What is Psychosis?

Written & Researched by Lucy Coran



Overview

Psychosis is an extremely serious mental disorder and many people think that this disorder is a break with reality. Psychosis is when a person has disruptions to their thoughts and have perceptions that make it difficult for them to know what's real and what is not. People with psychosis may hear or see things that others cannot, and may believe things that are not true.



Two Main Types

Hallucinations and delusions are the two main symptoms of psychosis. When a person hallucinates, a person will hear, see, feel, smell, or taste things that don't exist outside of their mind. To a person with psychosis though, it's very real to the person. One of the most common hallucinations is hearing voices, which is what is traditionally portrayed in movies as a hallucination. Delusions are when a person has beliefs, usually very strong, that are not shared by other people. One common delusion people experience is believing there's a conspiracy waiting to harm them. These two symptoms will cause severe stress and change a person's behaviors. People who experience these symptoms often have a psychotic episode.



How is this diagnosed?

Psychosis is diagnosed through a psychiatric evaluation. A doctor will watch and evaluate a person's behavior and ask questions about what they are experiencing. In the United States, around 100,000 teenagers and young adults experience a psychotic episode. 1 percent or lower of the population suffers from psychosis.



Treatment

Some types of treatments are medication such as antipsychotics. These medicines reduce hallucinations and delusions and help people have a clearer mind. Traditionally, many people stay on these medications for a short time, but, people with schizophrenia may stay on these medications for life. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is when a person talks to a therapist and attempts to change their thinking and behaviors. Together with medication and therapy, people with Psychosis can easily take care of themselves.



What happens if left untreated?

If untreated, people with psychosis can have a lot of difficulty caring for themselves, and this may lead to other illnesses.



Sources

Psychosis, https://www.healthline.com/health/psychosis#outlook

Overview - Psychosis, https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/psychosis/overview/

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