What is psychosis?

social anxiety

She was a young woman, energetic in her pursuit of life until that fateful day. She was walking out of college when she suddenly heard a few middle-aged men talking about her. “Look at her,” they said, “walking down the stairs”. She began running, and the voices kept up with her, “she cannot run very fast ! why is she even running”.She couldn’t identify the people who were speaking but assumed that they were not going to be friendly. Despite what she did, or said, these voices did not stop. It was an incessant commentary on every little move she was making. She wondered how these people were watching her, cameras? mind-reading? She did not know!. Could she trust her friends and family? She did not know. She spent days on end inside the house, afraid of the worst. Hygiene did not seem very important, the school even less so. She dealt with her friends with caution, what if they were also involved? Was the whole world plotting against her, the voices told her so!

What would you do, if you suddenly started hearing voices, which reflected your every action and constantly read your mind out aloud?

Psychosis is a mental condition that affects the way our brain functions. It causes you to lose touch with reality. During a period of psychosis, a person’s thoughts and perceptions are disturbed and the individual may have difficulty understanding what is real and what is not. Psychosis is often a symptom of an underlying mental or physical illness. Psychosis is treatable and in a large number of cases entirely curable.

The causes of psychosis may include

1)Psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia.

2)In the elderly, dementia is a common cause.

3)Some auto immune diseases, infections and even thyroid disease can lead to psychosis.

4/)Drug abuse and withdrawal can also cause psychosis.

The commonest symptoms of psychosis include

Delusions are strong beliefs that are untrue and may seem irrational to others, these beliefs are often out of line from one’s cultural beliefs. Common delusional beliefs include

  • Persistently believing others or external forces are controlling thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
  • Believing that others are talking about them or following them around.
  • Believing that others are out to harm them.
  • Believing that one has special powers or special identity.

Hallucinations are abnormal perceptions which involve hearing or feeling things that aren’t in objective reality.

  • Hearing voices that others cannot.
  • Strange bodily sensations that cannot be explained.
  • Seeing things that others cannot.

The earlier psychosis is identified and treated, better the outcome of treatment.

The management of psychosis involves the identification of the underlying cause. Once a diagnosis is made, the mainstay of treatment is via medications. There are several myths about psychotropic medication, most of which are untrue. Modern psychotropics are safe in the hands of an expert psychiatrist. In addition to medication, psychotherapy may be of great help in a subset of those suffering from psychosis.