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Facts About Psychosis

Psychosis is defined as a fundamental derangement of the mind (much like schizophrenia) characterized by loss of contact with reality, with evidence of this being delusions (false beliefs), disorganized speech/behavior, and auditory and/or visual hallucinations.

The word "psychosis" was first used by Ernst Von Feuchtersleben in 1845 as an alternative to insanity. The word was used to distinguish disorders of the mind, as opposed to “neurosis” which at the time was thought to stem from a problem with the nervous system.

The differences between major psychoses was made by Emil Kraepelin, who tried to create a synthesis of various disorders of the mind identified by 19th century psychiatrists, who grouped diseases together based on the classification of symptoms.
During the 1970's recovery was first coming to light in the mainstream of the mental health field. This movement was primarily driven by people who have experienced psychosis. This has led to a greater awareness that mental illness is not always a lifelong disability. It is essential to have effective support.

Interesting Facts Relating to Psychosis:
  • It is a medical condition that effects the brain
  • The first instance of psychosis will usually occur in teens or early adult life
  • Psychosis affects males and females equally
  • Approximately 3 percent of people will experience an episode of psychosis in their lifetimes
  • Psychosis affects all cultures and statuses
  • Drug use affects young people and puts them at risk
  • It is treatable and can be overcome

Characteristics of Psychosis

Psychosis can be characterized by the following:
  • Defective judgment
  • Loss of contact with reality
  • Apathy
  • Lack of emotional expression

Psychosis is divided into two major types: organic and functional.

  • Arises from preexisting medical conditions, such as Alzheimer disease, and medications such as levodopa and narcotics can cause this psychosis

  • This is brought on by existing mental health conditions, including schizophrenia and affective disorders (mood disorders)

Causes of Psychosis

There are numerous causes of psychosis. Below is a list of the most common causes of psychosis.

Common Causes of Psychosis Inculde:
  • Brain disease such as Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, and certain chromosomal disorders
  • Brain cysts or tumors
  • Dementia and Alzheimer's disease
  • HIV and other infection that have effects on the brain
  • Epilepsy
  • Stroke
  • Personality disorders
  • Manic depression
  • Schizophrenia

The following drugs have been found to trigger psychotic episodes:

Symptoms of Psychosis:

Common Symptoms of Psychosis Include:
  • False beliefs, especially unfounded suspicion or fear
  • Disorganized speech and thoughts
  • Hearing voices and seeing things that are not there
  • Disordered thinking (thoughts that jump between unrelated topics)

Tests and Signs of Psychosis:

Common Tests and Signs of Psychosis Include:
  • Psychiatric evaluations and testing
  • Blood tests for abnormal electrolyte and hormone levels, tests for syphilis and other infections.
  • Drug screens
  • MRI brain scans

Prognosis, Treatment and Complications of Psychosis

How well a person recovers is dependent on the cause or causes of the psychosis. If the cause can be corrected, the prognosis is often good. Treatment usually consists of antipsychotic medication, and chronic conditions such as schizophrenia could require long-term treatment with antipsychotics. Often care in a hospital is required for the safety of the patient. If the condition is left untreated it could lead to complications, such as the patient harming himself or others.

Prevention is entirely dependent on the cause. An example would be avoiding alcohol abuse, if you have experienced alcohol induced psychosis.

Call your health care provider immediately or a mental health professional if you or a member of your family is experiencing a psychotic episode. If necessary, take the afflicted to the nearest emergency room. Psychosis can place the afflicted person and surrounding people in danger, so be cautious when approaching someone who is demonstrating symptoms of psychosis.




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