Psychosis Symptoms, Causes and Effects
Psychosis is a clinical term that describes a family of serious mental illnesses. Many people who are afflicted with psychotic issues find themselves marginalized or depressed as a result of the sometimes very disturbing symptoms of psychosis.
What Are the Types of Psychotic Disorders?
If you’re wondering, “What are the types of psychotic disorder?” it’s easy to find conflicting definitions. The Center for Addiction and Mental Health lists several unique disorders under the heading of psychosis. Among those listed are:
- Schizophrenia. Literally meaning “split brain,” schizophrenia is a type of psychosis that’s characterized by persistent — longer than six months — psychotic symptoms that are generally accompanied by a decline in the sufferer’s ability to function in society.
- Bipolar illness. Bipolar disorder is characterized by disturbed moods and extremes of manic behavior followed by crushing lows, or depression, that may be accompanied by auditory hallucinations.
- Organic or drug-induced psychosis. This includes psychotic symptoms caused by illness, injury or withdrawal from certain addictive substances such as alcohol or amphetamines.
- Delusional disorder. This occurs when an otherwise entirely healthy individual harbors an irrational belief that is possible but extremely unlikely, such as the belief that the person is being poisoned by loved ones.
As a subcategory of psychotic illness, delusional disorder presents a unique challenge, if only for how dramatically the sufferer is able to compartmentalize the delusional beliefs. According to Psychology Today, these delusions may seem believable at face value –t hat is, they don’t involve impossible or supernatural events — but can be highly irrational, such as the unsupported belief that a celebrity whom the patient has never met is secretly in love with the patient. People with delusional disorder may be outwardly normal until the delusional belief is touched upon.
According to the National Institutes of Health, postpartum psychosis, which describes a cluster of symptoms that are triggered by childbirth, may set in within the first month after delivery. While the specific form the illness takes will vary among women who develop it, it is very important to identify the signs of postpartum psychosis early to ensure prompt treatment and the safety of both the mother and the new baby.
Schizoaffective disorder is a special subset of schizophrenia in which many different symptoms may be displayed. The Mayo Clinic points out that diagnosis of this condition may be difficult because of the very different courses it may take among different patients.
What Causes a Psychotic Disorder?
For every potential cause of these disorders, it’s easy to find a passionate defender of a theory supporting it. Twin studies suggest that at least a susceptibility to psychosis may be hereditary, while the experiences with organic, postpartum and drug-induced psychosis point to a potentially identifiable cause or trigger that will set the disorder in motion. Research into what causes a psychotic disorder is ongoing.
What Are the Signs of Psychotic Disorder?
The signs of a psychotic disorder vary. Delusions, paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and a general decline in the sufferer’s ability to make decisions or otherwise get by in the world may all be signs that a person is going through a psychotic illnesses.
Emotional Symptoms of Neurological Problems
The emotional symptoms of neurological problems such as organic psychosis are usually regarded as a combination of disturbed emotions caused by the illness itself, such as uncontrollable anger or paranoia, and the secondary symptoms associated with having a mental disorder, such as depression and thoughts of suicide.
Physical Symptoms of Neurological Problems
The physical symptoms of neurological problems may be difficult to spot. This is because many of them are a result of the illness’s secondary or associated behaviors. Scars caused by picking at or cutting the skin are a sign of self-inflicted harm, while the shakes and nausea of delirium tremens are primary symptoms of drug-induced psychosis.
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Neurological Instability
The short-term and long-term effects of neurological instability can be difficult to predict, because so many of them are defined in terms of ability to function in society, and one patient may have a radically different set of circumstances from another. The short-term effects usually involve an outward display of psychotic symptoms, such as hearing voices that are not real, while the long-term effects may include the loss of a job, financial instability, and persistent staph infections contracted during hospitalization.
Is There a Test or Self-Assessment I Can Do?
Unfortunately, given the generally delusional nature of psychotic disorders, self-assessment is generally not possible or advisable. Psychosis can only be reliably diagnosed by a trained mental health professional. If you feel you might be suffering from some kind of psychotic disorder, please call 1-888-997-3147(Who Answers?) to be put in touch with an expert who can see you for an assessment.
Psychosis Medication: Antipsychotic Drug Options
Since the 1950s, psychiatry has seen a huge increase in the number of antipsychotic drug options for use against psychosis. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, some of the most popular are:
- Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
- Haloperidol (Haldol)
Antipsychotic Drugs: Possible Options
Each of these drugs has its shortcomings, of course. Work continues on potential new treatments, but it is happening somewhat more slowly with antipsychotic drugs than other categories of drugs owing to the special difficulties of testing them.
Medication Side Effects
As with any other drug that’s available by prescription, antipsychotic medication side effects exist, and it’s important to take these drugs only at the direction of a doctor. According to the NIMH, some of the more common side effects of antipsychotic drugs include:
- Dizziness when changing positions
- Blurred vision
- Elevated heartbeat
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Skin rashes
- Menstrual irregularity
Antipsychotic Drug Addiction, Dependence and Withdrawal
Since the drugs that are used in the treatment of psychosis typically don’t produce a high, they are generally not considered addictive. Antipsychotic drug addiction is therefore quite rare.
Questions of psychological dependence aside, it is possible to become physiologically dependent on some antipsychotic drugs. Dependence and withdrawal are always potentially hazardous and should only be undertaken under the supervision of a licensed medical practitioner. For help in finding resources in your area, please call 1-888-997-3147(Who Answers?).
Any kind of medication overdose is serious. If you believe that you or another person may have overdosed on drugs of any kind, please seek medical attention immediately, as this could easily become a life-threatening emergency.
Depression and Psychological Problems
Depression and psychological problems go hand in hand. Often, the depression is an entirely natural response to chronic mental health issues, while at other times, the depression may stand alone as a disorder in its own right. Depression in any form has the potential to greatly reduce a person’s quality of life and may even lead to attempts at suicide. If you are depressed or you know somebody who might be, please call 1-888-997-3147(Who Answers?) as soon as you can to get the help you need.
Dual Diagnosis: Addiction and Psychotic Disorders
Addiction and psychotic disorders are often found together. In these dual diagnosis cases, it is not uncommon to find that the patient originally began using the addictive drug as a way of self-medicating to control the symptoms of the psychotic disorder. Individuals with this kind of dual diagnosis will have to be treated for each of their conditions simultaneously, as one of them may encourage and worsen the other.
Getting Help for Psychosis
If you or someone close to you has begun showing the signs of a psychotic disorder, please call 1-888-997-3147(Who Answers?) for help getting treatment on psychosis. There’s no advantage to waiting to ask for help, and someone is available to answer your questions 24 hours a day.