Psychosis

The word psychosis is used to describe conditions that affect the mind, where there has been some loss of contact with reality. When someone hallucinates or believes they hear or see something that isn't there it is called a psychotic episode.

Psychosis is most likely to occur in young adults and is quite common. Around 3 out of every 100 young people will experience a psychotic episode - making psychosis more common than diabetes in this age group. Psychosis can happen to anyone and like any other illness it can be treated. Most people make a full recovery from the experience.

What are the signs?

Psychosis can lead to changes in mood and thinking and can lead to abnormal ideas, making it hard to understand how a person experiencing a psychosis is feeling. Common characteristic symptoms of Psychosis include:

  • confused thinking
  • false beliefs
  • hallucinations (auditory, visual and/or sensory)
  • changed feelings
  • changes in behaviour

What are the causes?

The exact cause of psychosis is not known but as it occurs in a variety of mental and physical disorders it's likely to have several different causes. It is believed that some people have a vulnerability to developing a psychosis due to various biological and genetic risk factors and that stress, in combination with this vulnerability, can bring on an episode of psychosis.

The impact of stress on an individual with psychosis has been well documented and it has been noted that stress is a significant factor at first onset and also at subsequent relapse.

Many people who take large amounts of drugs (e.g. cannabis, amphetamines, cocaine, LSD) may experience psychosis.

How is psychosis treated?

It is very important to be assessed by a health professional if experiencing symptoms of psychosis.  Treatment can vary depending on the severity of the psychotic episode. Medication can be used to control symptoms. If the psychosis is drug induced, drug withdrawal will also be necessary. Education and treatment from a trained clinician and support from friends and family can assist someone to recover from a psychosis.

Most people make a full recovery from the experience. Psychosis can happen to anyone. Like any other illness it can be treated.

References:

ORYGEN Youth Health

SANE Australia 

Reach Out!'s fact sheets about Psychotic Disorders

Reach Out! provides information about what is psychosis, common myths and some treatment options.

http://au.reachout.com/tough-times/mental-health-issues/psychotic-disorders

Psychosis fact sheet by Orygen Youth Health Clinical Program

Orygen Youth Health Clinical Program (OYHCP) is a world-leading youth mental health program based in Melbourne, Australia. OYHCP's fact sheet on psychosis includes information on symptoms, types, causes, what can be done and referral.

http://oyh.org.au/sites/oyh.org.au/files/factsheets/oyh_fs_psyc.pdf

Information about psychosis and young people by Headspace

Headspace is a youth friendly, community based health service for young people 12 - 25 and their families. Their fact sheet regarding psychosis includes symptoms, types, causes and treatment.

http://www.headspace.org.au/is-it-just-me/find-information/psychosis

Fact sheet about psychosis by SANE Australia

SANE conducts innovative programs and campaigns to improve the lives of people living with mental illness, their family and friends. SANE's fact sheet about psychosis includes symptoms, causes, prevalence rates and treatment.

http://www.sane.org/information/factsheets-podcasts/185-psychosis

For people with a mental health problem, there may be periods of time when things are not manageable. Stress, traumatic events or changes in medication can trigger further symptoms of their illness. 

If you are concerned that your friend is not behaving as they normally would, then it is important to encourage them to talk to someone they trust like their doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist. If you think that your friend is likely to hurt themselves or someone else get help immediately even if your friend doesn't want you to.

When someone becomes extremely unwell, it can be distressing and confusing for others, as well as the person concerned. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Communicate clearly in an honest, understanding manner. Do not crowd, rush or unnecessarily touch the person.
  • Provide a calm, safe environment. Move to quieter, more open surroundings. If necessary, remove items with which the person might use to harm themselves or others.
  • Seek help from a doctor, Psychiatric Emergency Team or the police.
  • Try to behave in a quietly confident manner. Be firm but friendly and unthreatening. Reassure that help is on its way.

Fact sheet about helping someone with a mental illness by SANE Australia

SANE conducts innovative programs and campaigns to improve the lives of people living with mental illness, their family and friends.  SANE has a fact sheet about assisting someone with a mental illness.

Reference: Reach Out! website

Headspace

A community based service for people aged 12 - 25 and their families, Headspace provides help for issues including health, education, work, mental health and drug & alcohol use.

http://www.headspace.org.au

Orygen Youth Health Clinical Program (OYHCP)

Orygen Youth Health Clinical Program (OYHCP) is a world-leading youth mental health program based in Melbourne, Australia. OYHCP sees young people aged 15 to 25, with a focus on early intervention and youth specific approaches.

http://oyh.org.au/

Reach Out!

An initiative of the Inspire Foundation, Reach Out! is a web based service that provides information, support and interactive features to help young people get through tough times.

http://au.reachout.com/

SANE Australia

SANE conducts innovative programs and campaigns to improve the lives of people living with mental illness, their family and friends. It also operates a busy telephone helpline and website.

http://www.sane.org

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