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The Distorted Reality of Psychosis

Psychosis is a state of mind that few talk about, let alone truly understand. It can feel like a never-ending nightmare playing repeatedly with no way out.

When a state of psychosis emerges, the unreal becomes real. Perhaps you are suddenly convinced you are being watched (even while inside your house) or you’ve begun to notice intricate details of nearly everything going on around you.

Psychosis is frightening, no doubt. However, educating yourself on what psychosis is and how it may feel can help you seek treatment sooner, and live a more grounded life.

What Actually Is Psychosis?

Before we jump into the understanding of what psychosis is, it is important to understand that psychosis is a symptom, not an illness.

Psychosis occurs when an individual loses touch with reality. This state of mind includes hallucinations, delusions, disordered speech, and thinking, and can impact all five of your senses.

Some people with psychosis describe it as “being here… but also far away”. While they may be physically present, their mind is in a completely different state. Psychosis can last between a few minutes to a few days. In cases where extreme mental illness is at play, the episodes tend to last longer and come on with more force.

What Are Common Symptoms of Psychosis?

Psychosis can take on different forms, and cause people to do entirely different things. Each person’s psychotic episode looks different depending on their environment and current mental health.

The most common symptoms of psychosis include:

Hallucinations

While many people hear the words ‘hallucination’ and ‘delusion’ and use the terms interchangeably, they mean quite different things.

Hallucinations occur when an individual hears, sees, feels, smells, or tastes something that is not actually there. While this object does not exist outside their mind, to the person hallucinating, it feels extremely real.

Auditory hallucinations may sound like voices coming from either inside or outside a person’s mind. These voices may be talking to one another, or they may be telling the individual to do something.

Visual hallucinations include seeing things others don not such, as bugs crawling on your hands, or people standing off in the distance, or they may appear as seeing objects in the wrong shape or form.

Delusions

On the other hand, delusions are different, yet still often occur during episodes of psychosis.

Delusions are distorted patterns of thinking in which an individual cannot tell what’s real from what’s imagined. When someone experiences delusions during a psychotic episode, they may feel incredibly passionate about what they truly believe is real.

However, these strong beliefs are not shared by others and indicate an abnormality in the way a person’s brain is operating.

The most common form of delusion includes the belief that others are out to get them, in order to cause harm in some way. This can cause immense fear and panic in someone experiencing psychosis.

Other Symptoms of Psychosis:

  • Rapid speech
  • Constant speech
  • Switching from one topic to another mid-sentence
  • Suspiciousness
  • Inappropriate behaviour
  • Social withdrawal
  • Abnormal movements
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Lack of emotional expression
  • Depression, anxiety, or stress
  • Paranoia
  • Impulsive behaviour

It is important to note; while some people do become violent during a psychotic episode, many times psychosis comes on like a cloud of confusion. Individuals will suddenly become disoriented and unsure of what is going on around them. If you feel as though a loved one is experiencing psychosis, no amount of rational talk will help. Contact a medical professional immediately.

The Distorted Reality of Psychosis

Early Warning Signs of Psychosis

While it often appears during late adolescence to early adulthood, psychosis can affect everyone, from all walks of life. Therefore, it is incredibly important to know the early warning signs and educate yourself on what to do if you feel a psychotic episode coming on.

Early warning signs of psychosis include:

  • New difficulties with thinking or staying focused
  • A sudden drop in academic performance
  • Odd thinking or behaviours
  • Suspiciousness or suddenly feeling uneasy around others
  • Social withdrawal
  • Overly intense new ideas
  • Strange feelings
  • No feelings at all
  • A decline in self-care or personal hygiene
  • Confused speech
  • Trouble communicating
The Reality of Living with Psychosis

Psychosis is often seen in patients with schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder, but can happen in cases of severe depression. In addition, psychosis may be triggered by trauma, stress, drug and alcohol use, medications, or physical illnesses.

The reality is, living with psychosis is not an “end-all be-all”. Individuals that have experienced more than one psychotic episode are still able to go on to live fulfilling lives, get married, hold a job, and have children.

While mental illnesses such as schizophrenia may require periods of time off work, with proper treatment and medication these disabilities are often short-term.

Many people who suffer from psychosis find themselves extremely frustrated, embarrassed, or ashamed about things they’ve said or done, while out of touch with reality. It is important to support your loved ones with psychosis as they have no control over how they may act while in a psychotic state.

These people are just like you and me with goals, passions, and aspirations for the future. Addressing common stereotypes and misconceptions is vital as untrue perceptions of mental health can greatly influence the way a person is treated.

It is incredibly powerful to challenge these ideas and instead spread education and empathy. This can give hope to those who may be afraid to seek treatment for their psychosis. Nevertheless, we are all human – whether you’ve been through a psychotic episode or not.

Orchestrate Health offers bespoke mental health services that people can access from the comfort of their own home or within their community, with rapid response times and even daily visits if needed. Orchestrate Health can provide help for those struggling with psychosis, and remove the inconvenience of travelling to and from appointments.

Resources:

https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/psychosis/overview/#:~:text=Psychosis%20is%20when%20people%20lose,not%20actually%20true%20(delusions)

https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-does-psychosis-feel-like#causes

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