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What You Should Know About Psychosis

What You Should Know About Psychosis, What Psychosis Looks Like, Episodes of Psychosis, Psychosis and Violence, Causes of Psychosis, Treatments for Psychosis

Psychosis is a commonly misunderstood phenomenon of mental health. It’s not a specific diagnosis, but rather a set of mental health symptoms. A person experiencing psychosis has less contact with reality than other people. They may have difficulty telling the difference between what is real and what is not. At Palms Behavioral Health in Harlingen, Texas, we treat several conditions that can present with psychosis, and we would like to correct the many misconceptions of what psychosis means and what it looks like. 

What Psychosis Looks Like

Mental health is different from one person to the next, so even if two people are both experiencing psychosis, it may manifest differently for each of them. Some of the most common ways a person can experience psychosis include:

  • Paranoia and unwarranted distrust of others
  • Illogical, unclear thoughts
  • Isolation from other people
  • Unusual, strange, or overly intense ideas, thoughts, and feelings or complete lack of feelings
  • Difficulty communicating due to confused thoughts

Psychosis may also result in changes to a person’s sleep patterns and personal hygiene, as well as decreased performance at school or work. Their overall functioning may be impacted.

Episodes of Psychosis

It is important to recognize that, like other symptoms related to mental health, psychosis may ebb and flow, with a patient experiencing greater or lesser degrees at different times. Psychosis can be both manageable and treatable, especially if the person has strong family and community support.

Psychosis and Violence

Although people experiencing psychosis are often portrayed as violent and dangerous to themselves and the people around them, only around 3-5 percent of people with serious mental illnesses are violent. Confusion and fear may trigger aggression and thoughts of ending their own life in patients with psychosis, but mental health treatment is often able to decrease the risk for violence and suicide attempts. People with severe mental illnesses are about 10 times more likely to become victims of violent crime than the general population, so they are far more likely to need protection from violence than they are to become perpetrators of violence.

Language Matters

The way we speak about psychosis can make a huge difference in how it is perceived and how likely it is that people experiencing psychosis will receive the help they need and deserve. 

  • Language can fuel harmful and inaccurate perceptions and make it less likely that people with psychosis will be treated with empathy and compassion by law enforcement, the medical community, and the general public.
  • Relying on overly clinical terms may make it more difficult for people with psychosis to trust the professionals they need to access for support. 
  • Patients and their loved ones may reject certain labels and find clinicians who use exclusively clinical terms less approachable. 
  • Some patients may reject their diagnoses, and providers who focus on a patient’s diagnosis rather than their struggles may reduce their ability to make progress on their recovery. 
  • Some verbiage is generally favored within the mental health community, such as using person-first language, but it may be most helpful to take cues from the person diagnosed with psychosis or their support system on what language they find most accurate and supportive.

Causes of Psychosis

As with many other things related to health, there is not just one factor that can result in psychosis. Some of the things that can increase a person’s risk include:

  • Genetics
  • Brain differences
  • Stressors or trauma, including lack of sleep
  • Certain physical health conditions
  • Mental health diagnoses like schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and some cases of severe depression
  • Certain age-specific issues, like Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s/dementia
  • A reaction to a medication, alcohol, or other drugs

The cause of the psychosis may impact its duration, severity, and responsiveness to treatment. How quickly a person’s mental health concerns are recognized and treated can also impact their ability to recover.

Treatments for Psychosis

Numerous strategies may be used to help people with psychosis live full, meaningful lives, such as:

  • Antipsychotic medications – these may be used for short-term or long-term care
  • Individual or group therapy
  • Family education and support
  • Supported employment or education services
  • Case management
  • Housing supports

Treatment isn’t just focused on making psychosis go away, but also on helping the patient to have a good quality of life despite the potential ongoing presence of psychosis. At Palms Behavioral Health, we serve patients from adolescence through advanced age, many of whom have experienced psychosis. Whenever possible, we include their family or others in their support system in their recovery process to ensure the best possible outcomes. 

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About programs offered at Palms Behavioral Health

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