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What is Psychosis?


Psychosis can be treated

Photo Credit: Thierry Ehrmann, 2011 – Survive

Zoe Markopoulos – Psychologist (MAPS, CEDP)

Psychosis occurs when you experience an altered sense of reality. It may cause you to misinterpret or confuse what is going on in the world around you. Approximately three-in-one hundred people will experience psychosis in their lifetime. A first episode of psychosis is most likely to occur in late adolescence or early adult years. Despite this, psychosis can be treated and most people make a full recovery.

What are the Symptoms of Psychosis?

The symptoms of psychosis may include:

  • Confused thinking – sentences are unclear, and you may have difficulty following a conversation and concentrating.
  • Delusions – paranoia (feeling watched), grandiosity (believing you have special powers) or depressive (believing you are guilty of a crime).
  • Hallucinations – seeing, hearing, feeling or smelling something that does not exist.

The cause of psychosis is often a combination of biological, psychological, social and environmental factors. Also, suffers may have a family history of psychosis, stress, or schizophrenia or use drugs (e.g. LSD).

Are There Different Types of Psychosis?

There are a number of different types of psychosis:

  • Brief reactive psychosis – psychotic symptoms appear suddenly due to a very stressful event.
  • Drug-induced psychosis – consuming or withdrawing from drugs can cause short or long-term psychotic symptoms.
  • Schizophrenia – most people affected by schizophrenia experience a range of psychotic symptoms and usually have difficulty organising their thoughts.
  • Bipolar disorder – involves significant changes in mood (either very high or very low) that can lead to psychotic symptoms.
  • Depression – depression is so severe and intense that it causes psychotic symptoms.

How Can I Help Someone With Psychosis?

When helping a psychosis sufferer, it is important to display a calm and supportive demeanour so the psychosis sufferer isn’t frightened or confused by the experience. In addition, encouraging the person to seek professional help as early as possible, because no treatment it can severely disrupt a person’s life and development. Help is available from a General Practitioner or local mental health service (i.e. headspace).

Medication (e.g. antipsychotic drugs) and psychotherapy (e.g. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) are conventional treatment approaches. Practical activities, such as paying bills or going to the medical appointments, can also help a person to stay safe and feel secure.

Image - Z MarkopoulosIn her professional practice, Zoe Markopoulos applies her psychological and educational expertise in the effective delivery of psychology services to children and families. She recognises the importance of fostering resilience and addressing the social, emotional and educational needs of students. Zoe predominately aligns her work with the principles and techniques of cognitive behaviour therapy, positive psychology and mindfulness. A significant part of her work involves psychological counselling and assessment, developing and implementing evidence-based programs, and consultation. Zoe is also interested in self-care activities to help maintain physical, mental and emotional health.

Zoe has contributed to academic publications focused on coping, bullying, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, children and families. She is a member of the Australian Psychologist Society and is regularly involved with the College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists (Victoria), as a committee member. Zoe is currently completing the Psychology Board of Australia Registrar Program in Educational and Developmental Psychology.

Disclaimer: The information published in this column is based on each of the author’s own professional and personal knowledge and opinion. This information and opinion is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.

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