Psychosis is the term used to describe a state in which the sufferer has lost their sense of reality. These periods of illness are called psychotic episodes and must be handled by an experienced mental health professional. The patient may suffer from delusions and hallucinations of extreme distress to themselves and others. Speech may be incoherent, and there may be marked inappropriate behavior, such as screaming in public places and clothing removal.
Early symptoms include a shift in school and work performance, sudden trouble concentrating, new, odd or zero feelings. If the patient has a significant drop in hygiene or can no longer distinguish between fantasy and reality, a psychotic episode may be imminent.
Milder symptoms that can impair everyday function can include depression, anxiety, trouble falling or staying asleep, isolation and hopelessness. From the onset of psychotic symptoms to the start of treatment is called the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP).
Diagnosis and Treatment
Treatment should be administered as soon as symptoms appear. While that is not always possible, the earlier the treatment, the greater the chance the sufferer will have a full life after recovery. There is no guarantee that psychotic symptoms will never return. It is not currently possible to specify the root of psychosis. It may be a symptom of other mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. In some cases, severe sleep deprivation, medication, medical conditions or substance abuse may cause psychosis. The diagnosis can only be made through psychologists, psychiatrists, or trained social workers.
Antipsychotic medications are used to treat psychotic episodes.