Psychosis is a very serious problem that is associated with a wide array of mental health conditions.

Psychosis typically causes an individual to lose touch with reality, and is normally characterised by the appearance of either hallucinations or delusions – and sometimes both.

While psychosis is a serious problem, effective treatment can lead to symptoms being contained. In this article, we take a look at the prognosis of Psychosis.

Many people find that medication is a key part of treatment

What is Psychosis?

Psychosis: Psychosis is a very serious mental health problem that causes an individual to see, perceive or interpret things in very different ways to others. The most well-known signs of psychosis are hallucinations and delusions. Those who suffer from psychosis are said to “lose touch” with reality. Psychosis is a very serious problem that can have severe repercussions on both the individual suffering, and those around them. In rare cases, psychosis can be a positive thing – with some suggesting they can hear the voices of dead loved ones. Unfortunately, the majority of people have serious ill health when suffering from symptoms of psychosis. Psychosis itself isn’t a mental health condition, though is a key part of mental health, and plays a role in several conditions where psychotic episodes are common.

The importance of early intervention

One of the most important aspects affecting the prognosis of psychosis is how early treatment is sought. Research has consistently shown that early intervention is associated with better treatment outcomes [1].

Therefore, it is crucial that anyone with psychosis does seek treatment as soon as possible. Specialised teams can support patients with their experiences.

When the fateful occasion arises when someone does have a first psychotic episode, it is very important to access treatment. By visiting a Doctor, the person will get a referral to an Early Intervention Team.

This team are specially trained to help those who have had a first psychotic episode. They can provide support and help tailor treatment.

Psychosis and other conditions

As psychosis is not a condition in its own right, an initial psychotic episode will often manifest as part of a condition like Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder. Some will have continuous episodes of psychosis, whereas others will just have one.

Psychosis can appear as a symptom for the first time at any point in an individual’s life. Typically, in many cases, an individual will have a first psychotic episode between the age of 18 and 24.

Substance-induced psychotic episodes can take place at any age, but typically won’t exacerbate when left untreated, contingent on successful detoxification from said substance.

Looking out for early warning signs

Fortunately, many early warning signs can appear prior to a maiden psychotic episode. Unfortunately, these warning signs are commonly misunderstood as being typical adolescent behaviour.

A gradual drop in academic performance, suspiciousness of others, poor self-care and personal hygiene, lack of emotions or poor concentration can all be the early warning signs.

Complications

A complication to the overall prognosis is that many people who have undergone a psychotic episode will rarely see that something has gone wrong.

It will commonly be up to a family member or close friend to instigate treatment – though this can be difficult. When a person has a strong delusion, they can be difficult to talk to, while those who experienced a hallucination may be reluctant to discuss their symptoms.

Left untreated, it is common for psychosis to lead to a mental health condition forming. There are many different Psychosis-related conditions, such as Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Delusional Disorder, Schizotypal Personality Disorder and Paranoid Personality Disorder among others.

Treatment can help. Medications like antipsychotics are commonly used to address the symptoms of psychosis, which can lead to symptoms being controlled more.

Talking therapy can also be used – which is helpful if a past trauma has contributed to the onset of psychosis. The causes however aren’t always clear. Genetics, trauma, or an underlying mental health conditions, can all contribute.

Unfortunately, some severe cases of psychosis can require hospitalisation, and in some cases, long-term stays in psychiatric wards.

While this is a frightening prospect, this measure is reserved for instances where an individual’s symptoms cause them to be a risk to either themselves, or others around them.

Summary

Overall, Psychosis is a problem that will commonly be a lifelong problem for many. Impairment is common, and some people with psychotic symptoms may have to spend periods of time in a psychiatric hospital.

But, early intervention can help maximise the chances of recovery. The aim is to control symptoms more, and keep an individual in control of their life. Therefore, accessing treatment is crucial in the overall prognosis of Psychosis-related conditions.

See Also

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References

[1] McGorry, P. D., Killackey, E., & Yung, A. (2008). Early intervention in psychosis: concepts, evidence and future directions. World Psychiatry. 7 (3): p148-156. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002%2Fj.2051-5545.2008.tb00182.x.