Most people think of psychosis as a break with reality— in a way it is. Psychosis is characterized as disruptions to a person’s thoughts and perceptions that make it difficult for them to recognize what is real and what isn’t. These disruptions are often experienced as seeing, hearing and believing things that aren’t real or having strange, persistent thoughts, behaviors and emotions. While everyone’s experience is different, most people say psychosis is frightening and confusing.
The word psychosis is used to describe conditions that affect the mind, where there has been some loss of contact with reality. When someone becomes ill in this way it is called a psychotic episode. During a period of psychosis, a person’s thoughts and perceptions are disturbed and the individual may have difficulty understanding what is real and what is not.
If you are diagnosed with one or more of these conditions then you may experience psychosis. Alternatively, if you experience psychosis (and you have other symptoms too), then you may be given one of these diagnoses:
We are still learning about how and why psychosis develops, but several factors are likely involved. We do know that teenagers and young adults are at increased risk of experiencing an episode of psychosis because of hormonal changes in their brain during puberty.
Several factors that can contribute to psychosis:
Typically, a person will show changes in his or her behavior before psychosis develops. Behavioral warning signs for psychosis include:
Studies have shown that it is common for a person to have psychotic symptoms for more than a year before receiving treatment. Reducing this duration of untreated psychosis is critical because early treatment often means a better recovery.
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