What do you think of when you hear the words psychotic, bipolar, and schizophrenic? Do you imagine a violent, dangerous person or someone with multiple personalities? If so, you may want to understand a little more about these diseases and what being psychotic actually means.
What is psychosis?
The term psychosis is often described as a condition where people lose touch with reality. A person in a state of psychosis may believe imaginary things are actually real and sense things that are not actually there. Psychosis may seem alarming to observers. Patients in a psychotic state may appear withdrawn or act strangely. They may say things that don’t make sense, for example: “Oh, it was superb, you know the trains broke, and the pond fell in the front doorway.”
Despite their absurdity, psychoses are more common than you may think. About three out of 100 Americans will experience a psychotic episode at some point in their lives.
What Psychosis is Not
Psychosis is a scary word, but it’s important not to assume that a person suffering a psychotic episode is a danger to society. In fact, the person is more likely to hurt themselves than hurt others.
It’s also important to note that, though they may sound similar, psychosis is not the same thing as psychopathy, which in the medical community, is more often referred to as antisocial personality disorder.
Disorders with Possible Psychosis
Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that may cause people to experience:
- Delusions and sensory hallucinations
- Reduced emotional and facial expressions, also called flat affect, where the person does not seem quite present
- Reduced interest and enjoyment in everyday life and activities
- Isolation and/or speech
- Trouble with memory, focus, concentration, and making decisions
Schizophrenia is sometimes confused for the condition where a person has multiple or split personalities. However, that condition is called dissociative identity disorder (DID), not schizophrenia.
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by extreme mood swings. As a result, people with bipolar disorder go through manic episodes and depressive episodes:
- During manic episodes, they may feel “high,” be extremely active, think and talk quickly, or do reckless things like going on spending sprees.
- During depressive episodes, they may feel worried, sad, or tired. They may even think about hurting or killing themselves.
Sometimes, people with bipolar disorder may find themselves affected by psychosis. For example, if psychosis happens during a manic episode, they may have ideas of grandiosity, thinking they’re invincible. If psychosis happens during a depressive episode, they might believe they’re guilty of a serious crime.
Substance Abuse and Psychosis
Certain mind-altering substances have been associated with psychosis. For example, psychosis is associated with chronic methamphetamine use, and about 40% of meth users experience psychosis. Delusions and hallucinations can even last for months or years after a person quits meth. These episodes may also spontaneously recur, triggered by stress.
There is some evidence to suggest that marijuana can trigger psychosis in those who have a genetic predisposition, especially if they start using at a young age. However, further research is required to find definitive answers to questions surrounding recreational drug use and psychosis.
Helping Someone with Psychosis
- Worsening grades or work performance
- Problems thinking clearly and focusing
- Appearing unkempt as personal hygiene gets progressively ignored
Treating Psychosis with Medications
Antipsychotic medications can reduce psychotic symptoms. Within days of the first dose, hallucinations and agitation can disappear, and within a few weeks, delusions may also go.
It’s important that you don’t stop taking antipsychotic medications without the approval of a doctor. Patients usually have to be gradually tapered off their medication. Otherwise, they can relapse if they believe they are well enough to stop taking their medications.
Since antipsychotic medication like aripiprazole and lurasidone has to be taken regularly, you may feel anxious about affordability. Your fears can be mitigated by buying cheap ABILIFY® (aripiprazole) and cheap Latuda® (lurasidone) from international or Canadian pharmacy referral sites that connect U.S. patients to pharmacies abroad. Other countries may have stricter price regulations, resulting in significantly more affordable drugs.
Other Treatments and How You Can Help
If you or a loved one is experiencing early signs of psychosis, it’s important to find help as soon as possible. Early intervention is essential to effective treatment, and untreated psychosis can lead to more serious problems like unemployment, homelessness, and substance abuse.
Programs designed to treat psychosis include coordinated specialty care (CSC). CSC is specifically designed to help people recover from their first psychotic episode. It uses psychotherapy (talk therapy) and a tailored approach to encourage recovery.
Supported Employment/Education (SEE) is another program designed for young adults to get back into work or school. Psychosis can be extremely debilitating to a young person’s success and SEE experts can help connect these patients with educators and employers.
If you know someone with psychosis, try to learn as much as you can about the condition so you can provide non-judgmental support. This may be a scary time for them, but by educating yourself, you can make a difference.