Understanding Psychosis

The phenomenon of psychosis affects a person’s thoughts, perceptions, emotions and consequently, behavior. Around 3% of the population will experience psychosis during the course of their lifetime, so the condition cannot be regarded as rare. However one in one hundred people who suffer from psychosis will only have one event. The remainder will go on to have many breaks with reality and be in need of medical intervention. It is likely that you know someone who has had a psychotic episode.

A person experiencing a psychotic episode will have disordered thought patterns and experience difficulty in distinguishing what is reality from what their brains are telling them about their own personal reality.

Who experiences psychotic symptoms?
Psychotic symptoms can occur in isolation but are more likely associated with conditions such as schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and drug use, particularly marijuana.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of psychosis are divided into two classifications: Positive and Negative. These terms are not used as per general language use but represent the presence or absence of certain behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs.

Positive symptoms consist of hallucinations such as hearing, seeing, smelling and tasting things that aren’t really there. Delusions also are common and consist of fixed and false beliefs such as “I am Jesus Christ”. Other common positive symptoms include dressing in an unusual manner, and disorganized thinking and speech.

Negative symptoms comprise behaviors such as the absence or diminishment of emotional expression, called “flattened effect.” Here the sufferer does not express the normal array of human emotions such as smiling, laughter, crying, anger, joy during an episode. There is a general “sameness” or “flattening” of emotions. The sufferer typically exhibits reduced speech and lack of verbal interaction, as well as an inability to be proactive and consistent in undertaking everyday activities.

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