5 Tips for Maneuvering Through Psychosis
Maneuvering through Psychosis can be difficult. It is a state of mind where one perceives or interprets reality differently (often very differently) from those around them. Also referred to as a psychotic episode or psychotic event, someone experiencing psychosis may be described as being out of touch with reality. There are several types of psychosis, with the most common being hallucinations, disorganized thoughts and speech, and delusions.
When someone hallucinates, they see or hear things that aren’t there or that are different from reality. They may see something or someone that doesn’t exist, such as a face or animal. They may experience tastes, smells, or sensations such as bugs crawling on their skin or something burning, although those things do not exist. Also, they may hear voices that other people cannot hear. Depending on the hallucination, the voices they hear may be hostile and aggressive or helpful and positive.
Disorganized thoughts and speech
Disorganized thoughts and speech often come in the form of racing thoughts or a flight of ideas. When someone visits a mental health professional for psychosis, these are the two terms they may hear. Racing thoughts occur when thoughts or ideas process through your head very quickly. Often, they happen so fast that they are out of control, and the individual does not have time to acknowledge or understand them fully.
Flight of ideas occurs when one moves very quickly from idea to idea. They make connections or links or see meaning between the thoughts that others cannot. Many people experience racing thoughts and a flight of ideas simultaneously. When someone has disorganized thoughts, it can lead to problems with speech. For example, they may stumble over their own words or speak very quickly, making it difficult for others to understand or comprehend what they’re saying.
They may also connect words because of how they sound rather than their meaning. This makes speech jumbled and confusing for others. This particular speech pattern is sometimes referred to as a “word salad.” Other examples of disorganized speech include changing conversation topics very quickly and finding it challenging to stay focused on one subject for any length of time.
One type of decision many people are familiar with is the “delusions of grandeur.” This type of delusion occurs when someone in the midst of a psychotic episode believes they are a very important person. But these are not the only type of delusion. Delusions are a belief or a series of beliefs that someone with psychosis has that nobody else shares and that cannot be true. However, for the individual experiencing them, the delusions feel completely and unquestionably genuine.
Depending on the delusion, some can be very frightening and lead to feelings of danger and fear. For example, someone may believe others are trying to control, harm, threaten, or even kill them, although these feelings have no basis for truth. This type of delusion is sometimes referred to as a paranoid delusion.
What are the Symptoms of Psychosis?
Psychosis is not necessarily a diagnosis but a symptom of a significant mental health problem. It is not uncommon for someone diagnosed with mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, paranoid personality disorder, severe depression, or schizoaffective disorder to experience psychotic episodes.
However, some people can experience psychosis without another mental health diagnosis. Suppose someone experiences psychotic symptoms for less than a month, and their mental health professional does not believe another condition better describes their symptoms. In that case, they may be described as having a brief psychotic disorder.
Psychosis does not typically occur suddenly. In general, someone will display behavioral changes before psychosis develops. Therefore, it is crucial to watch for behavioral warning signs of psychosis that may indicate a friend or loved one who could benefit from treatment at a professional program like The Meadowglade. Examples of potential warning signs of psychosis may include:
- Changes to personal hygiene and self-care
- Sudden decline in academic or job performance
- New challenges concentrating or thinking clearly
- Seeing others with suspicion or being uneasy and paranoid around other people
- Social withdrawal
- Difficulty separating fantasy from reality
- Problems with speech and communication
Someone who is experiencing this psychotic episode may display other signs and symptoms as well. For example, they may have trouble sleeping, lack motivation, experience anxiety, depression, and overall difficulty functioning in their day-to-day lives. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the warning signs of psychosis or a psychotic episode, it is crucial to seek help from a mental health professional right away.
Related: Seeing Psychosis: Signs and Symptoms
What is the Cause of Psychosis?
Currently, researchers have yet to uncover a single cause of psychosis. It is believed that psychosis or psychotic episodes are likely a symptom of a mental illness such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. However, as noted above, it is not necessary to be diagnosed with a mental health condition to experience psychosis. There are other potential factors that could lead to the development of psychosis. For example, medical conditions, certain prescription medications, extreme sleep deprivation, and misuse of alcohol and drugs. For a mental health provider to diagnose a specific mental health condition as the cause of psychosis, it is essential to rule out any other possible contributing factor.
Tips for Maneuvering Through Psychosis
Although there may not be a way to entirely eliminate the onset of psychosis, there are several things you can do to manage episodes of psychosis.
Focus on your physical health
Taking the time to focus on one’s physical health can also significantly impact their emotional health. Paying attention to specific elements of your day, such as your diet, and getting adequate sleep can give you the energy to manage challenges that could trigger psychosis. It is also helpful to incorporate physical activity into your day.
Spending time outside or engaging in other moderate physical activity can improve your mental well-being and overall physical and mental health. Finally, avoid using drugs and alcohol. Although substances can help manage difficult emotions in the short term, the long-term outcome of self-medication can harm your health in irreversible ways.
Seek out peer support
Peer support groups help to bring together individuals who share similar experiences. The goal appears support groups is to use each person’s individual knowledge, achievements, and even setbacks, to support each other. There are several peer support groups tailored to help individuals experiencing psychotic symptoms. Many groups can be found online or in your local area. Your mental health provider at The Meadowglade can also provide advice and suggestions on specific peer support groups.
Understand your triggers
Understanding your triggers can help you to take the steps necessary to avoid or manage them when they occur. For some, keeping a journal of people, places, or events that have triggered a psychotic episode is beneficial. It may help to take note of mood, diet, sleeping habits, or life events that led to an episode of psychosis in the past.
By writing these things down, you can think about what has worsened or triggered psychosis, the warning signs of a potential psychotic event, and what tools or skills you used to help manage your emotions in the past. A journal of contributing factors and effective coping mechanisms can also help family and friends know the warning signs of a potential oncoming episode. This can ensure you have access to mental health help and support as early as possible.
Learn new relaxation techniques
For many, high stress levels are a key contributing factor to psychotic episodes. Learning and practicing healthy and effective relaxation or stress management techniques is crucial. In the absence of beneficial coping tools, it is not uncommon for someone experiencing psychosis to turn to drugs and alcohol. As noted above, while this may be beneficial in the short term, the long-term outcomes can be dangerous.
There are several relaxation and stress management tools you can use in the privacy of your own home to help you improve your coping abilities. A few examples include yoga, meditation, physical activity, reading a book, listening to music, or trying out a new hobby such as painting or pottery. The type of stress management tool is not necessarily as important as finding something new to enjoy that can help you achieve relaxation and reduce stress in a safe and healthy way.
Develop a crisis plan
If a crisis occurs, you may not be able to communicate effectively with friends or loved ones to help them understand what you need to begin your recovery. Therefore, when you are feeling well, and your mind is in a stable place, it helps to talk to someone you trust about how they can help when you are in crisis. It may help to put your crisis plan on paper and keep it in a place where friends or loved ones can find it in the event of an emergency. Your crisis plan should include important phone numbers and contact information for medical and mental health providers.
Getting Treatment for Psychosis at The Meadowglade
Treatment for psychosis generally involves a combination of individual or group therapy, medication management, and ongoing aftercare. Before effective treatment can begin, however, it is crucial to determine the root causes of psychosis. Once your mental health provider understands the mental or medical health factors that may contribute to psychosis, it is possible to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses your physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
At The Meadowglade, our team of treatment professionals will work with you and your family to develop a comprehensive treatment plan based on proven, evidence-based therapy models. We understand that your specific treatment needs and goals are the most crucial factors of your treatment program. Let us help you take the first steps toward recovery and a better understanding of long-term psychosis management. Contact a member of our admissions team today to learn more about our programs.