Psychosis is characterized by an impaired relationship with reality. And it is a symptom of serious mental disorders. People who are psychotic may have either hallucinations or delusions.
Hallucinations are sensory experiences that occur within the absence of an actual stimulus. For example, a person having an auditory hallucination may hear their mother yelling at them when their mother isn’t around. Or someone having a visual hallucination may see something, like a person in front of them, who isn’t actually there.
The person experiencing psychosis may also have thoughts that are contrary to actual evidence. These thoughts are known as delusions. Some people with psychosis may also experience loss of motivation and social withdrawal.
These experiences can be frightening. They may also cause people who are experiencing psychosis to hurt themselves or others. It is important to see a doctor right away if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of psychosis.
Symptoms of psychosis include:
- difficulty concentrating
- depressed mood
- sleeping too much or not enough
- withdrawal from family and friends
- disorganized speech, such as switching topics erratically
- suicidal thoughts or actions
What are delusions and hallucinations?
Delusions and hallucinations are two very different symptoms that are both often experienced by people with psychosis. Delusions and hallucinations seem real to the person who is experiencing them.Delusions
A delusion is a false belief or impression that is firmly held even though it is contradicted by reality and what is commonly considered true. There are delusions of paranoia, grandiose delusions, and somatic delusions.
People who are experiencing a delusion of paranoia might think that they are being followed when they are not, or that secret messages are being sent to them. Someone with a grandiose delusion will have an exaggerated sense of importance. Somatic delusion is when a person believes they have a terminal illness when in reality they are healthy.
A hallucination is a sensory perception in the absence of outside stimuli. That means seeing, hearing, feeling, or smelling something that isn’t present. A person who is hallucinating might see things that don’t exist or hear people talking when they are alone.
Causes of psychosis
Each case of psychosis is different, and the exact cause is not always clear. There are, however, certain illnesses that cause psychosis. There are also triggers like drug use, lack of sleep, and other environmental factors. In addition, certain situations can lead to specific types of psychosis to develop.Illnesses
Illnesses that can cause psychosis include:
- brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and some chromosomal disorders
- brain tumors or cysts
Also some types of dementia may cause psychosis, such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- HIV, syphilis, and other infections that attack the brain
- some types of epilepsy
It’s not currently possible to precisely identify who is likely to develop psychosis. However, research has shown that genetics may play a role. People are more likely to develop a psychotic disorder if they have a close family member, such as a parent or sibling who has a psychotic disorder. Children born with the genetic mutation known as 22q11.2 deletion syndrome are at risk for developing a psychotic disorder, especially schizophrenia.
Types of psychosis
Some kinds of psychosis are brought on by specific conditions or circumstances that include the following:Brief psychotic disorder
Brief psychotic disorder, sometimes called brief reactive psychosis, can occur during periods of extreme personal stress like the death of a family member. Someone experiencing brief reactive psychosis will generally recover in a few days to a few weeks, depending on the source of the stress.Drug- or alcohol-related psychosis
Psychosis can be triggered by the use of alcohol and illegal drugs, including stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine. Hallucinogenic drugs like LSD often cause users to see things that are not really there, but this effect is temporary. Some prescription drugs like steroids and stimulants can also cause symptoms of psychosis People who are addicted to alcohol and certain drugs can experience psychotic symptoms if they suddenly stop drinking or taking the drug to which they are addicted.Organic psychosis
A head injury or an illness or infection that affects the brain can cause symptoms of psychosis.