When a person experiences the symptoms of psychosis, the line between fact and fiction can become blurred. For a person with psychosis, it becomes difficult to know what is real and what is imaginary.
Several different mental health disorders are associated with symptoms of psychosis, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Treatment is available for these underlying health concerns, as well as for symptoms of psychosis, in particular.
Psychosis is typically preceded by a range of pre-psychosis signs and symptoms, which are sometimes very subtle.
Four main symptoms of actual psychosis include:
- Pre-Psychosis (Prodrome Phase)
The more dramatic signs and symptoms of psychosis are usually preceded by milder symptoms, which collectively make up the Prodrome Phase. These symptoms overlap with conditions other than psychosis, but regardless of what specific diagnosis they point to, they signal a need for supportive mental health care.
Some of these early warning symptoms of psychosis include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Poor concentration
- Social isolation or withdrawal
- Poor motivation
- A sudden decline in academic or work performance
- A sudden decline in hygiene
- Emotional numbness
- Difficulty coping with stress
- General confusion
- Difficulty multi-tasking or following conversations
- Sensitivity to lights and sounds
The next four symptoms of psychosis can happen in any order, and some may be more intense or obvious than others.
Hallucinations are altered perceptions related to the five senses. We commonly think of hallucinations as seeing something that is not there, but hallucinations can also be described as:
- Hearing something that no one else hears (such as a name being called)
- Feeling sensations on the skin despite no stimulus
- Smelling things that no one else can (such as an overpowering perfume)
- Tasting things that don’t match up with what is being eaten at the time or when there is nothing in the mouth
If you are concerned a loved one may be experiencing hallucinations, listen carefully for any stories that don’t make sense, such as if they report having seen or heard you while you were away.
A delusion is a strongly-held belief that is nonetheless completely false. A person who experiences delusions cannot be reasoned with to see that their belief is unfounded.
Many types of delusions exist, including delusions of magical powers or delusions of authority. Someone may have a delusion of paranoia, thinking that everyone is plotting against them, or a delusion that other people can read their mind and influence them.
Confusion may become apparent when someone speaks, such as jumbling words or having trouble putting thoughts into a logical order. A confused person might also switch subjects rapidly or completely forget what they meant to say next. Remembering new information and thinking creatively or abstractly may also be difficult.
- Poor Self-Awareness
Another sign of psychosis is poor self-awareness of the delusions, hallucinations and confusion one experiences. To someone with psychosis, nothing about these experiences seems unusual. It all integrates with reality.
Once your loved one is told that some of the things they have seen, heard or thought have no basis in reality, they may become distressed. Assure them that there is nothing to be frightened or ashamed of, and that it is important for you to know what they are experiencing in order to help them.
Medications and therapeutic approaches can help reduce the symptoms of psychosis. Contact us today for more information on psychosis treatment.