Psychosis

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What is psychosis?

Psychosis is a condition that affects someone’s ability to determine what is real or not. Symptoms can be very real and distressing to an individual suffering from psychosis. Approximately three per cent of people will have an episode of psychosis at some stage in their life, although a first episode usually occurs in adolescence or early adult life. People from all walks of life can suffer from psychosis and there can be a variety of causes.

What are the symptoms of psychosis?

There are many different symptoms of psychosis. Examples include:

  • Having unrealistic thoughts that are distressing and won’t go away. Even when others say it isn’t true (i.e. constantly thinking that people are spying on you).
  • Seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling or even smelling things that are not there.
  • Having very disorganized thinking, speech and behaviour.
  • Having great difficulty with motivation, lack of enjoyment, limited social interaction and decline in functioning.
  • Other changes in thought processes, mood, sleep, and behaviour.

How is it treated?

Psychosis is treated based on the specific cause. If there are certain physical conditions, medications or illicit drugs that are causing the symptoms then treatment targeted to the underlying cause is necessary.

Anti-psychotic medications are a mainstay of treatment and can help reduce or eliminate the symptoms of psychosis if symptoms are due to a mental illness such as schizophrenia.

Other treatments that can be helpful depending on specific symptoms and diagnosis include: connection and support from a mental health team, support groups, cognitive behavioural therapy, vocational therapy and counselling.

Self-care (e.g. eating a balanced diet, sleeping well at night, regular exercise, socialization and abstinence from alcohol and drugs) is also an important step in staying healthy. Support from family and friends can also be an important part of treatment.

How can I get help?

If you or a friend or family member have noticed some unusual changes in thinking and behaviour or is experiencing social isolation and/or feelings of suspiciousness, depression or anxiety, contact your community Early Psychosis Intervention (EPI) program:

  • Abbotsford, Agassiz, Chilliwack, Hope and Mission
    Call 1-866-870-7847
  • Burnaby, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, Tri-Cities
    Call 604-777-8386
  • Delta, Langley, Surrey, White Rock
    Call 604-538-4278

Early diagnosis and treatment in psychosis is very important, so seeking help as soon as symptoms arise is important.

Resources

For more information and other resources that may be of help please see below:

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