Psychosis is a mental health condition that causes a disconnection from reality and can manifest as delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking and speech, and negative symptoms.
Initial psychosis, also known as first-episode psychosis, refers to the first time someone experiences these symptoms.
Early diagnosis and treatment is important for better outcomes. In this post, we will explore the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for early psychosis, as well as how to get help.
Symptoms of early psychosis
The first-episode psychosis, is characterized by a range of symptoms that can vary in severity and duration. These symptoms may include:
- Delusions: These are false beliefs that the person holds onto despite evidence to the contrary. Delusions can be paranoid (e.g. believing that someone is trying to harm them), grandiose (e.g. believing they have special powers or abilities), or bizarre (e.g. believing they are being controlled by an outside force).
- Hallucinations: These are sensory experiences that are not real, such as hearing voices or seeing things that are not there. Hallucinations can affect any of the senses, including hearing, sight, taste, smell, and touch.
- Disorganized thinking and speech: The person may have difficulty organizing their thoughts and expressing them in a logical and coherent manner. Their speech may be jumbled or unrelated to the topic at hand.
- Negative symptoms: These are characterized by a lack or reduction of normal functioning and may include social withdrawal, lack of motivation, and a lack of emotion.
Note that not everyone with early psychosis will experience all of these symptoms, and the severity of the symptoms can vary greatly from person to person.
Causes of early psychosis
There is no single cause of early psychosis, and it is likely that a combination of factors contribute to the development of the condition. These factors may include:
- Genetics: There is a strong genetic component to psychosis, and people with a family history of psychosis are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
- Environmental factors: Stressful life events, such as a traumatic experience or significant life changes, can trigger psychosis in some people. Substance abuse, particularly the use of drugs like marijuana and amphetamines, can also increase the risk of psychosis.
- Brain abnormalities: Research has shown that people with psychosis often have structural and functional abnormalities in certain brain regions, such as the prefrontal cortex and the temporal lobes. It is not clear whether these abnormalities are a cause or a result of the condition.
Psychosis is not caused by personal weakness or a lack of character, and it is not the person’s fault. This disease is a medical condition that requires professional treatment.
Treatment options for early psychosis
Treatment for early psychosis typically involves a combination of medication and therapy. The goal of treatment is to reduce the severity of symptoms and improve the person’s functioning and quality of life.
- Antipsychotic medication: Antipsychotic medications are the primary treatment for psychosis. These drugs work by balancing certain chemicals in the brain and can help to reduce delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking. It may take some time to find the right medication and dosage, and the person may need to try several medications before finding one that works for them.
- Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, can be helpful in managing the symptoms of psychosis. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and family-focused therapy are two types of therapy that have been shown to be effective in treating psychosis. CBT can help the person learn to identify and change negative thought patterns, while family-focused therapy can help to improve communication and relationships within the family.
- Supportive services: In addition to medication and therapy, supportive services can be helpful in managing the symptoms of early psychosis. These may include case management, employment assistance, and housing support.
This kind of treatment is most effective when it is tailored to the individual’s needs and preferences. It is also important for the person to be involved in the treatment planning process and to have a strong support system in place.
How to get help
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of early psychosis, it is important to seek help as soon as possible.
Early treatment can lead to better outcomes and can help to reduce the severity and duration of the symptoms. Here are some steps you can take to get help:
- Talk to a healthcare provider: Your primary care doctor or a mental health professional can assess your symptoms and determine if you need further evaluation and treatment.
- Contact a mental health helpline: Many countries have mental health helplines that you can call to speak with a trained mental health professional. They can provide support, information, and referrals to local resources.
- Seek support from friends and family: It is important to have a strong support system in place when managing psychosis. Talk to your loved ones about your symptoms and let them know how they can support you.
- Reach out to a support group: Joining a support group can be a helpful way to connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges and to find support and guidance.
It can be difficult to seek help for psychosis, but it is an important step in managing the condition and improving your quality of life. Remember, you are not alone, and there are people and resources available to help you.