Psychotic disorders are mental health problems that cause a person to lose some touch with reality. They can cause severe disturbances in behaviour, thinking and emotions. A psychotic disorder can severely disrupt a person’s life. (Tweet This). Relationships, work and self-care can be difficult to initiate and/or maintain.
There are four phases that vary in length from person to person, during a psychotic episode:
- Promorbid Phase: Time before symptoms start
- Prodrome Phase: The symptoms are vague and hardly noticeable (e.g. they may be mistaken for “typical” teenage behaviour).
- Acute Phase: Psychotic symptoms are experienced (e.g., hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking and behaviour)
- Recovery Phase: With treatment, most people recover from the psychotic episode. Some people have one episode and never experience another one.
Common Signs and Symptoms that a Psychotic Disorder is Developing
Changes in Emotion and Motivation:
- Mood Swings
- Increased Anxiety
- Suspiciousness, a constant feeling of being watched
- Blunted, flat or inappropriate emotion.
- Irrational, angry or fearful responses to friends and family.
- Change in appetite
- Reduced energy and motivation.
Changes in Thinking and Perception:
- Difficulties with concentration
- Sense of alteration of self, others or the outside world (e.g. feeling that self or others have changed or are acting differently in some way).
- Inability to turn off their imagination, odd ideas
- Unusual perceptual experiences (e.g., a reduced or greater intensity of smell, sound or colour).
- Inappropriate use of language – words don’t make sense to others.
- Difficulty controlling thoughts
Changes in Behaviour:
- Sleep disturbances
- Loss of appetite
- Withdrawal from activities and social contacts
- Deterioration in studies or work
- Deterioration in personal hygiene
- Physical symptoms (e.g., weakness, pains, bizarre body sensations)
- Sudden excesses (e.g., extreme religiosity, extreme activity)
Schizophrenia is a complex mental health problem. It is a biological illness that affects the brain and has specific symptoms due to the changes in the brain.
Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia
There are “positive” and “negative” symptoms of Schizophrenia. This does not mean good or bad symptoms, but rather Positive symptoms are symptoms added to the person, while negative symptoms are things taken away from the person.
- Delusions: Fixed, false beliefs that are not culturally sanctioned.
- Hallucinations: Perceptual experiences in which a person, sees, hears, smells, tastes, or feels, something that is not actually there.
- Loss of drive: The person may lack motivation and drive.
- Blunted emotions: The person may not express emotions or their emotions may be inappropriate for the circumstances.
- Social withdrawal: The person will often withdrawal from other people, even close family and friends.
- Cognitive impairment (Thinking Difficulties): The person may have trouble with concentration, memory and the ability to plan.
Risk Factors and Possible Causes of Schizophrenia:
- Genetic Factors: It is not directly inherited but people who have a parent who is affected or a family history are more likely to develop Schizophrenia.
- Biochemical factors: The changes in the brain caused by schizophrenia are not fully understood. However, chemical messengers in the brain seem to be involved.
- Stress: The onset of Schizophrenia often follows stressful events in a person’s life.
- Other Factors: There are otherfactorsthatmaycontribute in some causes. This could include:
- Head injury
- complications during pregnancy
- birth and early life
- and problems with brain development during adolescence.
Other Psychotic Disorders:
Sometimes a person can be diagnosed with more than one mental health problem. A Person with schizoaffective disorder meets the criteria of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder (i.e., depression or bipolar).
Sometimes depression can be so intense that it causes psychotic symptoms. For example. a person experiencing depression may have delusions involving guilt, severe physical illness, persecution or hopelessness.
Substance-Induced Psychotic Disorder
Psychosis with hallucinations and delusions can be brought on by substance use (intoxication or withdrawal).