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Understanding Psychosis

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  1. An Introduction to Psychotic Disorders
    What is Psychosis?
  2. Introduction to Psychosis and Treatment Options
  3. The Signs & Symptoms of Psychosis
    The Signs & Symptoms of Psychosis
  4. Delusions
    3 Topics
  5. Hallucinations
    1 Topic
  6. Reacting to Psychotic Experiences
  7. The Causes of Psychosis
    Exploring the Causes of Psychosis
  8. Diagnosing Psychotic Disorders
    The Diagnosis of Schizophrenia
  9. The Diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder
    5 Topics
  10. Treatment for Psychosis
    Treatment Available for Psychosis
    5 Topics
  11. What Are Antipsychotic Drugs?
    8 Topics
  12. The Side Effects of Antipsychotics
    12 Topics
  13. Mental Health Services
    Hospital Admission and Crisis Services
  14. Community Care and Advocacy for Psychosis
  15. Living with Psychosis
    Overcoming Psychotic Experiences
  16. How Can I Help Myself During a Psychotic Episode?
  17. What Can Family & Friends Do to Help?
  18. Challenging Stereotypes and Stigma
Lesson 1 of 18
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What is Psychosis?5.5mins

What is Psychosis?

“When we dream, all sorts of strange things can happen to us, but we still believe that they’re really happening to us. Hearing voices can be like that – a waking dream – but something that is experienced as real.”

“After a psychotic episode, one needs to re-learn how to perceive the world in a normal, ordinary, standard way, just like everybody else.”

“The problem is not so much the voices, as the inability to cope with them.”

“We should let people decide for themselves what helps or not.”

“My eyelids were bulging, my skin was greasy and grainy, my hair like rats’ tails… I looked like everybody’s image of a mental patient – but it was entirely a medication effect.”

“I needed someone who could just be there – non-judgmental, solid, not trying to force me to do this or that, just being with me and helping me to make sense of some very frightening, but also very beautiful and visionary experiences.”

In the realm of the human mind, a labyrinth of thoughts, emotions, and perceptions exists. It is within this intricate maze that we find ourselves confronted with the enigmatic phenomenon known as psychotic experiences. These experiences encompass a wide range of manifestations, from hearing voices that whisper in the shadows to holding beliefs that defy logic and reason. They can be both captivating and terrifying, like an ethereal dance between reality and fantasy.

Psychotic experiences have long been shrouded in mystery and misunderstanding. Often dismissed as mere figments of imagination or signs of madness, they carry a heavy burden of stigma that isolates those who bear their weight. It is time to unravel these misconceptions and shed light on the true nature of these phenomena.

Diagnoses such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, puerperal psychosis (a very severe postnatal depression) or bipolar disorder with psychotic features are often assigned to individuals experiencing psychotic episodes. However, it is important to recognise the lack of clarity in these classifications. The boundaries between different diagnoses remain blurry at best, leaving many individuals feeling lost in a sea of uncertainty.

The purpose of this course is not to label or categorise but rather to foster understanding and support for those grappling with psychotic experiences. By challenging the stigma surrounding mental health problems, we hope to create an environment where individuals feel empowered to seek help without fear or shame.

One sign of psychosis, as far as Psychiatrists are concerned, is if you lack insight into your own state of mind. They would want to know how you see and understand what is happening and whether you are aware of being different from usual. If you are experiencing psychosis you may find it hard to talk about your experiences and understanding of the world because you feel no words can describe how you feel and think.

Psychotic experiences can have a profound impact on daily life. They can disrupt relationships, derail careers, and cast doubt upon one’s own sanity. Yet within this chaos lies the immense potential for growth and resilience.

How do individuals react when faced with these extraordinary occurrences? The reactions vary greatly from person to person; some may find themselves overwhelmed by fear and confusion while others may navigate through them with remarkable composure. Understanding our own unique reactions is crucial in finding ways to cope effectively.

Hearing voices stand out as one of the most prevalent forms of psychotic experiences. These auditory hallucinations can be both captivating and disconcerting, ranging from gentle whispers of encouragement to menacing taunts that shatter one’s sense of security. In the following lesson, we will delve into the intricacies of hearing voices and explore strategies for managing their influence.

Another form of psychotic experience that captivates the human psyche are delusions. These unfounded beliefs can take hold with an iron grip, distorting one’s perception of reality. Whether it be a conviction in a royal connection or a paralysing fear of persecution, delusions shape our understanding of the world in profound ways. We will examine these delusions in-depth, unravelling their complexities and shedding light on their impact.

What drives these extraordinary experiences? The causes are multifaceted and often intertwined. Physical triggers such as sleep deprivation, illnesses, substance abuse, brain damage or dementia, and changes in blood sugar levels can all contribute to the onset of psychosis. Psychological factors such as stressors or traumatic events can further increase vulnerability to these experiences. Understanding these causes is vital in developing effective interventions.

A large number of ordinary people have heard voices in the normal course of life, particularly during periods of stress or loss such as bereavement, divorce or separation. Many people also hold beliefs that others might consider unusual. As the experiences do not distress them or don’t return, they are never in contact with mental health services.

There is a view that putting diagnostic labels on someone’s experiences is questionable and not objective. Such labels may even be harmful because the stigma attached, by society, to having mental health problems can worsen their situation and their symptoms.

Yet within this labyrinthine landscape lies hope for recovery. While some may only experience a single episode or short-lived episodes throughout life, others may find themselves living with ongoing psychosis. This course aims to offer solace by introducing treatments and coping strategies that can reduce disruption and enable individuals to lead fulfilling lives amidst their unique challenges.

As we embark on this journey through understanding psychotic experiences, let us not forget the social implications they carry. Prejudice, discrimination, and social exclusion weigh heavily upon those who bear the label of mental health problems. It is crucial that we challenge stereotypes and fight against stigma with unwavering determination. By joining organisations working towards eliminating discrimination and fostering understanding, we can pave the way for a more inclusive society.

In this course lies an invitation to explore the depths of our own minds as we seek to understand the mysterious world of psychotic experiences. It is a journey that requires courage, empathy, and the willingness to challenge our own preconceptions. Let us embark on this voyage together, for only through understanding can we truly grasp the complexities of the human psyche.

Course Discussion