What Psychosis is All About

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What is Psychosis?

Psychosis is a mental health problem which makes a person interpret or perceive the things around him differently. The thinking and emotions of the affected person are so impaired that he’s already lost in contact with reality. People suffering from psychosis are referred to as psychotic.

Symptoms and Causes

There are two main symptoms of Psychosis:

  1. Hallucinations – when a person sees, hears or feels things that are not really there. Examples: Hearing voices, feeling insects on skin, seeing imaginary visions or images.
  2. Delusions – when a person has false thoughts or believes in things that are obviously untrue. Examples: Believing that he’s related to a famous person, believing his cat is plotting to kill him.

Another symptom of psychosis is the flight of ideas or when a person’s thoughts move too quickly from one idea to the next. It’s also called the ‘word salad’ or ‘thought disorder’. A person experiencing this might lose control of his words and link words together not because of their meaning but simply because they sound alike.

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Here are some of its common causes:

-Alcohol

-Stroke

-Stress

-Epilepsy

-Illegal drugs

-Brain cysts or tumors

-Dementia

-HIV

-Traumatic Experiences

-Infections affecting the brain

-Prescription drugs (steroids, stimulants)

-Brain diseases (Parkinson’s, Huntington’s)

-Psychological Disorders (Schizophrenia, Bipolar and Personality Disorders)

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Types of Psychosis

There are 3 main types of Psychosis:

  1. Brief Reactive Psychosis – Temporary reaction to extreme personal stress like death of a loved one. A person suffering from this will eventually recover in a few days.
  2. Drug- or Alcohol-Related Psychosis – A person can experience this type of psychosis in two ways – short-term and long-term. Short-term psychosis is when a certain drug or alcohol resulted in a psychotic episode – but it usually goes away when the effect of the drug or alcohol wears off. Long-term psychosis happens when a person addicted to a drug or alcohol suddenly stops taking or drinking it.
  3. Organic Psychosis – This type of Psychosis is caused by a brain illness like Parkinson’s disease.

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Treatment and Recovery

Treating psychosis often involves a combination of treatments. Here are the three most commonly used methods to treat psychosis:

  1. Rapid Tranquilization – There are times when a person having a psychotic episode becomes so agitated that he might hurt himself or other people around him. During these cases, a doctor will administer a fast-acting shot to calm and relax the patient right away.
  2. Drugs and Medication – There are medications called ‘antipsychotics’ which reduce hallucinations and delusions. They also help a patient think more clearly.
  3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – This means that a patient will have regular meetings with a mental health counselor. Its goal is to change the mindset and behavior of the patient.

Phobia: What You Need to Know and More

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What is a phobia?

A phobia can be defined as a type of anxiety disorder which causes varying levels of overwhelming fear of a certain object or situation. The person affected will go to great lengths just to avoid this object or situation completely. Most of the time, he knows that his fear is unreasonable and not life-threatening at all. However, he cannot control how he feels towards the specific object and will do everything to avoid it. When the time comes that the sufferer will have to face it, he will undergo a lot of terror and stress. This experience can cause intense psychological and physical reactions – some people hyperventilate, get shocked and some can even lose consciousness when faced with the thing they fear the most.

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What are its causes?

There is no known cause of phobias. However, a lot of factors can trigger a person’s fear of a specific object. Most phobias develop during childhood. It’s also quite surprising but some phobias run in the families. They can also come from one’s culture or upbringing. Certain life events can also trigger a person’s fear. One unfortunate encounter with an object can make a person avoid all kinds of that object. For example, after getting chased by a mean-looking dog, a boy gets scared of every dog he encounters from that moment on.

 

The Different Kinds of Phobias

Phobias are classified into three categories:

  1. Specific phobia – Irrational fear of a specific object. Examples: Fear of heights, animals, clowns, airplanes.
  2. Social phobia – Excessive self-consciousness and fear of public humiliation. Examples: Public speaking, stage fright, being in the spotlight.
  3. Fear of Open Spaces (agoraphobia) – Fear of an actual situation. Examples: Using public transportation, being in a too much crowded place, being in open or enclosed spaces.

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Specific Phobias

There are four general types of specific phobias:

  1. Animal – Most common specific phobias. Fear of animals most specially dogs, rats, snakes and insects.
  2. Natural environment – Fear of natural occurrences such as storms, heights, water and the dark.
  3. Situational – This phobia involves fear of specific situations like flying, driving, riding an elevator, riding in a car and bridges.
  4. Blood-Injection-Injury – Fear of blood, injections, wounds and medical procedures.

Girls standing apart from others in school --- Image by © Heide Benser/Corbis

When to Seek Treatment

            Having a certain type of phobia is perfectly normal. However, if it disrupts his daily routine and activities and affects how he functions, a person should seek psychological help immediately. Most people get better with the right therapy.