Schizophrenia and Psychotic Disorders
Psychotic disorders are hard to understand, and more research is being done to help. What we do know about them is how they make it hard for those afflicted to stay fully functioning. Loss of mental cognition (the ability to think) can affect judgment, emotional regulation, communication, and the ability to process what is happening in their world. In severe cases, staying in touch with reality and handling daily life becomes difficult.
There are different types of psychotic disorders. Two of the main symptoms that are included in each are hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations are related to sensory perception: touch, taste, smell, but most often hallucinations are seeing and hearing things that are not really there. Delusions are thoughts that are not true. Delusions could include paranoia about being watched by the government, or delusions of grandeur like being a saviour of the world, or even romantic like a famous star is in love with them although they’ve never met.
When these symptoms are lasting longer than 6 months, including all related diagnostic features, it falls in the category of Schizophrenia. If there are mood related disorders as well, the diagnosis may be adjusted to include Schizoaffective Disorder. When the symptoms are only related to drug use, Drug-induced psychotic disorder is possible. Diagnosis is very important because it leads to the proper treatment. If a psychotic disorder is found in its early stages the research indicates higher probability of positive prognosis. This means, the earlier you are treated the better your chances for positive outcomes.
As soon as there are signs that you, or someone you know, may be in need of help, please see a mental health professional. Even if you are not sure if you have psychotic features, coming in for treatment can clarify and help in improving your life. If there is a sudden drop in grades or work performance, inability to concentrate, self-care, and declines in social behavior these are red flags to consider. Increase of being suspicious of others, having sudden strong emotions (or none at all), and hearing and seeing (or other sensing) of things that others cannot perceive are clear indicators of need for treatment.
Treatment for psychosis involves psychotherapy and medication. Patients are taught self-management strategies and education can be given to families and support systems for ongoing care.