Psychosis is a manifestation of mental illness that develops over time. A person with psychosis has an impaired relationship with reality and may experience loss of motivation, and social withdrawal. It is essential to receive support and treatment to fully recover from or manage the condition, which can manifest in a variety of ways.
One of the most notable features of psychosis is a tendency to believe in false or irrational ideas. What distinguishes psychosis from psychologically sound thinking is an inability to change a perception, despite evidence that it is inaccurate or not real. Affected individuals often cling to beliefs, and their convictions do not evolve over time. When challenged, they may become irritable and unwilling to accept other people’s opinions.
Hallucinations, along with delusions, are one of the hallmark symptoms of psychosis. Often exaggerated in movies and media, hallucinations usually do not cause people to see fantastical or mystical visions. However, they can make an individual feel, see, and hear things that are not really there. Hallucinations can also come in the form of scents or odors that don’t exist. The severity of psychosis symptoms varies from person to person. The most common hallucination is hearing a voice that isn’t really there. Often, the voice transmits a message that is negative or hurtful to the individual or the people close to them.
People with psychosis often have difficulty thinking coherently, and their thoughts may be confused or difficult to express. They may also develop jumbled or slurred speech. A person with psychosis may blurt out words or phrases that do not make sense, mix up sentences, or change topics frequently. Some people may also find it hard to remember names, places, or dates and have difficulty learning new things.
A person with psychosis may exhibit disordered behavior. He or she may be irritable and may have trouble engaging in social relationships. Their behavior may seem infantile, and when spoken to, they may become easily agitated. Sometimes, they may be aggressive and prone to insulting the other person. They may have difficulty conforming to behavioral standards and social cues. Some people with psychosis stop practicing general self-maintenance, as well.
Psychosis can cause an individual to become suspicious of things and the people around them. A person with psychosis may believe that others are following them or are intent on harming themselves or their family. This paranoia can develop at any stage of the condition. The person may grow worried or even scared of people they are familiar with, including friends and family. In most cases, the person will feel uneasy without knowing why, which makes this a troubling symptom to experience.
Believing in the supernatural is a frequently observed trait among people with psychosis. Often, these beliefs stem from dreams or a suspicion that other people can read their minds. This symptom can also manifest as attributing overly strong significance from and connection to small events, leading to wild theories about their circumstances. These symptoms make it even more difficult for the individual to identify what is real and what is not.
Some people with psychosis experience unusually heightened senses, though there is no physical reason for their sensitivity. For example, they may hear sounds as louder as they really are, or see shadows that look like human figures. In extreme cases, someone with psychosis may interpret everyday sights and sounds as having new or special meaning. These altered senses further exacerbate feelings of fear and paranoia.
People who have hypochondria express an irrational fear of having or developing a disease. The condition causes nearly constant health-related anxiety that can make other symptoms of psychosis, such as paranoia, even more prominent. The individual is likely to express extensive and possibly even obsessive concern about their health and may seek medical attention frequently.
Mood changes in people with psychosis generally manifest in two stages. First, the individual experiences mania or extreme happiness and energy. A depressive mood follows, leaving the person sad, and fatigued. They may also lose their appetite or have difficulty sleeping. These fluctuations are common in people with bipolar disorder, a mental health condition characterized by extreme shifts in mood.
Postnatal psychosis is a type of mental illness that affects one to two in every 1,000 women in the weeks following childbirth. Because the condition can significantly impact future mental health, it is important for any new mothers who feel extreme depression and abnormal fatigue to see a doctor as soon as possible. Women who have a family history of bipolar disorder or other mental health conditions are at a higher risk of developing postnatal psychosis.