The first episode of psychosis can be the beginning of a serious mental illness.
Early diagnosis and treatment of psychosis gives a person the best chance of recovering, and it helps prevent severe complications. However, the symptoms of psychosis can often limit a person’s ability to realize that he or she is ill. These symptoms can be overwhelming for family and friends to understand, so there’s a temptation to ignore the problems and hope they’ll just go away. But the longer the illness is left untreated, the greater the disruption to the person’s family, friends, studies, and work.
Symptoms of psychosis
Psychosis affects the mind and causes a person to lose touch with reality. It causes changes in thinking, mood and behavior.
The potential symptoms of psychosis include:
- Disorganized thinking which leads the individual to have difficulty staying on a topic or telling a clear story.
- Delusions - false beliefs that are firmly held despite evidence against them.
- Hallucinations - sensory experiences that occur without any external stimulus. Most often, the hallucinations involve hearing voices or seeing things that are not there.
- Disorganized or abnormal behavior. The behavior often makes it difficult for the person to perform the basic activities of daily living such as hygiene, eating, and dressing.
- A decrease in the ability to express emotions and in motivation to engage in usual activities. These changes lead to the person making poor eye contact and having little or no facial expression of emotion as well as having little or no interest in social contacts.
Treatment for psychosis
Coordinated specialty care has proven to be effective with first episode psychosis. Psychotherapy (talk therapy) and case management play important roles in treatment along with several other interventions.
Antipsychotic medication is also central to treatment. These drugs may have side effects. It’s important to work closely with the prescriber/provider, because there may be another medication that’s both effective and tolerable. For patients who struggle to comply with taking a daily dose of medication, there are several medications in long-acting injection form.
For more information about first episode psychosis, call our behavioral health team toll-free at 1-800-873-2246, TTY 711.