Psychotic Disorders: What You Need To Know
While seeking immediate medical attention for a stomach ache, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol tends to be the natural course of action for most people, Why is it that we fail to extend the same course of action when we face problems of the mind?
Poor mental health is as serious as any other ailment. As a matter of fact, a National Mental Health Survey recently discovered that approximately 150 million people in India are in urgent need for mental health care, a condition that is unfortunately routinely ignored.
Mental Illnesses or Psychotic Disorders can disrupt and (derail) your life. Read on to learn how you can recognise the signs and symptoms of mental diseases in you or your loved ones.
How Can Poor Mental Health Affect Your Normal Functioning?
1 in 5 adults in India live with a mental health condition like depression and 1 in 17 have some serious medical illnesses like Parkinson’s Disease. This affects various aspects of normal functioning, such as driving or maintaining social relationships. It can also disrupt relationships with friends and family.
Poor mental health is a result of many, connected causes. It could be due to:
- Personal traumatic events
- Stress in a relationship or job
- Biochemical changes in your brain
- Metabolic disturbances
Living with a mental illness can affect your physical well being, ability to work, and your relationship with family and friends. While basic disorders like anxiety can typically cause mild disruptions in your daily life, serious mental illnesses like Psychotic Disorders have a higher probability of causing lasting damage to your life and have major implications on your personality, beliefs, and behaviour.
What Are Psychotic Disorders?
Psychotic disorders (or thought disorders) are severe mental disorders. They can cause abnormal thoughts and perceptions in a person and make him or her lose touch with the real world.
People with psychotic disorders experience ‘psychotic episodes’. During a psychotic episode, a person becomes unaware of reality. He or she will experience hallucinations, delusions, chaotic speech, and incoherent behaviour. Some studies believe that genetics, metabolic disturbances, and allergens might cause psychotic disorders.
What Are The Types Of Psychotic Disorders?
The different types of Psychotic Disorders include:
Schizophrenia is a severe mental health disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, reason, and act. It leads to delusions, or a belief in alternate realities, that affect real, day-to-day life.
John Nash, the Nobel-prize winning mathematician, was famously known to be a Schizophrenic.
It usually shows symptoms during late adolescence or early adulthood. Genetic factors, substance abuse or a chemical imbalance in the brain may be major contributing factors. A traumatic incident in a person’s life may also be a probable cause of Schizophrenia.
Schizoaffective Disorder is a combination of Mood Disorders and Schizophrenia. A person with Schizoaffective Disorder will experience symptoms of mania or major depression along with hallucinations and grandiose delusions.
Schizophreniform Disorder is a temporary mental illness like Schizophrenia. It usually affects teenagers and young adults. Symptoms last between 1 to 6 months.
Schizophreniform Disorder may escalate to Schizophrenia, despite treatment. The causes of Schizophreniform Disorder are being investigated currently.
Delusional Disorder is a rare mental health condition in which a person believes in an alternate reality. It was earlier known as a paranoid disorder, with the most common type being Psychosis.
People with Delusional Disorder experience non-bizarre delusions. For example, being followed, poisoned, or deceived. They are usually misinterpreted experiences that are untrue and exaggerated.
The different types of delusions that a person may experience are:
- Erotomanic delusions (a belief that someone is in love with them)
- Grandiose delusions (experiencing power and higher worth)
- Persecutory delusions (a constant feeling of mistreatment)
- Jealousy (feelings of mistrust on a partner)
- Somatic (believing that he or she has a serious medical condition)
Substance-induced Psychotic Disorder
Certain drugs and substances like marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, LSD, opioids, and steroids can lead to an early onset of Substance-induced Psychotic Disorder.
When you stop a certain drug, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Delusions or hallucinations may go away after a period of time. But it may return at a later stage if you resume drugs or don’t receive psychiatric help on time.
Psychotic Disorders Due to Existing Medical Conditions
A psychotic disorder may stem from existing medical conditions like:
- Alzheimer’s Disease,
- Brain Tumour,
- HIV or AIDS,
- Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar),
- Multiple Sclerosis,
- Parkinson’s Disease,
Are Schizophrenia and Psychosis The Same?
Schizophrenia has unique symptoms (also known as attributes), that add to hallucinations and delusions. A person with Schizophrenia will experience Psychosis and psychotic episodes.
Psychosis, however, is not a medical illness on its own. It is a symptom.
An interesting dialogue by Professor Matt Walker from UC Berkeley describes a condition called ‘Nightly Psychosis’. Nightly Psychosis is a condition in where people dream, see, and hear things that aren’t there during various stages of REM sleep.
Researchers now believe that that Psychosis could be a possible side effect of sleep deprivation.
How Can You Spot That Someone Is Having A Psychotic Episode?
During a psychotic episode, a person may exhibit radical, inappropriate behaviour like:
- Laughing at a funeral,
- Incoherent speech,
- Catatonia (an inability to move, abnormal involuntary movement, or unresponsiveness)
Which Apparent “Normal Behaviour” May Actually Indicate A Mental Illness?
British psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas introduced peculiar ‘normal behaviours’ that cause 'Normotic Illness'.
The Normopath may come across as a regular person who fits into society and does well for themselves. But they will display an extra, controlled enthusiasm over any creative expression.
An example of Normopathic behaviour is when parents display high levels of competitiveness when they play games with their children. A normal parent will only involve themselves to enjoy the activity.
Can Psychotic Disorders Be Cured?
Psychotic Disorders are treated with antipsychotic medications and psychotherapy. Each person will have a different recovery time which may range from a few weeks to several years.
Psychotic Disorders are as serious as any other medical condition. In India, people with mental illnesses are often shunned from society. This stigma around mental diseases makes it even more difficult for them to recover.
As a nation, it is time we make ourselves more aware of mental health and mental diseases. Consult a healthcare professional if you experience any symptoms of a Psychotic Disorder.