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Psychosis

Psychosis is a psychiatric term, and describes experiences such as hearing or seeing things or holding unusual beliefs, which other people don’t see or share.

A psychosis can sometimes lead to disturbances in people’s thinking, emotions and behaviour. Some common symptoms of psychosis include – depression, anxiety, irritability, suspiciousness, changes in eating, reduced energy, difficulty in concentrating, odd ideas and so on.

Here are some common forms of psychosis:

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is nothing to do with ‘spilt personality’. The term schizophrenia means ‘fractured mind’ and refers to changes in mental function when thoughts and perceptions are changed. It affects thinking, feeling and behaviour.

It can affect people from all walks of life. The first symptoms often develop in early adulthood and vary from person to person, but may remain undiagnosed.

For some, the illness may start suddenly, usually (the young) person becomes unwell very quickly and very severely. Their thoughts may become muddled or they may experience hallucinations. For others the change may happen gradually.

The person may experience:

  • Hallucinations (hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling or tasting something that doesn’t exist, as if it were real)
  • Hearing voices is the most common hallucination experienced
  • The person may hold false and often-unusual beliefs that they may feel are very real. For example, someone might fear that they are being watched or followed. These beliefs are called delusions
  • The person appears to show little emotion or when they do it may appear out of context e.g. crying at a joke
  • They may say very little and rarely initiative a conversation. They may speak in a way that will seem muddled and illogical, conveying little meaning. They may think or act in a way that cannot be easily understood

Bipolar Disorder / Manic Depression

Bipolar Disorder and Manic Depression refer to the same mental health problem. Diagnosis is often difficult as symptoms are complicated, proper treatment is often delayed for up to a decade following first symptoms. Anybody can develop bipolar disorder.

Between 10-20% of people with bipolar disorder will take their own life, and up to a third will make a suicide attempt.

Bipolar disorder involves extreme mood swings (highs and lows). It can often happen when work, studies, family or emotional pressures are at their highest. In women it can be triggered by childbirth or during the menopause. The first episode of being unwell usually happens as a teenager when hormonal changes or major life changes (like leaving home) can trigger the condition.

Mania is a term used for periods of great elation.

  • A person’s mind will race
  • They may talk very quickly
  • Be full of energy
  • Not sleep much
  • Or the extreme - begin to believe they have special powers or abilities
  • Spend lots of money
  • Have extreme religious beliefs
  • Take dangerous risks

Bipolar can often occur in phases, often with long periods with no problem in between. Some people only have one serious period of being unwell in their lifetime.

A key to recovery from bipolar disorder seems to be quick diagnosis and treatment. If you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed, please visit your GP and talk to a close friend or family member who may be able to help you.

Personality Disorder

A personality is the collection of the ways we think, feel and behave, making each of us an individual and allowing us to interact with other people. But for some of us this isn’t the case.

You may have a personality disorder if:

  • Parts of your personality make it hard for you to live with yourself and other people
  • Experience doesn’t teach you how to change the unhelpful parts of yourself
  • You find it hard to make or keep relationships with friends, family and work colleagues
  • You find it hard to control your feelings or behaviour
  • You find that you upset or harm other people because you’re distressed

The cause of a personality disorder is not clear but there is some evidence that, similar to other mental disorders, genes the brain and a person’s background can all play a part. There are many ways to treat personality disorders, please seek help from your GP or talk to someone if you are worried about anything in this section.

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