Navigating Daily Life with Psychosis

Navigating Daily Life with Psychosis
Written By: Clinical Psychologist
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 24-11-2023

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Navigating Daily Life with Psychosis: A Practical Guide to Self-Care

An individual with psychosis, a disorder marked by a warped sense of reality, may find their everyday life greatly affected. It can be difficult to maintain a sense of normalcy when it presents as hallucinations, delusions or disordered thinking. However, people with psychosis can successfully navigate their daily lives and attain a good quality of life with the right management and self-care techniques.

The exact number of people who suffer from psychosis is unknown. According to studies, between 15 and 100 people out of 100,000 experience psychosis annually.

In young adulthood, psychosis typically starts in the late teens to mid-20s. Nonetheless, psychotic episodes can occur in people of all ages, as well as in conjunction with a variety of diseases and disorders. For example, older adults who suffer from neurological disorders may be more susceptible to psychosis. An individual with psychosis, a disorder marked by a warped sense of reality, may find their everyday life greatly affected. It can be difficult to maintain a sense of normalcy when it presents as hallucinations, delusions or disordered thinking. However, those suffering from psychosis can successfully navigate with the right management and self-care techniques.

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What are the Signs and Symptoms of Psychosis?

Delusions (false beliefs, such as that characters on television are sending them special messages or that others are out to get them) and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that others do not, such as voices telling them to do something or criticising them) are common in people with psychosis. Additional signs and symptoms may include inappropriate behaviour and incoherent or disoriented speech.

However, a person will often show changes in their behaviour before psychosis develops. Behavioural warning signs for psychosis include:

  • Suspiciousness, paranoid ideas, or uneasiness around others
  • Trouble thinking clearly and logically
  • Withdrawing socially and spending a lot more time alone
  • Unusual or overly intense ideas, strange feelings, or a lack of feelings
  • Decline in self-care or personal hygiene
  • Disruption of sleep, including difficulty falling asleep and reduced sleep time
  • Difficulty telling reality from fantasy
  • Confused speech or trouble communicating
  • A sudden drop in grades or job performance

Alongside these symptoms, a person with psychosis may also experience more general changes in behaviour that include:

  • Emotional disruption
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulty functioning overall

A person going through a psychotic episode may occasionally act strangely, erratically, hurt themselves, or act aggressively or menacingly towards others. It is crucial to receive treatment for psychosis since it lowers the risk of violence and suicide. Speak with a healthcare professional if you observe these behavioural changes in yourself or a friend or family member. It would be helpful to understand if these symptoms get worse or stay the same.

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What causes Psychosis?

Psychosis does not have one single aetiology. Studies have found a complicated interplay between hereditary susceptibility to psychosis, variations in brain development and exposure to stressors or trauma that causes psychosis. Psychosis could be a sign of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or deep depression, among other mental illnesses. It can occur in someone who has never received a schizophrenia or other illness diagnosis.

Psychosis symptoms in older people may be an indication of a medical or mental disorder that manifests later in life. Additionally, it may be a sign of many age-related illnesses, such as dementias linked to Parkinson s and Alzheimer s diseases.

Psychosis may also result from prescription medicine overuse, alcohol or drug abuse and sleep deprivation. Usually, a diagnosis of a mental disease like schizophrenia is made by ruling out these other explanations.

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How is Psychosis Treated?

Research indicates that it is typical for an individual to experience psychotic symptoms for over a year prior to seeking therapy. It is vital to shorten the time that psychosis remains untreated because early intervention frequently results in a better prognosis. A licensed social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist can diagnose a condition and assist in creating a treatment strategy.

Antipsychotic drugs are typically used to treat psychosis. It s crucial to engage with a healthcare professional to identify the antipsychotic medicine that is most effective and has the fewest side effects because there are various types of drugs and their effects may vary.

There are frequently additional components to treatment. Coordinated speciality care is a multi-component, recovery-oriented team approach to treating psychosis that encourages collaborative decision-making among experts, the patient, and their family members. It has strong research backing it up. If patients start treatment as soon as psychotic symptoms appear, they will benefit more from integrated specialized care.

There are several parts to coordinated speciality care:

Individual or Group Psychotherapy: The objectives of individual or group psychotherapy are customized for each patient. The purpose of cognitive and behavioural therapy is to help patients achieve their goals and preserve their resilience by teaching them the knowledge and skills they need to deal with the negative features of psychosis.

Family Support or Education Program: Family members are taught coping, communication, and problem-solving techniques as well as information regarding psychosis through family support and education programs. Informed and involved family members are better equipped to support loved ones during their rehabilitation.

Pharmacotherapy: Medical Management means choosing the right kind and dosage of medication to treat psychotic symptoms in a way that is customized to the needs of the individual. Antipsychotic drugs come with advantages and disadvantages like any other treatment. Concerns regarding side effects, prescription expenses and preferred dosages (daily pill vs monthly injection) should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

Supportive Environment and Education Services: With the assistance of a coach, individuals can attain their goals by returning to work or school with the help of supported employment and education programs.

Case Management: People with psychosis can work with a case manager to solve practical issues and enhance access to necessary support services through case management.

It is important to involve people with psychosis in the planning of their treatment and to consult them when making choices about their care. The treatment plans should be based on their requirements and objectives since this will keep them motivated throughout the healing process.

Finding a mental health expert who is skilled in treating psychosis and who also helps the patient feel at ease is crucial. Psychosis is treatable with the right medication and early diagnosis. It has been observed that at times if patients receive early therapeutic intervention, they may never experience another psychotic episode again. Others define recovery as the capacity to live a happy and useful life, even in the event that psychotic symptoms recur.

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Encouraging Facts about Psychosis

Psychosis can be managed. Although there isn t a treatment for psychosis at this time, it can be effectively controlled. Establishing a robust support network and obtaining appropriate medical care and self-help are crucial.

You can enjoy a fulfilling, meaningful life- You are capable of leading a happy, purposeful life. Most people with psychosis can have fulfilling relationships, work or engage in other important activities, contribute to their community, and enjoy life with the right care.

Just because you have psychosis doesn t mean you ll need to be hospitalized- A crisis that necessitates hospitalization is far less likely to occur if you are receiving the appropriate treatment and adhering to it.

The majority of psychosis clients recover- Many people who have psychosis go on to function normally again, sometimes even without any symptoms. Regardless of the difficulties you are now facing, hope never fades.

Self-Help Tips for Psychosis

Tip 1: Get Involved in Treatment & Self Help
Your chances of recovering from psychosis are better the earlier you are diagnosed and treated by a qualified mental health practitioner. Therefore, get help as soon as possible if you think you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of psychosis.

Treatment for psychosis that is successful depends on a number of variables. Medication on its own is insufficient. It s crucial to keep yourself informed about the illness, have open lines of communication with your physicians and therapists, create a solid support network, practice self-care, and adhere to your treatment plan. While self-help techniques like following the right diet, stress management, and social support seeking may not seem like practical means of managing a disorder as complex as schizophrenia, they can have a significant impact on the frequency and intensity of symptoms, enhance your mood, and boost your self-worth. Additionally, you ll feel less powerless and hopeless and your doctor will be more willing to lower your prescription if you take more care of yourself.

You should always have a say in the treatment process and your demands and concerns should be recognized, even if psychosis treatment should be tailored to your unique circumstances. When you, your family, and your medical team collaborate, treatment is most effective.

Our attitude towards psychosis treatment matters
Recognize & Accept your Diagnosis: Even though receiving a diagnosis of psychosis might be distressing, it is essential to your recovery that you make the decision to be proactive in your care and self-help. This entails adopting a healthier lifestyle, using prescription drugs, and showing up for therapy and doctor s appointments.

Reject the Stigma associated with Psychosis: Many misconceptions concerning psychosis are unfounded. One should treat their condition seriously and resist the notion that we are hopeless. Be in the company of people who see you for the person you truly are, not just your illness.

Speak with your Psychiatrist: Assist your doctor in making sure you re taking the appropriate drug at the optimal dose. Regarding side effects, worries, and other treatment-related difficulties, be truthful and forthright.

Seek treatment and self-help to assist you in managing your symptoms: Don t rely just on prescription drugs. You can recover control over your health and well-being and learn how to manage your symptoms with the use of self-help techniques. Supportive therapy can help you learn how to confront false ideas, silence inner critics, guard against relapse, and inspire yourself to stick with treatment and self-care.

Set and pursue your life s objectives:  It is not impossible to work, have relationships, or lead a full life if you have psychosis. After your sickness, set important life goals for yourself.

Receiving a Diagnosis
Accurately diagnosing psychosis is the first step toward treatment. This isn t always simple because schizophrenia symptoms might mimic those of other mental and physical health issues. In addition, patients with schizophrenia could refuse to see a doctor because they think everything is fine.

For these reasons, it is preferable to see a psychiatrist rather than a family physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating psychosis.

Tip 2: Get Active
Exercise has many psychological and physical advantages, but it can also help control the symptoms of psychosis. Getting physically active is something you can do right now to help you focus better, reduce stress, increase your energy, sleep better and feel calmer—assuming you re not going through a psychotic episode.

Finding a physical activity you enjoy and aiming for 30 minutes of movement most days is a better option than becoming an extreme fitness fanatic or signing up for a gym session. Three 10-minute sessions can work just as well if that s more convenient. Walking, running, swimming, or dancing are examples of rhythmic exercises that work both your arms and legs and can be particularly beneficial for reducing tension in your nervous system. Try to bring your attention to your body s sensations during your movement, such as the sensation of the wind on your skin, the rhythm of your breathing, or the way your feet strike the ground.

Tip 3: Seek Face to Face Support
The best method for reducing stress and calming your nervous system is to interact with people in person. Managing stress is crucial since it has the potential to precipitate psychosis and exacerbate the symptoms of psychosis. Look for someone you can connect with in person on a regular basis; someone you can talk to for hours on end who will listen to you without passing judgment or becoming sidetracked.

Having the support of others not only helps reduce stress but also significantly improves the prognosis for psychosis. You have a higher chance of becoming independent and preventing relapses when the people you care about are invested in your recovery.

Ways to Find Support
Consult with dependable family members and acquaintances. Your loved ones can support you in receiving the proper care, managing your symptoms, and reintegrating into your community. Inquire with your loved ones if you may call on them in an emergency. The majority of people will be touched by your desire for assistance.

Continue engaging with people. If you have the ability to carry on working or learning, do so. If not, follow your passion, take up a new pastime, or volunteer for a cause that matters to you or other people or animals. Helping others can keep you connected, give you a feeling of purpose, and increase your self-esteem.

Make new friends. By attending a support group for psychosis, you can get to know other individuals going through similar things and pick up helpful coping mechanisms. Alternatively, join a club, church, or other local organization.

Look for a place to live that is encouraging. Individuals with psychosis frequently perform at their best when they are able to live at home around their family. If it isn t a practical choice for you, a lot of places provide residential and treatment centres. Seek a place to live that will allow you to adhere to your treatment and self-help plans, should be stable, and should give you a sense of security.

Make use of the local resources for assistance. Consult with your physician or therapist about local resources, and make contact with hospitals and mental health facilities.

Tip 4: Manage your Stress
Living with a difficult emotional disease like psychosis can be extremely stressful on a daily basis. Excessive stress also causes the body to produce more cortisol, a hormone that can cause psychotic episodes. There are several things you may do to lower your stress levels in addition to working out and maintaining social connections:

Recognize your boundaries at home, at work, and in the classroom: If you feel overburdened, take some time for yourself and don t take on more than you can manage.

Reduce tension by using relaxation techniques: Stress can be reduced and your body and mind can rebalance with methods including progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and mindfulness meditation.

Control your feelings: Comprehending and embracing emotions, particularly those disagreeable ones that the majority of us attempt to suppress, can significantly impact your capacity to handle stress, preserve emotional equilibrium, and take charge of your life.

Tip 5: Take Care of Yourself
Making simple lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on the way you feel as well as your symptoms.

Aim for a lot of sleep: It s likely that you require even more sleep than the recommended eight hours when taking medicine. Sleep problems are common in persons with psychosis; but, frequent exercise, cutting back on sugar in your diet, and avoiding coffee can all help.

Avert drugs and alcohol: It can be alluring to attempt to use alcohol and drugs as a kind of self-medication for psychotic symptoms. However, abusing drugs exacerbates symptoms of schizophrenia and makes treatment more difficult. Seek assistance if you are struggling with substance abuse.

Consume a well-balanced diet: Consuming healthy meals on a regular basis can help prevent psychosis and other symptoms of psychosis that are caused by significant fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Reduce your intake of sugar and processed carbohydrates, which can cause a rapid drop in mood and energy. Increase your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids by eating walnuts, flaxseeds, fish oil, and fatty fish to help elevate mood, eliminate weariness, and enhance attention.

Tip 6: Understand the Role of Medications
Antipsychotic medication will very probably be administered to you if you have been diagnosed with psychosis. The earlier, or "typical," antipsychotic drug class and the more recent, or "atypical" antipsychotic drug class are the two primary pharmacological classes used to treat psychosis. It s critical to realize that medicine is only one aspect of treating psychosis.

Medication merely addresses a portion of the symptoms of psychosis; it is not a cure. Antipsychotic drugs lessen delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, and distorted thought patterns, among other psychotic symptoms. However, it is far less effective in treating symptoms of psychosis like motivation loss, social disengagement, and emotional repression.

Requiring you to put up with incapacitating side effects is not fair. Very unpleasant—even incapacitating—side effects from psychosis medications might include sleepiness, low energy, erratic movements, weight gain, and dysfunctional sexual behaviour. If side effects are bothering you, medical attention may be required.

Managing daily life with psychosis can be challenging, but with proper treatment and self-care strategies, individuals can achieve stability and a fulfilling life. The key lies in a comprehensive approach that addresses both the psychological and physical aspects of the condition.

Seek Professional Help: Establish a strong relationship with a mental health professional who can provide ongoing support and guidance. Medication, therapy and case management play crucial roles in managing symptoms and preventing relapse.

Establish a Routine: Create a consistent daily schedule that includes adequate sleep, regular exercise and a healthy diet. This structure helps regulate mood, reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

Identify Stressors: Recognize situations or activities that trigger or exacerbate symptoms. Develop coping mechanisms such as mindfulness techniques or relaxation exercises to manage these stressors effectively.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Avoid substance abuse as alcohol and drugs can worsen psychotic symptoms. Prioritize a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and adequate sleep to promote overall health and mental well-being.

Build a Support Network: Surround yourself with supportive individuals who understand your condition and can offer encouragement and assistance. Engage in social activities and maintain meaningful relationships to enhance your sense of belonging and reduce social isolation.

Seek Early Signs of Warning: Be aware of early warning signs of relapse, such as changes in sleep patterns, increased anxiety, or unusual thoughts/beliefs. Promptly communicate these changes to your mental health team for timely intervention.

Educate Yourself: Gain knowledge about psychosis and its treatment options. This empowers you to make informed decisions about your care and advocate for your own needs.

Practice Self-Care: Engage in activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction, such as yoga, meditation, or spending time in nature. Prioritize self-compassion and accept that recovery is a gradual process.

Remember managing psychosis is a lifelong journey that requires ongoing effort and collaboration with your healthcare team. With dedication and the right strategies, individuals can achieve stability, independence, and a fulfilling life.

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