large number of people will experience psychotic features without ever
receiving a diagnosis. For many, significant life events or stresses
are often precursors to psychotic reactions.
For a person experiencing psychosis, their perceptions, thoughts, feelings
and behaviour may be dramatically different to their usual experience
or of the people around them, sometimes for no apparent reason. This
can be frightening and upsetting for both the psychotic person and those
who care for them. This is not the same as someone having different
opinions, beliefs, attitudes or world view from other people who know
Psychotic features vary with individuals and change over time. Onset
may be very slow making it difficult to realise that something is changing.
Whilst nobody’s experience of psychosis will be the same, characteristics
can include :
for example, hearing voices or sounds with no external cause or seeing
things others can not.
Delusions - generally
regarded as entrenched personal beliefs that are resistant to even the
most logical argument, including those of a paranoid nature for example,
believing that you are at the centre of an elaborate conspiracy and
being monitored by radio devices.
Confused thinking - for
example difficulties making logical connections between one thought
and the next, finding your mind ‘flooded’ with random ideas,
finding thoughts are accelerated at a pace you can not keep up with.
Changes in Behaviour -
such as suspiciousness of others, loss of interest in usual activities,
poor self care, irritability.
Sometimes, reality can become blurred and it becomes difficult to be
sure what is real.
The difficult decision about when to seek help is often left to friends
and family. Professional investigation may be needed if there are marked
negative changes in someone’s normal functioning and/or signs
that they are distressed and unable to cope.