Psychosis produces emotional and behavioral changes in patients. Tell—tale symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, and confusion Table 02. Psychotic hallucinations are often visual or auditory. Patients may see things that are not there or hear voices. Occasionally, hallucinations involve the other senses — taste, touch, and smell. Psychotic patients suffering from delusions are so convinced of their false belief that even the most rational argument cannot dissuade them. A patient may believe he is George Washington or think that she has magic powers. Delusions are sometimes paranoid; patients might feel that their lives are in danger, and call the police repeatedly. Confusion is also common in psychosis; thoughts tend to be muddled, and speech stops making sense.
Radical shifts in emotions and behavior may accompany psychosis, but are not considered to be psychotic symptoms. The patient might become incredibly happy and overactive, or severely depressed and lethargic. He or she may laugh at odd times, or become angered and upset for no apparent reason.
Table 2. Symptoms of Psychosis
Confused thoughts Speech that is hard to understand Delusions (firmly held false beliefs) Hallucinations (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling something that is not there) Altered emotions (overly emotional, not showing any emotion at all, depression, mania) Unusual behavior (laughing at inappropriate times, becoming angry for no reason) Neglect of personal hygiene Inability to function Loss of interest in daily activities
Although psychosis can affect all age groups, it often occurs in younger people. Psychosis caused by a psychiatric disorder such as schizophrenia or manic depression usually starts during the teen years or in early adulthood. In young people, psychosis can be mistaken for normal teenage rebellion, or can be associated with drug and alcohol use. Depression—related psychosis typically begins after adolescence, and may appear during the second or third decade.
Having a family history of schizophrenia puts you at risk for psychosis.
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