Schizophrenia and Psychosis

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Schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness affecting around 1% of the population. It is characterised by symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions along with disorganised and chaotic thoughts. Currently there is no cure and no one knows what causes it as many factors appear to be involved including genetics as it does have a tendency to run in families.

What is Psychosis?

Psychosis can be described as a mental health problem affecting the brain where the individual finds it difficult to differentiate between what is real and what is not. This can influence how you understand and interpret reality and can result in hallucinations and delusions. It can also affect mood and emotions as well as how you think and process ideas. Thinking can become illogical and irrational and the individual may feel they are not in control of their thoughts.

Psychosis is most likely to occur in young adulthood but can happen at any time. Someone who has experienced hallucinations and delusions is said to have had a psychotic episode. Psychotic episodes are a common feature of schizophrenia as well as other mental health conditions.

What are hallucinations?

Hallucinations can involve any one of the senses such as sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. For example, the individual may hear voices in their head that no one else can hear or see and feel things that aren’t really there. These experiences are very real to the person with schizophrenia and can be extremely frightening and cause a lot of anxiety and stress.

What are delusions?

Delusions can be described as believing in something which simply isn’t true and continuing to believe in it no matter what evidence is presented to the contrary. For example, someone suffering from delusions may believe they can fly or that an external force has taken over their mind and body. They may think an organisation or an individual is out to get them or may believe they have magical powers. These experiences can be distressing and alarming for both the sufferer and those close to them.

The prognosis

Some people will experience only one psychotic episode in their life time whereas others may have many. Some will go on to make a full recovery whereas others may need a lifetime of treatment, medication and support. Unfortunately, many people with schizophrenia won’t recognise they have a problem and will not seek help; however, it’s vitally important to get help as early as possible schizophrenia is unlikely to go away on its own.

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