Psychosis

Psychosis is an over-arching term covering a range of associated symptoms such as delusions, illusions, hallucinations and thought and language disturbances. Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are included under this heading. Anxiety and depression regularly accompany these symptoms (Oliver, Joseph, Byrne et al, 2013). The individual may lack insight and although distressed or uneasy, may not be aware they are mentally ill.

A diagnosis of psychosis can be complicated as no two individuals have the same symptoms. There could be different reasons as to why someone might develop psychosis including a genetic, biological, or psychological predisposition, or substance misuse or environmental stressors playing an influential role.

Psychotic symptoms can also be reported by individuals with other mental health problems such as bipolar disorder, mood disorders, and personality disorders, particularly Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) (Oliver et al, 2013).

In making a diagnosis of psychosis, a psychiatrist will also investigate the degree to which symptoms are disrupting the individual’s life.

Reference: Treatment Protocol Project (2004). Management of Mental Disorders (4th Edition) World health organisation: Sydney, NSW.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects a persons thoughts, perceptions and behaviours and therefore their experience of what is real. It can involve experiencing hallucinations or delusions, disorganised thinking with disorganised speech, disorganised movement and reduced emotionality in the face, e.g. eye contact, speech, movements of hands, head and face. Without treatment, schizophrenia can interfere with a person’s ability to be able to deal with everyday situations, such as going to school or work and interacting with people.

Claire Arnold A Negative-Mind 2

People receiving a diagnosis of schizophrenia are likely to experience emotional detachment (like not being interested) and social withdrawal with their mood being affected. In some situations, this means their behaviour may be inappropriate, shallow or frivolous for the situation. The person may also have difficulty following through with a course of action (Treatment Protocol Project, 2004).

There are a lot of myths around schizophrenia and people living with this illness can really struggle with the misperceptions people have. A lot of people think you will be a violent person or have a ‘split personality’. Stigma around mental illness is a big issue. Contrary to popular belief, people with schizophrenia do not have a ‘split personality’. Only a very small number of people with schizophrenia become violent.

Schizophrenia lasts for at least six months and requires a thorough assessment and diagnosis. Symptoms vary from person to person. Due to non-specific symptoms in the initial phase, early referral is essential to arrive at an accurate diagnosis which will produce a potentially better outcome for the longer term (Treatment Protocol Project, 2004). Early detection followed by intensive and assertive intervention, results in improved outcomes.

Your GP may refer you to see a psychiatrist to confirm a diagnosis of schizophrenia. It is important to keep stress to a minimum if you have schizophrenia. They may recommend you seek additional care through a MHP who will be able to help you with strategies for stress and anxiety. You might like to try one of the APPs on our website but seek guidance from your MHP if you are unsure.

Reference: Treatment Protocol Project (2004). Management of Mental Disorders (4th Edition) World Health Organisation: Sydney NSW.

For some really good information about schizophrenia go to:
https://www.sane.org/mental-health-and-illness/facts-and-guides/schizophrenia

You can go to this link to find out what it is like to have schizophrenia:
https://www.sane.org/people-like-us/1996-hannah

Remember though, ALWAYS see a health professional like your doctor (GP) to confirm a diagnosis. If you have any of the symptoms listed above, it is really important to seek help early.