What is Psychosis and how can treatment at The Wave help?
Psychosis is a word that describes a collection of symptoms and experiences. It is used to describe conditions which affect the mind and where it is evident that there has been some loss of contact with reality. Professionals will sometimes call this a Psychotic Episode.
During a psychotic episode, it may be difficult to understand what is real and what is not. It can also be difficult to explain this to others. It can be a scary and confusing experience. Psychosis can affect both thoughts and perceptions, ability to communicate and understand. It can cause speech to become difficult to follow or sometimes both the subject and the content will not make sense to those listening. This may be accompanied by strange or unusual behaviours that seem out of character and inappropriate for the situation. During a psychotic episode there may also be difficulty sleeping, eating and functioning normally. Psychosis can be accompanied by depression, agitation, pacing, anxiety, insomnia, social withdrawal, violence or aggression, inability to concentrate and lack of motivation/pleasure. Treatment following psychotic episodes can take a long time. It is not unusual to be in treatment stages from acute to maintenance over a 6-12-month period.
Early treatment is important. Left untreated psychosis can have negative effects and consequences in every area of life. The longer the psychosis remains untreated the more likely it is to impact family relationships, friendships, work and school and cause isolation, fear and loneliness. Risk of additional problems; including addiction, substance use disorder, overdose, self-harm and suicidal thoughts increase in episodes left untreated. There may also be legal problems or employment disruption.
Coordinated Specialist Care (CDC) is available at The Wave. A treatment program designed for young people experiencing their first episode of psychosis. CDC provides a collective of professionals to achieve an individual treatment plan, in partnership with the young person and family. We consider work, education, medication management, education on psychosis management and build an ongoing preventative care plan.
Treatment can include Anti-psychotic Medications, which reduce psychotic symptoms. They can be taken orally, daily or in some instances can be given by a long-lasting injection. Medication works alongside intensive psychotherapy, psycho-education and activities which promote group and shared experiences. Psychosis can be a lonely space to be and at The Wave we encourage connection with both the treatment team and peers to promote wellness.
What causes psychosis?
Psychosis can appear as a result of stress, mental health condition, illness or substance use. There are some mental health conditions in which psychosis can be present. These include Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Depression and Brain injury/tumour. There are no definite answers on the cause of psychotic episodes and they can be very different for every person who experiences symptoms. Primary Psychosis is more common in those with a family history of psychotic disorders, schizophrenia or other serious mental health illnesses.
Drug Induced Psychosis
Psychosis can be triggered by substance use. Many recreational and street drugs can induce psychotic symptoms that mimic those, faint in other serious psychiatric disorders. In fact, in up to 25% of new presentations of psychosis in young people has been related to recent drug use. Cannabis induced psychosis (CIP) is increasing worldwide. Cannabis is the most readily available and widely used substance in young people and therefore it should come as little surprise that adverse effects, including psychosis have been noted. During admission we will talk to you about your recent drug use and the onset of your symptoms after your last use. In early treatment it can be difficult to differentiate between drug induced psychosis and primary psychosis. Our medical team and psychiatrists will be available to monitor symptoms as treatment progresses. Abstinence from substances may prevent reoccurrence of the symptoms of psychosis.
Drug induced psychosis is often associated with suicidal thoughts, dangerous and often violent behaviour, crime, self-harm, hospital visits and legal consequences.
Cannabis, Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Amphetamines, Alcohol, LSD, PCP, Ecstasy and Ketamine can all induce psychotic episodes.
Other signs of psychosis Include:
Hallucinations - Seeing, hearing and sometimes tasting, smelling and feeling things which are not present. Hearing voices, seeing things (which are not there), feeling bugs crawling on the skin (when there are none), smelling unusual smells (which others cannot smell)
Delusions - Believing that something is happening or taking place which cannot be confirmed by others. Believing that they have special powers, a special talent or that are famous. Believing that a well-known person is in love with them and pursuing them, believing that a partner or loved one is cheating (despite there being no evidence) coupled with extreme jealousy, believing that someone is watching you with an intent to cause harm, believing that there is a serious health problem despite a lack of medical evidence.
Disorganised speech or behaviour - Finding it difficult to communicate. Loosing track of conversations. Having little appropriate content, flatness of speech. Finding it difficult to follow conversations. Finding it difficult to follow conversational patterns and changing subject frequently. Inappropriate content and unusual subject matter.
The Wave Psychosis Team - dedicated to Early Intervention in Psychosis Management.
Research indicates that the earlier treatment is commenced the more favourable the outcome. Whilst this holds true for all mental health conditions, it is essential in the treatment of psychosis. Young People who commence treatment as soon as possible following the onset of symptoms have a significant improvement in functioning, quality of life and overall reduction in symptoms.
The Wave is committed to delivery Psychosis treatment through active early interventions. We have the ability to facilitate emergency admissions to commence treatment at the earliest opportunity. Our partner facility is equipped to provide care for the most complex situations, with a secure and medium secure space for enhanced care. Our Team of Psychiatrists with a special interest in Psychosis and Serious Mental Illness will be on hand to facilitate care and transfer if necessary. Our families often describe feeling supported in knowing that a higher level of care is available for those experiencing psychotic episodes. We facilitate a transfer and step-down care to The Wave main houses as soon as it is medically and clinically appropriate. Our Psychiatrists are on hand to assist in the transfer from overseas and consult with existing professionals. We are able to arrange global transfer and accompanied admissions for families in crisis.
The Wave supports you
An episode of psychosis may last for several weeks or in some cases several months. It is possible to have more than one episode of psychosis.
Psychosis can be related to Cannabis use. Whilst cannabis is not the only drug that can induce the symptoms of psychosis; it is the most common substance seen in first episodes of psychosis.
Psychosis can be treated through a combination of medication, including Antipsychotic medications and psychotherapy; combined with psycho-education and coping skills.
It is essential to take medication for psychosis as prescribed. Medication management can be a challenge for young people with serious mental health illness and they may need encouragement and support with medication management. Inpatient or residential treatment is often recommended for young people who have difficulty managing medications or who combine medication with recreational or street drugs.
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