Psychosis refers to a mental illness where an individual experiences a distortion or a loss of contact with reality. Hallucinations, delusions and disorganization are the most common symptoms.
Although psychosis can happen at any age, for most people, it first develops in adolescence and young adulthood.
Early Psychosis describes the early phases of psychosis. It extends from the first signs of difficulty through the appearance of psychotic symptoms, diagnosis, as well as into the first years of treatment.
The development of psychosis can be divided into phases.
1. At risk, pre-psychotic phase: the individual has relatively minor or infrequent psychotic-like experiences. Often this phase includes significant levels of anxiety and/or depression. The individual may find it difficult to keep up with the social, educational and occupational development in their life.
2. Full psychosis is characterized by psychotic experiences that are intense and frequent enough to meet the criteria established by the psychiatric community for a full psychotic disorder. Psychotic experiences of this intensity and duration are highly disruptive to the person’s life and those around them.
The duration of the phases can be different for everyone ranging from days or weeks to several years. A number of studies indicate that early detection and optimal treatment can lead to better outcomes.
However, even after remission, there is a high potential for relapse so continued treatment is very important.
Diagnosis of psychosis may take several months to confirm. The assessment process may involve physical examination as well as laboratory tests and imaging studies of the brain.
The difference between psychosis and schizophrenia
Psychosis is a general term used to describe psychotic symptoms. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder in which psychosis occurs.
Several different brain disorders can lead to psychotic symptoms, including lesions in the brain resulting from head traumas, strokes, tumors, infections or the use of illegal drugs. Additionally, psychotic symptoms can develop when a serious depression goes untreated for a long time. In other words, not all psychosis is schizophrenia.