Psychosis happens when a person loses touch with reality. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of this mental health syndrome.
Psychosis is not a specific illness, rather it is a syndrome. The central characteristic of psychosis is a loss of reality testing, resulting in some degree of impairment of judgement. The psychotic state is evident by the presence of disturbance of perception, such as hallucinations or disturbance of thinking, such as disordered thinking and delusions.
Even before the onset of the florid symptom characteristics of psychosis, a person may show some disturbances during the pre-psychotic or prodromal phase. Some of these symptoms include:
Different people will probably interpret these disturbances differently. Some may see them as symptoms of stress, especially if the changes are associated with some stressful life events. Others may see them as part of the person’s personality. Cultural influences may also play a part in how the symptoms of psychosis might be interpreted. Psychotic symptoms are often attributed to supernatural causes rather than biological causes.
The personal understanding of the disturbances will determine the type of help-seeking behaviour. Even for those who suspect that it may be a mental condition, the stigma of seeking psychiatric help may deter them from consulting a psychiatrist. It is not surprising that there is often a long delay, sometimes even a few years, before the person gets professional help for their mental health issues.
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General practitioners and counsellors may be the first contact point for the person or his family to raise concerns about the person’s change in behaviour and functioning. It is important to have a high index of suspicion in order to pick up cases of possible psychosis and refer them early for further evaluation and treatment. This is especially so if the person exhibiting prodromal symptoms has these associated risk factors:
One of the components of the programme is to provide psychiatric assessments for individuals who have symptoms of psychosis or possible psychosis. The initial assessment is done by a psychiatrist, together with a case manager, who may be a psychologist, a medical social worker or a nurse.
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If the individual is accepted into the programme, the case manager and psychiatrist will continue to take care of the patient. Besides medication, counselling, psychoeducation, psychotherapy, patient support groups and family support/psychoeducation are integral parts of our treatment.
Currently, we run our Early Psychosis Screening Clinics at the following locations:
To learn more about mental health, check out these videos by the Institute of Mental Health.
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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