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Psychosis is a mental state denoting a severe impairment of thought and perception. Individuals experiencing a psychotic episode may have hallucinations, delusional beliefs, personality changes, and disorganized thinking. Such episodes are often accompanied by lack of insight into the strangeness of such behavior, having difficulty in dealing with other people and in carrying out day-to-day activities. "Loss of contact with reality" is often used to describe psychotic episode.



Underlying mental illness such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia may be one of the possible causes of psychosis. It may also be the result of severe mental stress and high doses or chronic use of drugs like amphetamines, LSD, PCP, cocaine or scopolamine. It is rare however that incidence of psychosis may result from a single dose of any drug. Psychotic episodes may also be triggered by sudden withdrawal from CNS depressant drugs, like alcohol and benzodiazepines. As can be seen from the various illnesses and conditions in which psychosis has been reported to arise (including, for instance, AIDS, leprosy, malaria and even mumps), psychotic episodes can not be associated with any single cause.


Mood or behavior of an individual can significantly affect a psychotic episode. For instance, persecutory or self-blaming delusions or hallucinations are often experienced by people with psychotic episode in the context of depression. On the other hand, people having a psychotic episode in the context of mania may develop grandiose delusions or may experience deep religious importance.


Hallucinations mean sensory perception in the absence of external stimuli. They may occur in any of the five sensory organs and may take any form, including simple sensations (like lights, colors, tastes, smells) to more complex experiences such as seeing and interacting with animals and people, hearing voices and multifarious tactile sensations. Hallucinations are often differentiated with illusions, the latter being defined as the misperception of external stimuli.


Delusional or paranoid beliefs are often involved in psychosis. According to Karl Jaspers, there are two classifications of psychotic delusions: a) primary psychotic delusions, and b) secondary psychotic delusions. Primary delusions may occur out-of-the-blue and may not be comprehend by normal mental processes. On the other side, secondary psychotic delusions may have been influenced by the person's background or present situation (i.e. ethnic or sexual discrimination, religious, or superstitious belief).


Formal thought disorder is an underlying disturbance to conscious thought. It is categorized largely by its effects on speech and writing. Affected individual may manifest pressure of speech (speaking relentlessly and quickly), derailment or flight of ideas (switching topic mid-sentence), thought blocking, and rhyming or punning.


Lack of insight into the unusual or peculiar nature of the person's experience or behavior is one of the essential yet puzzling features of psychosis. Sufferers may seem completely oblivious that their hallucinations and impossible delusions are in any way unrealistic. However, lack of insight may differ between individuals and may vary for the duration of the psychotic episode.


The treatment of psychosis would depend on what associated diagnosis is seemed to be present (such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder). However, antipsychotic medication is usually the first line treatment for psychotic symptoms, and in other cases, confinement or hospitalization. In managing psychotic symptoms, evidences point that cognitive behavior therapy and family therapy can be useful. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), also known as shock treatment, is sometimes utilized to relieve the underlying symptoms of psychosis such as depression or schizophrenia when other treatments prove ineffective.

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