Focus on psychosis

DIYMH

Focus on psychosis Summer 2016

The stigma associated with psychosis means that the many people who are affected by psychosis can find it difficult to talk about. This summer we want to help change that.

We want more people to learn about psychosis and to be aware of the possible early signs. The earlier someone gets help, the less severe the long-term impact on their life is likely to be. The more informed we are, the better we can all look out for one another, spot the signs and get help sooner.

There are lots of things that we can all do to look after our mental health and many of our suggestions can also be helpful in recovery from psychosis, staying healthy and reducing risk of further episodes.

Find out what happened at the brilliant, stigma-busting Reality Check Festival in July 2016, organised by AWP's early intervention teams to share some positivity about mental health in a festival atmosphere.

Need more inspiration for ways to look after your own mental wellbeing? Getting outdoors and getting active is a great place to start, so why not try geocaching. It's basically a huge treasure hunt with geocachers hunting for hidden containers using specific GPS co-ordinates and occasional extra clues.

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Our DIYMH caches are dotted around the Trust area encouraging people to look after their mental health by getting active.

Signs in others

The specific signs that someone is developing psychosis can be different for each person. However there are some common early signs that it is important to be aware of as they are indicators that the person needs help with their mental health even if they do not develop psychosis. They include:

  • Increasing difficulty concentrating, focusing and making sense of information

  • Becoming quiet and withdrawn from family and friends

  • Decreasing motivation

  • Becoming depressed or anxious

  • Spending increasing amounts of time alone

  • Difficulty functioning at school, college or work

  • Increasing absences from school, college or work and other activities

  • Becoming suspicious or paranoid

  • Disorganised, erratic speech, unusual speech patterns, speaking very fast or slow, not making sense

  • Changed sleep patterns - sleeping too little or too much

  • Neglecting personal hygiene and appearance

Of course any of these changes could be a temporary reaction to stressful events such as difficulties at school / college / work, relationship break-ups, or the process of changing roles. For some people recreational drug and /or alcohol use may trigger these difficulties.

If you notice these signs in someone you know, please don't ignore them. Ask the person if anything is wrong, tell them what you have noticed and encourage them to talk to their GP and offer to go with them. If they don't want to talk about it but you continue to notice signs, seek advice from your local early intervention in psychosis service. If their symptoms are severe please call their GP or GP out of hours service, take them to the nearest A&E or call 999 for an ambulance.

Signs in yourself

There are other signs that it is hard to spot in other people but it is important to recognise if you experience them yourself:

  • Sounds seeming louder, lights seeming brighter, seeing things out of the corner of your eye that, when you check, are not there

  • A sense of disconnection from reality and the world around you

  • Increasingly clear and frequent experiences of déjà vu and unreality

  • An increasingly persistent sense of unease

  • Strange thoughts, for example wondering if people can read your mind, wondering if those around you are real, or wondering if a dream actually happened

  • Finding personal meanings or connections in things that you would previously have considered irrelevant or unimportant.

If you become aware that you are experiencing these things, or you are worried that you may be having unusual thoughts or sensory experiences, or any of the other early signs, please don't ignore them - talk to your GP as soon as possible. It can also be extremely helpful to confide in a trusted friend or family member who can support you, visit your GP with you and get help on your behalf if they notice your symptoms getting worse.

It is a good idea to get these checked out so you know what is happening. This means that if a psychotic episode is developing, any treatment needed can be started sooner rather than later. You may feel uncomfortable about needing help but remember it could happen to any of us.

Treatments and interventions

The sooner a person gets help, the better their long-term outcome is likely to be. If you experience psychosis or it is suspected that you may be developing psychosis, you are likely to receive a combination of different treatments to reduce symptoms, reduce risk of further episodes or psychosis, and to help your recovery and return to your normal day-to-day life as quickly as possible. Services for first episode psychosis are provided by specialist teams called early intervention for psychosis teams.

Treatments might include:

  • Psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is a one-to-one talking therapy, or art psychotherapy which can be done one-to-one or in group sessions.

  • Family interventions, where services help the family to copy with and understand the diagnosis and symptoms. This has been shown to help recovery and reduce relapse.

  • Support, if needed, with housing, finances, education or work.

  • Medications can also be used to reduce distressing symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions

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