Psychosis: symptoms, causes and treatment


It is characterized by disturbances of thought, impaired examination of reality (the psychotic does not accept the reality that surrounds him and creates another in his mind) and serious difficulties with the feelings towards the others.

The main psychotic disorders are:


Schizophrenia refers to a psychotic illness in which the person is unable to distinguish the real from what is only imagined.

Delusional disorder

One or more delusions that last at least a month.

Usually no visual or auditory hallucinations appear in the disorder, but tactile or olfactory hallucinations may appear if they relate to the subject of the delusion.

Schizophreniform disorder

Has the same symptoms as schizophrenia, except symptoms last less than six months.

Schizoaffective disorder

This diagnosis is made in cases where the patient has consecutively and simultaneously symptoms of altered mood (eg depressive or manic crisis) and symptoms of psychosis.

Brief psychotic disorder

Psychotic disorder that lasts more than a day, but fades within 1 month.

Shared Psychotic Disorder

A psychotic disorder is said to be “shared” when it occurs in a person who is affected by another who has a similar delusion.

Psychosis, psychotic symptoms

Psychotic disorders are predominately characterized by symptoms such as:

  • delusions
  • hallucinations
  • mood swings
  • disorganized or catatonic language and behavior.

Psychotic symptoms are attributable to thought form disorders (altered thought flow and incoherence), thought content disorders (delusions), and sensory perception disorders (auditory, visual, olfactory, tactile and kinesthetic).

Mental functions become confused or do not follow a logical sequence. The psychotic speaks in unclear or meaningless sentences and has difficulty concentrating, following a conversation or remembering things.

Causes of psychosis

Psychoses usually begin in adolescence and early adulthood.

The causes are not yet clearly identified, but it is widely accepted that biological, genetic, psychological and environmental factors are involved.

It is likely that organic alterations create in some people a “vulnerability” to developing psychotic disorders, which can then reveal themselves in particular stress conditions.

Treatment of psychosis: how is it treated?

The treatment of psychosis aims to restore the proper biochemical functioning of the central nervous system.

The treatment is above all pharmacological and psychological and above all re-educational; it is a set of interventions that make up the so-called tailor-made therapeutic rehabilitation project.

This set of interventions is aimed at the patient, his family and his life context and aims not only to control the symptoms but above all to achieve the ability to play a social role: work, home, family, leisure, etc.

These interventions are administered by both psychiatrists and psychologists as well as professional educators or rehabilitation technicians, nurses and social workers.

Thus, the improvement and recovery rates vary between 50 and 80%.

Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial to avoid chronicity and poor prognosis.

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