The word psychosis is used to describe conditions which affect the mind, where there is some loss of contact with reality. Psychosis varies greatly and the term covers a number of related illnesses.
When someone becomes ill in this way and loses contact with reality it is called a psychotic episode. People who have experienced this often call it spinning out or going off the planet.
With time and the right treatment, most people make a full recovery from the experience. Many may never have another episode. A minority experience psychotic symptoms on a daily basis.
Psychosis is most likely to occur in young adults and is quite common. Around 3 out of every 100 people will experience a psychotic episode making psychosis more common than diabetes.
Psychosis can happen to anyone. Like any other illness it can be treated.
A number of theories have been suggested as to what causes psychosis, but there is still much research to be done. It may be a combination of factors.
It is commonly believed that a psychotic episode occurs due to a disturbance in how the brain normally functions. Our brain works by sending chemical messages from one part to another. When someone develops psychosis this may be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, perhaps sending too much or too little chemical messages. Medication for psychosis works by trying to compensate for this chemical imbalance.
These may include genetic vulnerability suggesting that in some instances it may be inherited, or physical factors such as impairment of the nervous system during very early development.
Stress, drug abuse or social change
Symptoms of psychosis often emerge in response to these. These are not causes of psychosis but it does seem that if you have a vulnerability then you may experience a psychotic episode.
At this stage we cannot predict who will or who will not develop a psychosis. It has been suggested that if you have a vulnerability then to reduce stress in your life may assist you from having an episode.
Symptoms vary a lot from person to person, however, there are a number of quite common categories of symptoms.-some of these you will have experienced, others you may not have.