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HealthInfo Canterbury

Do I have a psychotic disorder?

psychotic disorderIn some people psychotic events are extremely disruptive and can make them behave quite strangely. In other people the delusions or hallucinations are quite manageable, and don't cause any major distress or affect them badly.

When doctors try to find out what is happening to someone with psychosis, they will look at whether it is caused by:

When someone first shows signs of psychosis it can be very hard to tell what their symptoms mean. They may simply start to withdraw, care less about the people in their lives, struggle to do their job as well as before, or start to take less care with their appearance.

If this happens in teenagers it can be very hard to tell if they are developing a psychotic disorder or simply struggling with being a teenager.

People who are developing psychosis may not understand that what they think and believe is not real. They may share their ideas, thoughts and unusual experiences with others, or they might keep them to themselves. The change may happen gradually, or it may suddenly show in bizarre ways. Each person's experience is different.

Tests and diagnosis

When a person starts to have psychotic symptoms their GP is likely to send them to see a psychiatrist. If they are very unwell they may need to be admitted into hospital. Many people will agree that this is the best way to get care and will go to hospital willingly. However, some people will need to be admitted to hospital against their will, using the Mental Health Act.

There are no tests to show what is causing the psychosis. A psychiatrist will diagnose someone with psychosis after thoroughly assessing them and talking with their family and friends.

In young people, it can be very hard to work out what is causing the psychosis, and it may take a long time of watching to work out what is the most likely cause.

On the next page: Living with a psychotic disorder

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by consultant psychiatrist, Canterbury DHB. April 2016.

Sources

Page reference: 243397

Review key: HIPSY-124133