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Understanding Psychosis
July 16th 2015 @ 5pm AEST
People with psychosis have problems in the way they interpret the real world. This means that psychosis may cause someone to misinterpret or confuse what is going on. There are a number of things you can do help cope and find out how psychosis can be treated.
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eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 12:19 pm
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:09 pm
Kristal Eheadspace: Hi everyone and welcome to tonight’s live info session where we are focussing on psychosis. My name’s Kristal and I’ll be helping to facilitate the session today. Psychotic episodes are more common in young people than you may think. Around two in one hundred young people will experience a psychotic episode. That might sound pretty scary, but it’s important to know that psychosis is treatable and most people make a full recovery. Hopefully in this session we can talk more about what psychosis is, the different types of psychosis and what kind of help there is available.
Joining me today we have eheadspace mental health clinicians – Madds, Coralie, Liam and Shayne and from hYEPP (the headspace early psychosis program) we have Emma. We also have Sharon from headspace School Support and most importantly we have Rian joining us today. Rian is a member of our youth reference group in Darwin. We’re really keen to hear your questions and comments – so let’s get started!
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:09 pm
Kristal Eheadspace: We've got some questions flowing in, sometimes it can take us a wee while to get our fingers warmed up to type out replies. So we'll get them posted as soon as we can!
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:09 pm
Comment From Jane
I am interested in how I support a young person who is hearing voices- how much do I interact with those voices as an outsider?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:09 pm
Madds eheadspace: Thanks for your question Jane, it can be difficult to know how much we do explore someone's experience of voices. It can be helpful to ask the person who experiences voices whether the voices are saying distressing or nice things to them. It is also important to ask people if the voices are instructing them to do things that they may or not want to do themselves. For eg, some people can experience voices encouraging them to do positive things such as exercise or getting up for school. Other voices may be upsetting and instruct the person to harm themselves. Another things you may be able to ask the person is what helps them to keep the voices under control. Sometimes people also experience voices and may not want to talk about them.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:10 pm
liam eheadspace: Hey Skitzo ,thanks for sharing your own personal experiences of hearing voices , everyone has a different way of coping and dealing with these experiences and view them in different ways ..
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:10 pm
Comment From Skitzo
Ive had psychosis for 27yrs one thing id say is dont talk back to the voices! Their an extension of your own version of vocabulary ans can seem very smart.
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:10 pm
Comment From James
I’ve heard that people with psychosis are usually violent. Should you avoid someone like that if they’re acting strange?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:19 pm
Emma eheadspace: Hi James,
Thanks for your question. People who are experiencing psychosis may see or hear things that are not there, misinterpret stuff and have confusing thoughts. It doesn't mean that they are usually violent, just that they may feel threatened or in distress due to these experiences. This can lead people to trying to protect themselves or at times, may lead someone to act aggressively. If you are in any situation where someone is aggressive, regardless of whether or not they have psychosis, your safety and their safety is the most important thing. It is best to give them some space and call someone to help
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:10 pm
Comment From YouthSpace Darwin - Rian
Hi Marty, I have also experimented with drugs, I find that when I experienced hallucinations while under the influence they can be as real as when I experience an psychotic episode although they do tend to fade as the drug wears off. If they don't go away then you should seek help.
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:10 pm
Comment From YouthSpace Darwin - Rian
HI James,
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:10 pm
Comment From K
What’s the difference between hearing voices and the normal thoughts you have in your head? What do the voices sound like?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:10 pm
coralie: Hi K, thats a good question as there is some variation between people on how they experience 'voices' and not always does hearing a voice mean you are psychotic. Often people who have a diagnosed psychotic illness describe how they hear the voice or voices and can recognise them as not their own. They may recognise the voice as from someone they know. The content of the voices may be uncomfortable or feel like it is disrupting you being able to think normally. The technical explanation is
"Hallucinations are sensory perceptions in the absence of an external stimulus. The most common type are auditory hallucinations, where a person may hear voices or other noises when no-one else is present."
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:11 pm
Comment From YouthSpace Darwin - Rian
Hi James, I have experienced psychosis for most of adult life and never have I once been violent. I am more likely to hurt myself during an episode than somebody else. I find that "being violent" is a common stigma of psychosis and it not necessarily as common as is perceived in the media Although people do tend to experience psychosis very differently to the next person who has psychosis
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:11 pm
Comment From PK
Does using ice mean that you might get psychosis?
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:11 pm
Comment From YouthSpace Darwin - Rian
Hi K, I have 3 voices, one female, older man and someone who isn’t as prominent. In their mild version, they can be confused with my own conscious thought although they have distinct voices, in their severe form they are fully formed and outside my head.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:11 pm
Shayne eheadspace: Great question PK ! Using amphetamines like ICE can trigger drug induced psychosis which can be temporary in nature and symptoms may cease shortly after a period of abstinence, however each person reacts differently and symptoms may develop into enduring psychosis. Also some people have a genetic predisposition to developing psychosis, which means they have an increased risk of developing psychosis when using substances. So if you have a family history of psychosis and use Ice, you will have an increased risk of developing psychosis than the general population.
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:11 pm
Comment From YouthSpace Darwin - Rian
K, to add on to my last comment. The voices sound as clear as someone talking to you from across the dinner table.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:12 pm
liam eheadspace: Hi guys, looks like people are taking in the info posted so far , thanks for some great questions!
We at eheadspace sometimes find that people worry that if they have a Psychotic episode , it may mean they have a more enduring mental health issue such as Schizophrenia. This isn't the case at all , as they are quite separate , we all can be vulnerable to Psychotic experiences depending on what is happening in our lives and often the amount of stress we are under .
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:12 pm
Comment From Guest
Is it true that just experiencing symptoms of psychosis doesn't mean that you have an illness?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:12 pm
Madds eheadspace: Hi Guest, that's a really good question. There are definitely situations where people can experience symptoms of psychosis and it does not mean that the person has a mental illness. Sometimes if people are under a lot of stress they can experience problems with their thinking, concentration, memory and also have fluctuations in their mood. Sometimes people can also experience what could be viewed as being 'psychotic symptoms', but what they are experiencing is very normal for other people from the same cultural and religious background.
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:12 pm
Comment From Jane
Is there a way of finding out if you have a genetic predisposition to developing psychosis other than family history? What if your family history is unknown?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:12 pm
Sharon School Support: Hi Jane. That's a challenging one. The science about the genetics of psychosis doesn't give us clear answers yet. It seems like people who have a history of psychosis in their family are more vulnerable. However, neither does having family members who have experienced psychosis predict who, if anyone, will get it. Unfortunately, there isn't a physical test we know of either. Psychotic symptoms occur in about 2% of young people, many of these recover fully, so its' pretty rare. If you're worried it's always worth talking it over with someone.
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:13 pm
Comment From anon
If you have psychosis can you get a job or finish school?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:19 pm
coralie: Hi anon, thats a great question that im sure many young people have similar concerns. Around 2 in 100 young people experience a psychotic illness. Recovery is the norm after an initial psychotic episode and around 25% of affected young people will then never experience a further psychotic episode.
Even if you have some ongoing or intermittend syptoms there is no reason why with assistance you could not finish school and get a good job. Remaining optomistic, accepting support and treatment and taking a lead role in your recovery is really important.
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:13 pm
Comment From YouthSpace Darwin - Rian
Hi Anon,
Participant
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28th Aug, 1:13 pm
Comment From YouthSpace Darwin - Rian
Hi anon, When I first starting experience severe psychosis it was very hard to complete university, I really need to take some time off to get better. I still experience psychosis daily but I have management systems in place and I am fully functional adult who has hobbies, a job, who is studying and is a fantastic relationship. Yes, sometimes it does get hard every once in a while but I everyone is super supportive and i take a couple days to get better and then go one my way again.
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:13 pm
Comment From Jazzy
if I hear voices should I stop using drugs? or can I keep using and not worry?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:13 pm
coralie: Hi Jazzy,
Because the age of onset for most people with a psychosis is in the late adolescent early adulthood years, all types of substance use needs to be assessed and addressed. Substance use amongst people of all ages with mental illness is relatively high:
In young people with an emerging mental illness, the rate of substance use is between 50-90%.
If there is a problem with substance use, the substance use problem needs to be treated as well as the primary psychotic condition.
Substance use can make psychotic symptoms worse, and needs to be confronted as a possible precipitant to relapse, and as a cause for a delay in achieving recovery from the acute episode of psychosis.
Substance use can also 'mask' the symptoms of psychosis, making treatment for the psychotic disorder more difficult by exacerbating cognitive difficulties.
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:14 pm
Comment From Pie
Does Cannabis cause psychosis? Does it make it worse or better?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:14 pm
Emma eheadspace: Hi Pie,
Thanks for asking about cannabis, I reckon a lot of young people wonder about it and the impact that it has on psychotic symptoms. What we know about cannabis is that it can cause psychotic symptoms, like feeling paranoid and seeing things that are not there but this doesn't mean that it will lead to a psychotic illness. It can though in people who have a vulnerability. For that reason, if you experience these symptoms when using cannabis it is best to talk to someone and seek help. You can find your local headspace centre at:
Hope this helps :)
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:14 pm
Comment From YouthSpace Darwin - Rian
Anon, to add to my last comment, to get my symptoms more manageable I had to really work hard on understanding my illness, I had to be willing to change and grow, accompanied by the right treatment/help.
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:14 pm
Comment From Jane
Could you talk us through the treatment options available?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:15 pm
Sharon School Support: HI Jane. Thanks for asking. Getting help is really important, and the sooner someone gets help, the quicker a person's recovery will usually be. The kinds of things which can be helpful are 1) talking with someone who is experienced in helping with psychosis: 2) practising good self-care with eating, rest & exercise; and 3) medication are some of the options. It also helps for a person to get familiar with their symptoms, and what triggers them. Let us know if you want to know more.
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:15 pm
Comment From Luke
How do I know if I need help? and where would I go to get help and to find out if I needed it?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:15 pm
Madds eheadspace: Hi Luke, that is a really important question. Sometimes when people have symptoms of psychosis they are able to recognise that something is wrong themselves. We find that people are usually better at identifying that something is wrong when they are starting to develop symptoms and these could be things like worrying that people are talking about them, confused thinking, trouble sleeping and poor appetite. There are other times when the person who is becoming unwell or is unwell, struggles to identify that they need help. So in these instances having supportive family and friends who know the person well can usually let them know that something is not quite right. Some people find that going to your family doctor initially is a good start in getting help. We have a lot of young people and families and friends who log on for support through eheadspace and who also attend for support at headspace centres, where they can see counsellors and also doctors.
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:15 pm
Comment From Marty
I’ve seen some weird stuff when I’ve taken drugs, does that mean that I’ve been psychotic?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:15 pm
Sharon School Support: HI Marty. Yeah. Important question. Drugs can do weird things to our heads. Some of the experiences people have can be psychotic like. Also, using drugs can make us vulnerable to becoming psychotic. If you are worried it is a good idea to talk over what you are experiencing with someone.
Participant
Participant
28th Aug, 1:15 pm
Comment From Jane
Rian, what do you think universities can do better to assist students who become unwell during their studies?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:16 pm
Kristal Eheadspace: Hey Jane - this is a message from Rian :)
When I was at uni, I spoke to most of my teachers and they were very very understanding. Also most universities have a Disability unit. which gives you extra time on assignments and support for assignments.
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:16 pm
Shayne eheadspace: Noah, if you have some concerns for a friend, there is some great info on our website on how to recognize psychosis and where to get help…you can check it out here https://headspace.org.au/young-people/understanding-psychosis-for-young-people/
Participant
Participant
15th Apr, 6:25 pm
Comment From Noah
how would I know if a friend was psychotic? should I just ask them?
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:18 pm
eheadspace Moderator
Moderator
28th Aug, 1:17 pm
Kristal Eheadspace: Thankyou to everyone for joining us today. I most especially want to thank Rian for her very helpful comments and for sharing parts of her story. We in the office here have really enjoyed having you join us!
I hope you’ve all found the session helpful today. There have been some great questions and comments. If you have more questions, or questions that are a bit more personal, we really encourage you to get in touch with your local GP or you can contact eheadspace on 1800 650 890 or via our website www.eheadspace.org.au Today’s session transcript will be available from tomorrow at this link where the past sessions are also accessible
We also thought these links would be helpful and give you some more information on psychosis
Emma eheadspace
Moderator
15th Apr, 6:26 pm
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eheadspace Moderator
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15th Apr, 6:26 pm
Emma eheadspace
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15th Apr, 6:26 pm
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