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Alternative namesPsychosis is a loss of contact with reality, typically including delusions (false ideas about what is taking place or who one is) and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things which aren't there).
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Psychosis is a severe mental condition characterized by a loss of contact with reality. There are numerous potential causes:
Signs and testsPsychological evaluation and testing helps to pinpoint the exact diagnosis related to the psychosis.
Laboratory or radiological testing is usually not helpful. However, sometimes such tests can help to pinpoint the exact diagnosis. This may include:
Treatment varies depending on the cause of the psychosis. Care in a hospital is often needed to ensure safety of the patient. Drugs that diminish auditory hallucinations and delusions and stabilize thinking and behavior (antipsychotic drugs) are helpful. Group or individual therapy can also be useful.
The expectations for the outcome vary with the specific disorder. Many of the symptoms can be controlled with long-term treatment.
ComplicationsPsychosis prevents a person from functioning normally. During psychotic states, there is an inability to care for self, and the possibility of self-harm or harm to others if the condition is left untreated.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider or mental health professional if a member of your family exhibits behavior that shows the person has lost contact with reality. Alternatively, take the person to the nearest emergency room for evaluation.
PreventionPrevention depends on the cause. For example, preventing alcohol abuse avoids alcohol induced psychosis.
Update Date: 6/3/2002Angela Smyth, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT