Due to misrepresentation in the media and popular culture, psychosis is largely misunderstood. The term “psychosis” refers to a group of conditions that affect the mind wherein the primary symptom is difficulty distinguishing what is real and what is not. Having symptoms of psychosis is not rare; in fact, about 3/100 people will experience an episode of psychosis in their lifetime. Individual experiences of psychosis can vary greatly; for example, some people will have only one psychotic episode (e.g. after taking a substance or after a very stressful life experience), while some people will continue to experience psychosis throughout their lives (e.g., if they have Schizophrenia, a more chronic brain condition).
The actual symptoms of psychosis can affect the way that we think, feel, and behave. Some symptoms distort one’s normal functioning by adding unusual experiences such as hallucinations (hearing, seeing, smelling, feeling, or tasting things that aren’t real), delusions (firmly held false beliefs that are out of keeping with someone’s cultural environment), or disorganized thoughts, speech, or behaviour. Other symptoms involve a loss of normal functioning, such as reduced socialization and motivation, reduced emotional and facial expression, and difficulty generating thoughts. Symptoms of psychosis can also lead to other problems such as substance abuse, cognitive difficulties, or suicidality.
Any experience with psychosis can be frightening, confusing, and isolating. Fortunately, there are excellent treatments available that include both pharmacologic and therapeutic options. At the Clinic on Dupont, several therapists have extensive experience in supporting and treating individuals suffering from psychosis. Therapists can provide support and psychoeducation about the illness as well as teach specific cognitive and behavioural skills that will foster functional and psychological improvement for the suffering individual.
Angela Lachowski is a psychologist currently in supervised practice who has worked at the Clinic on Dupont since 2013. She has extensive training from world-renowned experts in CBT for insomnia, and enjoys providing evidence-based therapeutic techniques for a variety of presenting difficulties.