Moving Forward After First-Episode Psychosis

Reviewed by Whitney White, MS CMHC, NCC., LPC

Published 12/28/2020

Psychosis is a serious mental condition that needs to be addressed right away after symptoms are noticed. This is especially true after the first episode of psychosis. Here is a look at what psychosis is, such as signs and symptoms, including those of first-episode psychosis, and how it should be treated. These things can help you stay aware of how to move forward after first-episode psychosis.

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What Is Psychosis?

Psychosis occurs when a person experiences a disconnect from reality. They may start to believe things that are not true, and they might also see or hear things that are not real. A person with psychosis will have little to no control over their thoughts and actions. It is thought that psychosis may be a symptom of other conditions and not an illness on its own. In some cases, it is related to conditions such as schizophrenia.

What Is First-Episode Psychosis?

When someone experiences their first episode of psychosis, this is referred to as first-episode psychosis or first break psychosis. In other words, when a person starts showing signs related to psychosis, this is considered first-episode psychosis.

What Is Early Psychosis?

Early psychosis is essentially the same thing as first-episode psychosis. It is important to note the signs of psychosis when they are experienced the first time. There is evidence to suggest that many people experience symptoms related to psychosis during their teen years and may not fully understand what is happening to them. Anyone that experiences symptoms of psychosis should seek treatment whenever they need to.

Warning Signs of Psychosis

Psychosis is not a condition that appears suddenly. There are generally signs that are present before a person experiences psychosis for the first time. Here is a look at some of the warning signs.

  • Feeling uncomfortable around others
  • Not taking care of health or hygiene
  • Only spending time by themselves
  • Unable to complete tasks or schoolwork
  • Having no emotions

These signs can give you an indication that a person may start to experience psychosis. Keep in mind that it is important to get treatment for psychosis as soon as possible.

Symptoms of First-Episode Psychosis

Here are symptoms related to first-episode psychosis that you should be aware of.

  • Being unable to concentrate
  • Problems processing thoughts
  • Experiencing delusions
  • Experiencing hallucinations

Delusions and hallucinations are big factors when it comes to psychosis.

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Delusions

A delusion is when a person believes things that are not true. They may refuse to believe something even if they are presented with proof. Some people that experience delusions may think they have been sent to Earth to carry out a special task, or they may feel that someone wants to harm them.

Hallucinations

A hallucination involves hearing or seeing things that are not real. People with psychosis may start to hear things or see things that aren’t present. You can experience hallucinations associated with any sense but seeing and hearing things are the most common concerning

Causes of Psychosis

There are multiple causes that are thought to contribute to psychosis.

  • Family History. Like many other conditions, if someone in your family experiences psychosis, there is a better chance that you will.
  • Prescriptions. Some prescriptions are able to cause psychosis. This is also true for illicit drugs. If you are experiencing side effects from a medicine, you should consult with your doctor. If you are addicted to drugs, you should do everything you can to stop taking them, which may lessen the effects of psychosis.
  • Trauma. If a person is subject to trauma or abuse at a young age, it may affect them in a number of different ways, including experiencing psychosis later in life.
  • Other Conditions. Other mental health conditions are able to cause psychosis, as well.

Treatments for Psychosis

Whether you are experiencing first-episode psychosis or have been experiencing psychosis for a longer amount of time, the treatment options are similar. Again, it is important to get help as soon as possible for psychosis.

First-episode psychosis treatment usually consists of a treatment plan that offers multiple aspects. You can think of it as a first episode psychosis program, but these treatments can also be useful regardless of the amount of time that someone has experienced psychosis.

Medicines

There are medicines that may be prescribed to a person that experiences symptoms related to psychosis. A doctor will pay attention to the symptoms that are being expressed and how serious they are, so they can determine what medicines will be beneficial.

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Psychotherapy

Another important aspect of the treatment process is psychotherapy. There are multiple approaches that can be used when it comes to therapy. These approaches may be able to help you learn how to think differently and act differently, so psychosis will not have as much of an impact on your life.

Other Approaches

There are additional approaches that are sometimes used when it comes to treating psychosis. These are discussed in Continuum. They include special training classes, as well as social classes, which may involve not only the person experiencing psychosis but also their family. A complete treatment plan will likely include getting treatment for any other condition that is being experienced as well.

Moving Forward After First-Episode Psychosis

When it comes to moving on once you have experienced first-episode psychosis, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.

Get Help Quickly

Whenever you experience your first psychotic episode or psychosis episode, it is important to get professional help as soon as possible. If you get the mental health support that you need quickly, it will likely have a large impact on if your symptoms will lessen or not. This is discussed in BMJ. Seek out treatment as soon as you can, and it may be able to prevent first break schizophrenia or other conditions.  

Stay Engaged

You should keep up with your treatment plan and make sure that you have proper communication with your therapist. Be sure to do the things that they ask you to do, but when you don’t agree with something or if there is another problem, talk to them about it. You should feel comfortable with your treatment plan, so you will be able to keep up with it.

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Moreover, if you experience side effects while taking medicines, talk to your doctor about these things as well. You may need to try a few medicines before you find the one that works the best for your needs.

Take Care of Yourself

Something else that you should pay attention to is your health and your hygiene. Be sure to get enough sleep each night. You also need to do what you can to eat right and intake enough food. It’s a good idea to establish a routine, which can allow you to get everything done that you need to. You can choose one day a week that you want to wash clothes, a time to take a shower, and other pertinent things. This is something that you talk about with your psychiatrist, who may have suggestions and tips that you can follow to lend a hand with this.

Try Not to Get Overwhelmed

As you go through your treatment plan, it is important to take it one day at a time. There may be days where you experience delusions and hallucinations, even though you are being treated. There’s no reason to give up or stop treatment since trying days are not cause for concern during the process. If you are a loved one of someone who is experiencing psychosis, this is important to keep in mind as well. Be as supportive as possible. It may take time for a treatment program to work well, so continue to be patient, and you will likely see a change. Many people see a lessening of their symptoms with medicines and therapy.

Outlook

Getting treatment for psychosis at the first sign may be your best chance at feeling more like yourself again. For some, their symptoms will go away, and for others, their symptoms may become less severe. If you do not get treatment, there is a greater chance that you will experience more psychotic episodes.

There is no cure for psychosis, but this doesn’t mean that it will always affect you. However, this is another good reason to get treatment for this ailment. You should also get treatment for any additional condition that you are experiencing, as this may be contributing to your psychosis.

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Be sure to talk to your doctor during the whole treatment process and keep an open dialogue, so you can make decisions that you feel comfortable with regarding your treatment. Tell your doctor if you think your medicines or something else isn’t working correctly. They will be able to discuss these things with you. They will also be able to tweak things as needed. Hang in there and stick with a treatment plan that works well for you. There is hope out there, and treatment can work to improve psychosis symptoms.