Does “Stress-Induced Psychosis” Exist?
Many of us are all too familiar with the feelings of intense stress that can be brought on by the many challenging demands of life. We may worry that all this stress will negatively affect our health, as the harmful possible effects of stress are commonly discussed. From weight gain to depression, chronic stress can bring about a whole host of problems down the line, and this can lead some to wonder how serious some of the possible effects of stress can truly be. For example, can stress actually lead to psychosis and does stress-induced psychosis exist?
What Is Psychosis?
Before we start to explore questions of how it develops, we need to know what psychosis is. The National Institute of Mental Health defines psychosis as commonly “used to describe conditions that affect the mind, where there has been some loss of contact with reality.” An individual who is experiencing psychosis may experience delusions and have an overall disconnection with reality.
Additionally, psychosis is not an illness on its own, but may be a symptom of some disorders or another cause. A few signs and symptoms of psychosis include:
- Confusing thoughts
- Social withdrawal
- Decrease in self-awareness
- Other imagined disturbances
- High levels of stress, fear, and confusion
What Causes Psychosis
Psychosis may have several causes, and experts are still investigating.
Schizophrenia, bipolar disease, alcohol or drug abuse, sleep deprivation, some prescription drugs, and traumatic events might trigger it.
Genetics and physical sickness or injury (such traumatic brain traumas, brain tumors, strokes, and Alzheimer’s) may also contribute.
This leads us to our initial question: is there such a thing as stress-induced psychosis? Put simply, yes. As one research study published in Psychological Medicine asserts, “exposure to stressful life events increases the risk of developing a psychotic disorder.”
As mentioned, psychosis risk factors include mental diseases, physical health concerns, drug use, and more.
With so many risk factors, it can be hard to tell which one precipitated the psychotic episode, which played a minor part, or if they all did.
Psychosis sufferers may have multiple risk factors. Sometimes, it may be a combination of these risk factors that are present in someone who is experiencing psychosis.So, stress alone may not cause psychosis, but high stress can increase the risk.
Brief psychotic condition, caused by acute stress or trauma, is especially vital to recognize. It is more common in 20s, 30s, and 40s.
Its causes, brief duration, and rarity make it unique. The occurrence of one of these episodes may be singular and with brief psychotic disorder, the psychotic symptoms go away on their own in less than a month. However, you should still proceed with caution and more closely monitor your mental health after a brief psychotic state.
Psychosis comes in many variations of severity, and some instances can be more subtle.Doctors can employ psychiatric evaluations to better diagnose stress-induced psychosis and measure its impact. If you, or someone you know, is exhibiting the symptoms discussed earlier, you should contact a medical professional.
Additional physicals or examinations may help diagnose psychosis.
High stress before and during a psychotic episode can indicate stress-induced psychosis.
Reducing Your Risk
Stress is so commonly experienced, and it can be scary that in some cases, extreme stress could cause or contribute to psychosis. Reducing your stress can be essential for not only reducing the risk of stress-induced psychosis but also just staying healthy in general.
Some options for reducing your stress include :
- Exercise: Regular exercise improves mood, stress, and physical health.
- Meditation: Meditation can be excellent for dealing with stress and difficult situations. Many people turn to meditation for help with improving mental health as well as overall wellness and happiness.A balanced diet: Together with exercise, eating healthy can help your mind and body function well.
Sleep: Adequate, high-quality sleep reduces stress.
If you’re overburdened by stress, seek professional treatment before it progresses to psychosis.
For someone with stress-induced psychosis, psychotherapy, medication, and supervision may all be needed to help someone work through their psychotic episodes. For stress-induced psychosis specifically, talking to a therapist can help you to address the causes of stress in your life, cultivate effective coping strategies, and find ways to reduce stress moving forward.
Help Is Available Through Online Therapy
Finding and visiting a therapist may seem unattainable if you’re stressed.
In some circumstances, online therapy may be easier and more convenient because you can match with and chat to a therapist from anywhere with an internet connection.
Plus, research has shown that online therapy can be effective for people with psychosis. One study revealed that a web-based cognitive-behavioral therapy program for auditory hallucinations in psychosis “showed statistically significant reductions from baseline to post-treatment in several measures of auditory hallucinations.”
An individual who is experiencing psychosis may experience delusions and have an overall disconnection with reality. There can be many factors that may contribute to the development of psychosis, including certain mental or physical illnesses, misuse of alcohol or drugs, sleep deprivation, and in some cases, a stressful or traumatic event.