A psychotic breakdown can be a challenging and distressing experience for both the individual going through it and their loved ones. It is characterized by a severe disconnect from reality, hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking. Also referred to as psychosis or a psychotic episode, it could either be a sign of an underlying mental condition or occur due to a stressful or traumatic event. Hence it requires careful handling and support.
But before you know how to deal with psychotic breakdowns, you should know the common causes to handle the situation in a better way.
Causes of a psychotic breakdown
Dr Kedar Tilwe, Consultant Psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital Mulund, and Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, Maharashtra, tells Health Shots, “Psychosis is a condition in which an individual loses contact with reality. When a person experiences psychotic symptoms, they cannot distinguish between imagination and reality. It is associated with symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, judgment impairment, and confusion and can also cause aggressive behaviour. This aggressive behaviour can sometimes be challenging to control.”
It can often be triggered by a variety of factors, including genetics, environment, and brain chemistry. Some common triggers include:
1. Genetic factors: A family history of mental health disorders, particularly schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, can increase the likelihood of experiencing a psychotic breakdown. Genetic factors play a significant role in determining susceptibility to such conditions.
2. Stress and trauma: High levels of stress, traumatic events, or prolonged exposure to difficult life situations can contribute to the development of a psychotic breakdown. Trauma can disrupt the brain’s normal functioning and exacerbate existing vulnerabilities.
3. Substance abuse: “Substance abuse caused by alcohol and drugs can increase the risk of psychotic breakdown, especially in individuals with existing mental health disorders. It can trigger or worsen symptoms and impair one’s ability to think rationally,” says Dr Tilwe.
4. Sleep deprivation: Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to cognitive impairments and emotional instability, which might contribute to the onset of a psychotic breakdown. Sleep is crucial for maintaining mental health, and disruptions can have serious consequences.
5. Social isolation: Prolonged social isolation or lack of support networks can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and contribute to the development of mental health issues, including psychotic breakdowns.
How to deal with a psychotic breakdown?
To manage any psychotic meltdowns or psychosis, one may need professional help, support from loved ones, and a positive attitude toward recovery. Here are 7 ways to deal with a psychotic breakdown:
1. Seek professional help
If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing a psychotic breakdown, it’s crucial to seek help from a mental health professional. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors can provide an accurate diagnosis and develop a tailored treatment plan.
Dr Tilwe says, “In many cases, medication can help manage the symptoms of a psychotic breakdown. Antipsychotic medications can help alleviate hallucinations, delusions, and other distressing symptoms. However, medication should always be prescribed by a medical professional.”
Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can assist individuals in learning coping mechanisms, managing stress, and understanding their thoughts and emotions. Therapy can also help individuals regain a sense of control over their lives.
4. Supportive environment
Creating a supportive and non-judgmental environment is crucial for individuals experiencing a psychotic breakdown. Friends and family members can play a significant role in providing emotional support and understanding.
5. Healthy lifestyle
Engaging in a healthy lifestyle can have a positive impact on mental health. Regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and adequate sleep can contribute to overall well-being and help manage symptoms.
6. Avoid substance abuse
“If substance abuse is a contributing factor, seeking help to overcome addiction is essential. Substance abuse can exacerbate symptoms and hinder recovery,” says Dr Tilwe.
7. Crisis intervention
Learn about crisis intervention resources in your area. Hotlines, crisis centers, and emergency services can provide immediate assistance during moments of distress.
So, if you think you are dealing with a psychotic breakdown, follow these tips and get professional help for a quick recovery.