Lincolnshire

Dr Vidyah Adamson: Psychosis – don’t be afraid of it, seek help for it

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The word ‘psychosis’ refers to a range of psychiatric conditions in which a person experiences a loss of contact with reality.

During an episode of psychosis a person may not be able to tell the difference between what is real and what is not. Symptoms include hallucinations and unusual beliefs, sometimes referred to as delusions.

These symptoms are usually an indicator that the person may be experiencing a mental health problem such as schizophrenia, delusional disorder or schizoaffective disorder.

Hallucinations can involve seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling or tasting something that others cannot. The most common type of hallucination experienced by people with psychosis involves hearing voices and these can range from friendly and comforting to critical and distressing. The voice may even tell the person what to do.

Unusual beliefs, or delusions, involve a strongly held belief that is not in line with social norms or the person’s culture. For example, they may believe that they are being monitored by the government, or that they have ‘special powers’. They may also believe that they are someone famous or that the TV or radio is sending them messages.

It is not clear what leads to some people experiencing psychosis, but many will have experienced childhood trauma or other traumatic experiences over the course of their lives that they have struggled to cope with. Triggers are often related to stress overwhelming someone’s ability to cope.

The length of a psychotic episode can vary from a few hours, to days, but the symptoms may continue for weeks, months or even years without treatment. Getting help early is key and it’s important that anyone experiencing their first episode of psychosis receives care as soon as possible.

Here at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT), we have a dedicated team of Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) practitioners who are available to support and help people living with psychosis. A number of treatment options are available including a range of psychological therapies and medication.

A national access and waiting time standard for EIP services was set by the Department of Health in April 2016 stating that 50% of people suffering their first episode of psychosis should begin a National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) approved package of care within two weeks of referral to the trust.

Since this target was set the EIP team at LPFT are seeing 94% of people within the two week recommendation.

Referrals to the service come from a variety of sources including GPs, community crisis teams and A&E services, in addition to self-referrals, with EIP workers providing a full range of support to help those accessing services.

We are committed to supporting people with timely access to treatment for psychosis and work closely with fellow health professionals across the Trust, to assess patients who need treatment urgently.

If you think you’re experiencing psychosis or are worried about a friend or family member, please contact your GP or call LPFT’s Single Point of Access Contact Centre on 0303 123 4000.