Dr Zeerak Attari
The faculty to distinguish between right and wrong is a remarkable bounty of Allah Almighty. This faculty can be impaired by a host of mental health conditions. Psychosis is one such condition which causes the patient to disconnect from reality. It is one of the serious health issues to affect people. The difficulties caused by psychosis are perhaps even worse than cancer. Alongside the affected person, their family members also bear the brunt and adverse effects of this illness. Some basic information about psychosis and its treatment will be given in this article.
Just as physical ailments have symptoms, mental health illnesses also have some symptoms. At a basic level, psychosis has two major signs, which are known as hallucinations and delusions.
Hallucinations are linked to the five senses. In people that have psychosis, it is usually their sense of hearing that is impacted. The affected person hears voices in their ear that others cannot hear. They usually cover their ears to block out these sounds, or they begin responding to these voices. To onlookers, it appears as though they are speaking to themselves or to something that cannot be seen. The affected person does not understand what is happening to them. These voices are usually negative and cause the person to feel paranoid and anxious.
The sense of seeing, smelling, touching, and even taste can be affected in some people with psychosis. They see things that others cannot see or feel as though something is crawling on their body. Some of them sense a strange smell or taste that is not really there. These types of symptoms are sometimes caused by other conditions, such as epilepsy or Lewy body dementia. However, in comparison to hearing voices, these symptoms are much less common.
The second major sign of psychosis is to believe in things that are not true, i.e., delusional beliefs. A person begins to believe in things that are opposite to reality. Most of those affected think that somebody is trying to harm them, that the police are searching for them, or someone wants to take their life. In reality, this does not be the case at all, but all kinds of thoughts become imprinted on the person’s mind. In response, they take steps to protect themselves. Many of those affected by this do not leave their homes in case somebody captures them. To protect themselves, some of them even keep a dagger, knife, or other weapon on their person, which can be a danger to others. However, this is rare.
The presence of either hallucinations or delusions is enough to make a positive diagnosis of psychosis. The daily life of the affected person becomes disrupted and limited. Eating, drinking, sleeping, changing clothes, and other necessities are severely impacted. A person begins to speak incoherently. Sometimes, they begin to harm themselves or others. In short, the entire household finds itself in a tense, peaceless environment.
Psychosis itself is a symptom, which is caused by other mental illnesses or substance abuse. Mental illnesses which cause psychosis include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression. Alongside this, psychosis can be caused by the following:
1. Sudden mental shock (e.g., someone’s death in an accident, another unexpected crisis, being subjected to oppression, etc.)
2. Major or chronic stress.
3. Substance abuse/drug use.
4. Consuming alcohol.
5. Side effects of certain medications.
6. Physical diseases, such as a brain tumour.
Therefore, it is necessary that a person affected by psychosis is immediately assessed by a doctor without delay. Whether caused by a mental illness or something else, psychosis can be treated and controlled to a great degree. However, the longer the treatment is delayed, the stronger the psychosis will take root, and then treatment will be less effective.
Like other mental health disorders, it is possible to treat psychosis. The following are necessary for the treatment of psychosis:
1. Anti-psychotic medication.
3. Social help and support.
Unfortunately, in our society, there is a negative mindset in relation to anti-psychotic medications, which has a detrimental effect on the affected person, their family, and the wider community. Around two-thirds of individuals who suffer from psychosis can live a completely normal life by using anti-psychotic medication. One-third of sufferers only have to take medications for the first few months and then they can leave them, while others have to take the medication for life. Only a psychiatrist can decide this. Therefore, we should accept and trust the advice of the doctor; Islam teaches us to do this.
Psychosis and self-harm/suicide
There is a greater risk of self-harm/suicide in sufferers of psychosis. Around 5-10% of affected people end their lives through suicide. There is a greater chance of this taking place at the time of being admitted to the hospital and during the first few days after being discharged. Thirty percent of those who are affected by psychosis are also involved in self-harm.
May Allah Almighty protect us all from physical, mental, and spiritual ailments.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ خاتَمِ النَّبِیّیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم