Psychological Disorders 2022

Psychic outbreak: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

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Psychic outbreak: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment
Psychic outbreak: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

The psychotic break is a temporary alteration of the mental state in which there is a dissociation between reality and the person's perception of it, and there may be hallucinations, anxiety and aggression during the episode.

This situation can be triggered by some psychiatric illnesses, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, or be a result of the consumption of hallucinogenic drugs or exposure to industrial products, such as lead, for example. Therefore, the occurrence of a psychotic break is not necessarily related to a psychiatric disorder, and it is important that the person is evaluated by a doctor.

Treatment for a psychotic break must be done in the hospital, requiring the use of antipsychotic medications and, in some cases, benzodiazepines prescribed by a psychiatrist.In addition, it is important that during the outbreak the person finds a quiet place and does not confront hallucinations and delusional ideas, and should contact an ambulance for immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of psychotic break

The person in the psychotic break may have some symptoms, the main ones being:

  • Hallucinations, which corresponds to the presence of sounds, images or sensations that do not exist;
  • Not knowing how to differentiate between real and fictitious, despite the demonstration of evidence;
  • Delusional ideas, such as thinking the neighbor is a spy who wants to steal information, for example;
  • Illusions, which are distortions of something real, like seeing a table and believing it's an animal, for example.

These symptoms may be accompanied by motor changes, such as aggressive movements, screaming, crying and inappropriate language.

It is important to take into account that the occurrence of a psychotic break in a person with no history of psychiatric illness does not necessarily indicate that they suffer from psychosis, and it is important that they be evaluated by a psychiatrist and neurologist to rule out another possible brain disorder or mental disorder that may be associated with the psychotic break.

Possible causes

Some factors may favor the occurrence of a psychotic break, such as:

  • Complications before and during childbirth, such as infections or maternal stress;
  • Family with schizophrenia or psychosis;
  • Psychiatric illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia;
  • Lack of adherence to antipsychotic treatment;
  • Consumption of hallucinogenic drugs;
  • Withdrawal from alcohol or sedative-hypnotic medications such as Zolpidem;
  • Drugs with an anticholinergic effect, such as antiparkinsonians or tricyclic antidepressants;
  • Exposure to industrial products such as lead;
  • Metabolic alterations, such as hypoglycemia and hyper or hypothyroidism;
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency;
  • Early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

Furthermore, it has been proposed that experiencing extremely stressful experiences could trigger a psychotic break, causing a loss of meaning and reality and a need for immediate psychiatric attention.

How the diagnosis is made

The diagnosis of the psychotic break must be made in a hospital environment by a psychiatrist, who must perform a physical and neurological evaluation to verify the person's state of consciousness and their clinical situation. If the person is agitated and not able to answer the doctor's questions, sedation may be necessary, and the doctor should seek information from family and/or friends.

In addition, the doctor may recommend performing blood and urine tests to identify possible drug ingestion, as well as imaging tests such as electroencephalogram, tomography or magnetic resonance imaging to rule out other possible diseases or brain changes that can cause the outbreak.

Treatment for psychotic break

Treatment for the psychotic break begins with the stabilization or correction of its cause, such as suspending the medication or administering the appropriate antidote to the hallucinogenic drug, for example. Then, the psychiatrist can indicate the most appropriate treatment, which may involve the use of antipsychotics, such as Haloperidol, Olanzapine or Ziprasidone, and benzodiazepines.

It is important to ensure a safe environment for the person who has had a psychotic break, as well as for the team that will treat them, avoiding stressful stimuli such as noise, for example. In addition, it is not recommended to confront the delusional ideas, hallucinations or illusions that the person has had, as this can further alter the person, so that he or she may have aggressive behaviors.

How to prevent

To prevent a psychotic break, it is important to consider the person's risk of having it, taking into account the established diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder, the personal and family history of a psychotic break, the lack of adherence to the psychiatric treatment, as well as experiences and behaviors that favor the outbreak.

In this way, the psychiatrist can indicate the performance of cognitive-behavioral therapy, with or without family intervention, to offer the person and family tools on how to deal with these episodes. It is also important not to self-medicate or offer the person antipsychotic medications that have not been guided by the psychiatrist.

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