Promoting mental health, demystifying mental illness, countering stigma and discrimination

Psychotic Disorder

What is Psychosis/Psychotic Disorder?

They are mental disorders in which the personality is seriously disorganised and a person's contact with reality is impaired. During a psychotic episode a person is confused about reality and often experiences delusions and/or hallucinations. Most people recover well from an episode of psychosis.
What causes Psychosis/Psychotic Disorders?
The causes are not fully understood. They are likely to be a combination of heredity and other factors. It is probable that some people are born with a predisposition to develop this kind of illness. Certain things such as undue stress or misuse of alcohol and/or other drugs can trigger a first episode.

Some people experience a brief form of psychosis (Brief Psychotic Disorder). Some people experience a few episodes of psychosis only. Some people experience psychosis associated with a longer-term illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

How many people develop Psychosis/Psychotic Disorders?
Psychotic disorders are quite common worldwide. About 3% of the population will experience some form of psychosis at some point in their lives. Most of these will be first affected in their late teens and early twenties.

What are the symptoms?
Some of the characteristics associated with psychotic disorders include delusions, hallucinations, bizarre behaviour, incoherent and disorganised speech and/or disorganised behaviour.

Delusions are described as false, inaccurate beliefs the person holds onto even when he/she is presented with accurate information.

Hallucinations are internal sensory perceptions, such as sights or sounds that are not actually present.

How are Psychosis/Psychotic Disorders Diagnosed?
A mental health professional arrives at the diagnosis of a psychotic disorder by conducting a mental health status examination and by taking a very careful personal history from the person concerned. On occasion, people with psychotic disorders are brought involuntarily for evaluation and treatment.

How are Psychosis/Psychotic Disorders Treated?
Treatment can do much to reduce and even eliminate the symptoms. In the acute stage, a person with a Psychotic Disorder is treated with medication. The medications are called antipsychotics. They are used to help organise a person's thinking and therefore his/her behaviour. Treatment should generally include a combination of medication, psychotherapy and community support. Although some people with psychotic disorders can be treated as outpatients,
acutely disorganised people with psychoses frequently need hospitalisation in order to become stabilised. 

Resources for Assistance in Taranaki:

Taranaki Health Mental Health Services
Child and Adolescent Services.         
Tel: 753 7790
Fax: 753 7791
Adult Mental Health Services                                                     
Tel: 753 7749
Fax: 753 7715

Kaupapa Maori Services
Mahia Mai A Whai Tara                                                            
8 Warre Street, Waitara                                              
Tel: 754 4669 Fax: 754 4669

Te Whara Puawai O Te Tangata Trust
Tel: 06 759 4300
Barrett Street Hospital,
New Plymouth

Te Kokoritanga o Te Rau Pani - Maori Mental Health Services
Maru Wehi Hauora Complex
36 Maratahu Street, New Plymouth. 4343.
Tel: 06 759 7306
Fax: 06 759 7307

The following websites provide information on psychosis issues:
A very useful NZ website with a fact sheet on most psychotic disorders

Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre
(EPPIC), Victoria, Australia.


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Taranaki Mental Health Sector