ParentsCarers-booklet-psychosis-1.doc

Causes of psychosis the root cause of the signs of

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Causes of Psychosis
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The root cause of the signs of psychosis is not known. It is generally agreed that there are a number of different causes. It is therefore important to find out as much as we can about an individual demonstrating the signs of psychosis to help us decide what might be helpful in their treatment. Biological influences People with psychosis have been found to have an imbalance in the chemicals in their brain. An imbalance in the neurotransmitter Dopamine has been particularly identified as a possible cause. Another difference in the brains of people with psychosis is a loss of brain tissue in the front areas of the brain. It is not clear whether this might be a cause or an effect of psychosis. There appears to be a genetic vulnerability to psychosis. This means that people with a family history of psychosis are at a higher risk of developing it compared to people with no family history.
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Environmental influences Stress levels are thought to be important contributors to the development of psychosis. It is thought that around 70% of people who hear voices developed this experience following a traumatic or emotional event. Increased levels of stress can trigger a relapse for a person who has already experienced an episode of psychosis. Past stressful life events can also play a role. For example the experience of sexual abuse, bullying, bereavement or moving away from home can lead to psychosis. An individual’s position in our society can also have an impact on the risk of them developing psychosis. It is known that people in marginalised groups are at increased risk of developing psychosis. This suggests that the social environment, material resources and social roles people have can play a part in the development of psychosis. Using illicit drugs (‘street drugs’) such as cannabis may trigger psychosis in an individual who has an underlying vulnerability, possibly due to the factors outlined above. Often people might use such drugs or alcohol to help them to cope with the distressing signs of psychosis. Unfortunately, these drugs can increase the
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risk of relapse into another episode of psychosis, the development of additional problems such as depression, or more persistent psychotic symptoms. Treatments for Psychosis An episode of psychosis can have many effects on an individual’s life. Their thinking patterns and behaviour can be severely affected, but psychosis can also have an impact on their relationships with friends and family, school or work functioning and physical health. It is therefore often useful for a mixture of treatments to be used to target all the areas that have deteriorated due to the experience of psychosis.
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