Movember: Psychosis In Men - What Is It, How To Spot The Signs And Treatment

Men's Mental Health - What Is Psychosis And How To Spot The Symptoms

It is estimated that one in every 100 people have at least one episode of psychosis during their lifetime with one new case per 2,000 people being diagnosed each year.

For an issue that affects so many people, it isn't readily discussed. But Movember is attempting to change that.

For the third of a four-part series exploring men's mental health, we spoke to Mind charity about psychosis.

What is psychosis?

The term psychosis describes experiences which other people don’t experience or share such as hearing or seeing things; or holding unusual beliefs, such as believing you are a God. Some people describe psychotic experiences as being like ‘waking dreams’, feeling as real and intense.

These experiences can be frightening, confusing, highly distressing and disruptive, interfering with everyday life, conversations, relationships, and finding or keeping a job.

How does psychosis affect men compared to women?

Figures from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity index suggest overall prevalence of psychotic disorder in 2006-2007 was 0.4%, and there is no significant gender difference (0.3% of men, 0.5% of women).

In both men and women the highest prevalence was observed in those aged 35 to 44 years (0.7% and 1.1% respectively). The numbers are very stable over repeated surveys.

What are the signs to look out for?

One sign of psychosis, in the view of many psychiatrists, is that you lack insight into your own state of mind.

In diagnosing you, they will want to know how you see and understand what is happening, and whether you are aware of being different from usual.

Your view of the world will be influenced by your cultural background and personal experiences. If these are not understood or shared by your doctors, you may feel that they lack insight, too.

What are the effective treatments?

Many people are experts in their own condition, and learn the ways of coping which work best for them, so it’s important people are involved in their own treatment. Most people will be offered neuroleptic drugs (also called antipsychotics or major tranquillisers).

Medication may not stop symptoms, but may make people feel calmer and less troubled by them. The best treatment is likely to be a combination of medication, a talking treatment, and other social support.

Talking treatments, such as counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and psychodynamic psychotherapy can reduce distress, and the intensity and frequency of psychotic experiences.

Art and music therapies help people express their feelings, especially if they have difficulty talking about them. Drama therapy is used to help people come to terms with past traumatic events which may contribute to psychotic experiences.

Working with self-help groups such as the Hearing Voices Network can be a very helpful way of coming to terms with hallucinations, and may stop them.

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