Does the future of psychosis consist of a drug-free treatment?
Most people think psychosis is an illness, but it's not, it's a symptom. There is not a single cause of psychosis but it can arise from any mental illness, substance abuse or extreme trauma and stress. This condition affects the way the brain processes information. It can cause people to lose touch with reality. Common examples are hearing voices or believing that people are trying to harm you which all classify under the topic of hallucinations. According to the national institute of mental health three out of one hundred people will experience psychosis at some point in their lives. People may not be aware that they have psychosis because the delusions will feel real. It can be extremely overwhelming, and in some cases cause people to harm themselves.
There are various different types of delusions, The main four are going to be discussed in the
following. Firstly, delusions of persecution is the most common form of delusions that individuals suffering from psychosis experience. This involves believing that someone or something is out to get you. Secondly delusions of infidelity involve jealousy with disorders of passion where there is a sense of threat to their passion, this type of delusion is the most common in homicide cases. Thirdly, Delusions of guilt are self critical and may lead the individual to believe that they are evil and have committed an unforgivable sin. These delusions are most common in depressive illnesses and in some cases lead to suicide or homicide. Lastly, erotomania, delusions of love includes a person believing that another person is in love with them despite clear evidence against it. This condition tends to affect women more than men and can lead to major obsessive illnesses. Delusions can be a direct representation of a person's emotional concern.
Many factors can cause psychosis such as genetics. Researchers have discovered that there are genes which are involved with the development of psychosis, but this is not concrete evidence suggesting a cause. Childhood trauma and substance abuse has shown to be associated with psychosis. Secondary causes of psychosis may include, brain disease, alzheimers and tumors.
Treatments in psychosis include psychotherapy, medication, complementary health approaches and in some cases hospitalization. Medication is very common, especially antipsychotic medicine. This type of medicine blocks out the effect of dopamine, which transmitted a message in the brain. In addition cognitive behavioral therapy for psychosis is based on traditional therapy, such as understanding where your problems stem form. The aim of this is to help the patient achieve their goals. Furthermore Norway has been looking into ways to treat psychosis.
In Norway there began to be concerns on the overall benefit of drugs used to treat mental health. The UN committee against torture has singled out Norway's use of forced isolation in mental health facilities as something that had to change.
Individuals who tried to live without medication and were finally able to stop using these drugs, joined the movement to change Norway's mental health system. Which ended with the health authorities to provide medication- free treatment wards. This achievement is leading research into significant discoveries.
Norway is now offering a drug-free treatment to people with psychosis. This new approach is available via the national health system for patients who want to live drug free. This kind of treatment can have many benefits especially in those with a history of drug abuse.
This approach has changed lives, as 20% of patients do not respond to the antipsychotic drugs, although some people still need medication to keep their heads above water.
There have been critics stating this approach is driven by ideology rather than evidence. Specialists are worried about this idea as most patients with psychosis do not realise they are ill and the drug free units operate on a voluntary basis. There have been studies saying that if you don't treat psychosis with drugs there might be extreme consequences and in some cases, as shown in the study you might end up living on the streets. Although, there is immense research going on to track patients in the years after they've been at the medication free unit. There have been no suicides but the approach lacks a strong evidence base. There is still time and an immense amount of research going into this field.
Could this new approach be doing more harm than good or is it the future?
“Delusional Disorder and Types of Delusions: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/guide/delusional-disorder.
“Erotomania: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319145#treatment.
Pressly, Lucy Proctor and Linda. “How Norway Is Offering Drug-Free Treatment to People with Psychosis.” BBC News, BBC, 19 Feb. 2021, www.bbc.com/news/stories-56097028.