What is a psychotic episode?
The experience of psychosis is called a “psychotic episode”. A psychotic episode is losing touch with reality and seeing and hearing things that aren’t really there or believing things that aren’t true, like seriously believing you control the weather.
1% of people will have a psychotic episode in their lifetime. They can happen to anyone of any age. If you or someone you know is experiencing a psychotic episode, you should seek immediate medical attention.
An acute psychotic episode is when a psychotic episode gets very severe, and the person experiencing it is out of touch with reality and is preoccupied only with hallucinations and delusions as part of the psychotic episode.
To friends and family, this appears as a sudden onset of an uncharacteristic mood and bizarre behaviour. Acute psychosis is a serious mental health crisis and a psychiatric emergency.
Call 999 for immediate help if you or a family member is experiencing acute psychotic episodes. The condition tends to develop slowly, so it might not be obvious right away.
How long does a psychotic episode last? A psychotic episode can begin subtly, like hearing voices - but you can ignore them, and then they may progress over a few weeks to the acute stage, when you can’t ignore or drown out the voices, for example.
A psychotic episode can also be a one-time event and associated with other conditions, such as dementia, brain injury, medication side-effects, and drug abuse or withdrawal.
Correct care and treatment will allow a person who suffers from a psychotic episode to recover in a few weeks, depending on its cause, or weeks, or even days.
Psychotic episodes are associated with borderline personality disorder (BPD). A borderline personality disorder sufferer can experience particularly intense feelings that may be hard to cope with.
This can include uncontrollable anger, fear of abandonment, feeling isolated, feeling stressed, and even suicidal thoughts. Stress can aggravate the symptoms of BPD, resulting in a psychotic episode.
If this is indeed the case, treatment should be sought initially for the immediate psychosis, and then to manage BPD and avoid relapse in the future.