Can Anxiety Cause Psychosis?
Anxiety disorders affect millions of people around the world every year. In some cases, they can even become debilitating.
If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you might wonder whether these conditions can trigger psychotic symptoms. Psychosis is defined as having a mental disorder characterized by hallucinations, delusions, or both.
Anxiety and depression are common psychological problems that can manifest themselves in various ways. Some people experience anxiety or depression without having a psychiatric diagnosis.
Others develop a psychiatric condition such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
But the truth is, many different types of anxiety and depressive disorders can lead to psychoses if severe enough.
Read on for more information about how these disorders may contribute to hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms.
What Is Psychosis?
Psychosis is a condition that involves losing contact with reality. People often experience hallucinations and delusions.
Psychosis can be caused by a mental disorder, a physical illness, substance abuse, extreme stress or trauma, or some combination of these factors.
Psychosis is a common symptom of schizophrenia, which typically occurs during young adulthood.
Prodromal symptoms may occur before the first episode of psychosis and include signs such as unusual behavior or thinking patterns.
Secondary Psychosis is an episode stemming from another cause. This could be due to drugs or some other medical condition. After treatment, these episodes usually go away quickly.
Symptoms Of Psychosis
Psychosis doesn’t start as something sudden. There are warning signs that lead up to it. These include problems with schoolwork, work, or self-care and hygiene.
Other symptoms include suspicion, lack of concentration, and emotional detachment. Early psychosis is marked by hallucinations.
People who experience early psychosis may hear voices, see things that aren’t there, or feel sensations that aren’t real.
Psychotic episodes are usually accompanied by auditory hallucinations, tactile hallucinations, delusions, and other symptoms. A person experiencing these symptoms should seek medical help right away.
Causes Of Psychosis
Psychosis can be caused by genetics, trauma, illness, or injury. A traumatic event such as the loss of a loved one can cause psychosis. An individual may also develop psychosis after an injury or illness.
Psychotic symptoms are often caused by drug abuse, such as taking amphetamine and cannabis which are both known to cause psychotic symptoms in some people.
Treatment For Psychosis
Early treatment can prevent long-term damage from psychosis. A mental health team can help patients cope with the illness by working together to provide effective treatments.
Treatment includes medication and psychotherapy, as well as self-care techniques and support from family and friends.
Antipsychotic medication in combination with therapy can be used to help people who experience psychotic symptoms, and these individuals often develop psychotic episodes when they stop taking them before they should.
CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can help you recognize when a psychotic episode is coming on and how to manage it. Supportive psychotherapy can help you learn to live with psychosis and teach you how to cope with it.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal feeling, but people with anxiety disorders often experience intense, excessive, and persistent worries and fears.
People with anxiety disorders may avoid certain places or situations as a result of their illness.
Anxiety disorders are common mental illnesses that cause excessive worry about everyday things.
Examples include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and separation anxiety. People with severe anxiety may also experience panic attacks.
Symptoms Of Anxiety
Common anxiety signs and symptoms include feeling nervous, restless or tense, having a sense of impending danger or doom, having an increased heart rate, breathing rapidly (hyperventilation), sweating, trembling, feeling weak or tired, trouble concentrating, or thinking about anything else but the present worry, having trouble sleeping, having trouble controlling worry, and having the urge to avoid things triggering anxiety.
Causes Of Anxiety
Anxiety disorders can sometimes be triggered in people who are prone to it by life experiences such as traumatic events.
The causes of anxiety aren’t fully understood, but it is thought to also be a result of the inheritance of genetic traits.
Treatment For Anxiety
CBT is a type of talk therapy that helps people who suffer from anxiety disorders. It teaches them new ways to think and behave. Exposure therapy is part of this therapy.
It focuses on having patients face their fears so they can overcome them.
Anti-anxiety drugs are used to help people who suffer from many different types of anxiety disorders, and different variations of medications work better for different kinds of anxiety disorders.
You may need to take several different medications before finding the right one.
Can Anxiety Disorders Cause Psychotic Symptoms?
Psychological research suggests that psychotic symptoms can occur following a traumatic event or a panic attack. Because a traumatic event or severe anxiety symptom causes significant distress, psychosis can be triggered.
Anxiety disorders when severe – especially panic disorder and PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) can result in the symptoms of psychosis outlined above.
Normally, anxiety does not cause psychotic symptoms, but if left untreated it may become particularly severe and lead to irrational thinking and behaviors which are characteristic of psychosis.
Diagnosis And Treatment
Diagnosing the correct mental health condition is a major step in deciding how to treat an individual who presents with both a severe anxiety disorder and psychotic symptoms.
Mental health professionals should take into account all of the different elements of the patient’s mental health profile because different treatments are required for different people.
Normally, mental health teams take an integrated, holistic approach to treatment which includes the incorporation of both psychotherapies in the form of specialized CBT sessions to help individuals cope with their illness.
This may be a one-to-one session or a group setting. Often, group settings provide an effective way for sufferers to discuss their illnesses in a supportive environment.
Medication is usually used in conjunction with therapy, especially in the case of severe anxiety disorders which are complicated by psychotic symptoms.
Antipsychotics, antidepressants, or benzodiazepines may be used to control symptoms depending on both the severity of illness and the individual’s needs.
Whether you have psychosis, anxiety, both, or another mental health condition, they will significantly and negatively affect your thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
There are many possible combinations and levels of each – some mild, others catastrophic, and disabling.
You should always seek help from a mental health professional if you think you are suffering from a mental illness because, without treatment, these conditions usually worsen and can severely impact your quality of life.
When properly treated, people who suffer from mental health conditions can improve and go on to lead healthy lives.
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT
Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.
Last updated: February 28, 2024