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What is Psychosis?

─ Psychosis usually occurs as an episode, not as a constant state

─ The person may experience a loss of some contact with reality

─ The person may experience severe disturbances in thinking, emotion, and behavior

Common Symptoms

Changes in emotion and motivation:

─ Depression

─ Anxiety

─ Irritability

─ Suspiciousness

─ Deadened, flat, or inappropriate emotion

─ Change in appetite

─ Reduced energy and motivation

Changes in thinking and perception:

─ Difficulties concentrating or paying attention; expresses odd ideas

─ Feeling that self or others are behaving differently

─ Unusual experiences of smell, sound, color, etc.

Changes in behavior:

─ Sleep disturbances

─ Social isolation or withdrawal

─ Reduced ability to carry out work and social roles

Types of Disorders in which Psychosis May Occur

─ Schizophrenia

─ Bipolar disorder

─ Psychotic depression

─ Schizoaffective disorder

─ Drug-induced psychosis

How To Help a Person Who May be Experiencing Psychosis

─ Approach the person in a calm, caring, and non-judgmental way

─ Do not touch the person without permission

─ Let the person know you are concerned and that you want to help

─ Remain calm; speak quietly in a nonthreatening tone, calmly, slowly, and caringly

─ Note signs of disruptive or aggressive behavior

─ Try to find a place to talk that is safe and free from distractions

─ Listen and watch for suicidal thoughts and behaviors

─ Be sensitive to the way the person is responding and behaving

─ Let the person set the pace of the discussion and tell you about their experiences and beliefs

─ Answer questions calmly; comply with reasonable requests

─ Maintain your safety and access to an exit

─ Do not do anything to further agitate the person

─ Respect the person’s privacy and confidentiality

Try to De-escalate the Situation

─ Don’t argue or challenge the person

─ Don’t make threats

─ Don’t raise your voice or talk too fast

─ Use positive words instead of negative words

─ Stay calm and avoid nervous behavior

─ Don’t restrict the person’s movement

─ Try to be aware of what may increase the person’s fear and aggression

─ Pause; don’t fill every moment with talking

Respond to disorganized speech by talking in an uncomplicated manner

─ Speak slowly and use short sentences

─ Repeat things if needed; be patient and allow time for responses

─ Be aware that the person is still experiencing feelings, even though the person may be showing a limited range of emotions

─ Do not assume the person cannot understand you, even if the response is limited

─ Treat the person with respect and dignity

─ Offer consistent emotional support and understanding

─ Provide practical help

─ Do not make any promises that you cannot keep

─ Encourage appropriate professional help

Remember to:

─ Understand the person’s symptoms for what they are

─ Empathize with how the person says she or he is feeling

Remember not to:

─ Confront the person

─ Criticize or blame

─ Take comments personally

─ Use sarcasm or patronizing statements

─ Correct the person’s beliefs and experiences

What if the person doesn’t want Help?

─ If you think the situation warrants emergency responders, call 911 or ask someone else to make the call

─ Encourage the person to talk with someone he or she trusts; ask if there is someone you can call

─ Never threaten the person (i.e. with hospitalization)

─ Remain patient, friendly, and calm

─ Later, remind yourself that the person may remember you as someone who treated them kindly, and appreciate yourself for that.

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