Psychosis is an illness when people might experience things that are not real, or see or hear things that don’t really exist. It usually comes on in teenage years or in young adulthood and is usually set off by stress or by using drugs. It can be quite distressing and frightening for people. Medication is the first type of treatment offered. Anti-psychotics work by blocking the action of dopamine in the brain.
It can take a few weeks for the meds to start working and you usually take them for 1-2 years.
Main side effects: weight gain and tiredness, stiffness, problems with heart rate. Stopping meds too early can lead to return of symptoms.
You may also need some other kinds of therapy to feel better. Ask what choices are right for you, and the problem that you are experiencing. Try different things. When you start to feel better you’ll know that you are doing the right thing with the combination of treatments for yourself.
Tangata whai ora*:
“My response to medication was really good… I afraid to take it at the beginning that was because of my psychosis. I was thinking people were trying to poison me or trying to control me but my experience of medication… it was pretty immediate some of the symptom relief.”
“Without the medication none of the other treatment would have been possible. Once he was on the medication it was possible for the therapists to unbundle the condition that was happening over a period of time.”
Tangata whai ora*:
“I had therapy appointments every week, and I had an OT^ who came in helped me get a job and get me integrated back into society.”
“The medication wasn’t the be all and end all. It alleviated some of the symptoms quite early on and quite immediately but uncovered some of the core problems that came along with the psychosis, recognising that I had an anxiety disorder and recognising that I had a problem with depression.”
* Tangata whai ora = in this context: adolescent service user
^ OT = Occupational Therapist