Psychosis - Treatments
How is psychosis treated?
What treatment should I be offered?
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has guidance on how the NHS should treat different health conditions. The NHS does not have to follow this guidance, but is has to take it into account. There are guidelines on:
- young people with psychosis and schizophrenia,
- adults with schizophrenia, psychosis or schizoaffective disorder
- young people and adults with bipolar disorder,
- adults with depression.
You can find all of the NICE guidelines here.
If you have your first episode of psychosis, you should be referred to an early intervention team for initial treatment. NICE guidance states this should be the case no matter what age you are. These specialist teams provide treatment and support. They are made up of psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, social workers and support workers. Early intervention services are run differently in different parts of the country. If there is not a service in your area, then you should have access to a crisis or home treatment team.
Some people find that they do not start to recover until they get they right medication. Medications such as Olanzapine, Repiridone and Clozapine can be important factors in recovery.
Medication called antipsychotics can help treat symptoms of psychosis. Your doctor should give you information about antipsychotics including side effects. You and your doctor should choose the medication together.
Doctors will review your medication at least once a year.
It is important to get your medication right. Not all medications will suit you. Some will not improve your symptoms and may cause side effects. If you are on a medication that is not working, you should discuss this with the professional in charge of your care.
You can find more information about Medication – choice and managing problems here.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
You should also have access to ‘talking treatments’ such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT can help you understand your experiences and any upsetting and worrying thoughts and beliefs. You can discuss new ways of thinking about them and dealing with them. CBT doesn’t get rid of the symptoms, but may help you cope better and make you feel less distressed.
Further information can be found in our ‘Talking therapies’ factsheet.
If you have bipolar disorder and experience psychosis, your treatment may be different. Your doctor may prescribe you a different medication to stabilise your mood rather offer you an antipsychotic. Although antipsychotics may be prescribed to stabilise your mood.
As well as specific treatment, you may also get support from mental health services through the Care Programme Approach (CPA). This usually involves having a care co-ordinator who will develop a care plan with you.
People who experience mental illness, such as schizophrenia, are at more risk of health issues. They can include being overweight, having coronary heart disease and diabetes. This may be due to your genes, lifestyle choices, such as smoking and diet, or side effects from medication.
Because of the health risks NICE made some recommendations.
- When you start taking antipsychotic medication, you should have a full physical health check, including weight, blood pressure and other blood tests. Doctors should repeat these checks regularly.
- Health professionals should offer you a combined healthy eating and physical activity programme.
- A healthcare professional should give you help to stop smoking.
Your symptoms of treatment may affect some physical health problems.
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