Psychotic Symptoms

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Psychotic symptoms can be the consequence of medical conditions, psychological conditions, use and abuse of controlled substances, and prescription drug side effects. A patient's particular condition will often determine the psychotic symptoms that a person may experience. Generally speaking, psychotic symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized and/or bizarre behavior, and disorganized speech.

Hallucinations are false perceptions: a person may feel, hear, or see something that does not exist. For example, a person with psychotic symptoms may hear voices, see objects, patterns or lights, or feel like bugs are crawling on them, though in actuality none of these things are occurring. Delusions are false beliefs or gross misinterpretations of experiences or perceptions. For example, a person with psychotic symptoms might believe that people want to hurt them, they are someone they are not, or that others can read their mind. Disorganized or bizarre behavior might include childlike silliness, unprovoked agitation, and inappropriate appearance, hygiene, and/or conduct.

Psychotic symptoms are characteristic of a number of mental health disorders. Schizophrenia and similar conditions like schizophreniform, schizotypical personality disorder, and brief psychotic disorder, cause hallucinations, delusions, abnormal thinking, flattened affect (range of emotion), and more. Schizoaffective disorder produces similar psychotic symptoms and mood symptoms like mania and depression. Some serious medical conditions can also cause a person to develop psychotic symptoms including: brain tumor, thyroid disease, epilepsy, kidney failure, and vitamin deficiencies.

There are hundreds of drugs- legal and illegal- which can also cause a person to develop psychotic symptoms. Some studies have suggested that marijuana use can double a person's risk of developing a mental health disorder and can prompt psychotic symptoms. There are a number of prescription medications and over the counter drugs that may cause psychotic symptoms. Drug induced psychotic symptoms are so widespread that Public Citizen, a reputable consumer advocate group, released a two part publication about the many families of drugs which are known to cause psychotic symptoms. The group's findings were based on a July 2002 issue of The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics , a highly respected reference guide for doctors and pharmacists.

The following drug families were just some of those listed as medications known to cause psychotic symptoms: amphetamine-like drugs, anabolic steroids, ACE inhibitors, atropine, antidepressants, antiepileptics, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, some antibiotics, estrogens, antihistamines, MAO Inhibitors, NSAIDs, opioids, salicylates, SSRIs, statins, and some herbal dietary supplements such as those containing ephedra.

Public Citizen recommends that people who develop any new symptom, including psychotic symptoms, after beginning a new drug treatment should consult with their medical professional as soon as possible. It is important not to stop or change any prescribed treatment regiment without first speaking with a health care professional.

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