People with mental health conditions usually end up being seen as “crazy.” It’s no wonder people don’t want to be associated with any mental disorder. Since anxiety usually comes with symptoms similar to those patients with mental problems and significant behavioral changes, people usually think of it as one of the types of psychosis disorder. But they thought wrong!
Anxiety Is Not a Psychotic Disorder
While it may be true that anxiety causes a lot of behavioral shifts and other changes, it does not lead to psychotic behavior. You can’t compare it to schizophrenia, delusional disorder, or any other psychotic disorders. Psychosis pushes the patient to lose touch with reality to a point of harming themselves or others. Anxiety, not psychotic anxiety, may also cause a patient to have a distorted view of reality, but it’s nothing dangerous and the changes are often fleeting.
Comparing Anxiety and Psychosis
There is an extreme case of anxiety called “derealization.” It causes patients to steer away from reality temporarily. This usually happens during the highest point of an anxiety attack, when the patients feel as though they’re in an alternate world. But these kinds of tactile hallucinations usually lessen as the anxiety ebbs away.
Anxiety tends to trigger unusual thoughts and behaviors. It will become worse for someone with an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which may cause disturbing thoughts to develop. These thoughts are often enough to make people think like they are experiencing an episode of anxiety psychosis. This is especially true when they start thinking of committing violent acts, engaging in extreme sexual acts, and devoting a lot of time thinking about death and gore.
However alarming these thoughts seem to be, they are all a part of an anxious mind.
Fortunately, thinking these thoughts doesn’t mean you’re psychotic, suffering from Schizoaffective disorder, Schizophrenia, or other disorders.
The similarities between anxiety and psychosis end there. Now, here come the differences between the two.
It’s actually easy to spot their differences. You just need to trace back your worries of being psychotic to the thought that your anxiety symptoms might be brought about by psychosis. That’s one thing that distinguishes you from the real psychotics because they don’t fear anything like that.
Patients with psychosis can’t even distinguish their world from the real world. They won’t notice anything amiss because they see everything as normal. If you start worrying that you’re fading from the real world just shows how normal you are. You still know what’s real and what’s not.
Another thing that real psychosis brings to the table is a series of disturbing thoughts. Sadly, people with psychosis will only notice how disturbing their thoughts are in between a few lucid moments. Otherwise, they would find their thoughts as normal as they can be. People suffering from OCD would grow especially anxious over such thoughts, keeping them out of their minds.
OCD sufferers and other people who are suffering from anxiety often end up thinking disturbing thoughts because of their desire not to think about them. How ironic, isn’t it? This is what suppression is capable of, as the brain tries to stop thinking about certain things only to circle back to that suppressed idea the more avoid it.
But in psychotic patients, these disturbing thoughts can’t be barred. They are not anxious about them and they don’t even try to stop the barrage of those thoughts in any way. They often treat those thoughts are normal ones, like what they would eat for breakfast, what movie they’ll watch. This is what’s scary when these patients start losing it and what’s worse is that their inability to distinguish reality from imagined reality is that they would see those disturbing thoughts as real and normal thoughts. Anxiety does not make such thoughts normal for you.
Treating Anxiety Psychosis
Experts think that the brain is likely to show psychosis-like symptoms during an extreme case of anxiety because it’s the brain’s way of dealing with extreme stress, causing psychotic symptoms to surface.
As stress overpowers the brain, its normal functions are diminished to protect itself from stress. As anxiety ebbs away, the brain would start functioning normally and the symptoms disappear.
So if you want to see anxiety psychosis go away, just wait for it to go away on its own.
You can also pull yourself back to the real world by putting your senses into good use. Describe the smells, sounds, and colors of the things around you. Soak your hands in cold water and let that cold feeling bring you back to reality. These are some of the exercises recommended by experts.
But the biggest thing that you can do for yourself is to rein your anxiety in. The less extreme it is, the smaller the chances are of you showing psychosis-like symptoms.