ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 6, 2011 -- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) today released a report, First Episode: Psychosis,based on a survey in which approximately 20 percent of both individuals who experienced psychosis and family and friends indicated that "no one" helped in their time of crisis.
The survey also revealed a dramatic difference between individuals who experienced psychosis and family and friends over who first knew something was wrong and help was needed.
The 12-page report accompanies the launch of a special website, www.nami.org/psychosis, providing extensive resources to help bridge the gap between the appearance of symptoms and medical intervention.
Psychosis strikes an estimated three percent of people in some form during their lifetimes.
"Individuals and families who experience psychosis often experience a high level of isolation and despair," said NAMI Executive Director Michael Fitzpatrick. "They don't know what to do. They don't know where to get help."
"Psychosis is not a diagnosis, but a symptom," said NAMI Medical Director Ken Duckworth, M.D. "It may be transient, intermittent, short-term or part of a long term condition, including major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Typically it involves delusions or hallucinations."
NAMI's First Episode report is based on a July 2011 online survey of individuals who have experienced psychosis (1,215) and family members and friends (2,882).
"The dramatic difference in the perceptions of individuals who experience psychosis and those of family and friends over who first recognized that something was wrong may illustrate the complexity of symptoms and the challenge of discussing them openly," Duckworth said.
One point of strong agreement: both individuals who experienced psychosis and family and friends—approximately 50 percent each—identified the Internet as an important source of information. Others included mental health providers, support groups, family and friends.
"When a crisis occurs, health care providers are often downstream in the process," Duckworth noted. "Psychosis usually reaches a crisis point before it ever reaches the doctor's office."
"The challenge is to reverse the process. Greater education, greater recognition of symptoms, greater understanding of what to do, as well as a more welcoming mental health care system is what's needed," Duckworth said.
SOURCE National Alliance on Mental Illness