What Is the Treatment for Organic Psychosis?

There is no one specific treatment protocol for organic psychosis. Many treatments, like psychosocial therapy, are aimed at hindering the negative behavioral effects resulting from the condition, however. Cognitive therapy may also be an option for some patients. Various pharmaceuticals can help some patients with symptoms as well, chiefly dopamine-blocking drugs. If treatment approaches fail and symptoms escalate, an individual may need to be confined so that he or she will not present a danger to him or herself or to others.

Psychosis may simply be thought of as a break from reality. Extremely unrealistic thought patterns, beliefs, and even hallucinations characterize the condition. It is not generally considered a mental disorder, but rather it is a set of symptoms that can occur in conjunction with some mental disorders. When the causes of the psychosis can be traced to some biological component, however, the condition is known as organic psychosis. These components may include infections, physical diseases, or chemical substances that can alter brain chemistry.

As such, treatment may be partially reliant on treating these underlying sources of the brain abnormality. For infections, antibiotics may be needed. Substance abuse may necessitate rehabilitation measures. The large range of diseases that can impact brain functioning like thyroid disease are often treated via various drugs.


A particular brain chemical messenger known as dopamine is believed to facilitate many psychotic episodes. Particularly, certain conditions and disorders may result in an overabundance of the material. Therefore, drugs treating psychosis usually are aimed at blocking receptors for dopamine. An additional neurotransmitter, glutamate, may also play a role in organic psychosis, so drugs targeted at this substance could prove useful as well.

Antipsychotic drugs like clozapine and risperadone prove beneficial to some, but patients are often reluctant to take these drugs due to potential side effects like a sluggish, fog-like state. Such drugs produce this effect because they act somewhat as tranquilizers.

One prominent potential consequence of organic psychosis is dementia. This effect results when thinking, memory, or other cognitive tasks are impaired. When dementia is prominent, cholinergic agonists can be considered. These drugs affect the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Damage to this particular brain chemical system is theorized to hinder attention and memory functions: a key symptom of dementia.

Since thought disturbances are often a main component of organic psychosis, cognitive therapy can prove useful. Cognitive therapy is an approach where the therapist identifies the patient's faulty thoughts and beliefs. Exercises are aimed at correcting these beliefs by rationally challenging them and developing more healthy thought patterns. While some critics dispute the feasibility of using cognitive therapy on patients in the grip of psychosis, some scientific studies have indicated promising results.

Psychosocial solutions work on the behavioral changes that can result from organic psychosis as well, and specific approaches will depend on the unique issues of the patient. For example, patients with a bad temper might participate in anger management exercises. Individuals with trouble understanding social cues might work in groups to simulate various interpersonal scenarios, with the therapist offering guidance. Occupational therapy adds a behavioral approach by helping cognitively impaired individuals carry out everyday processes. These processes are usually divided into incremental steps.

Family therapy may also make the environments of individuals suffering from organic psychosis somewhat more tolerable. This approach emphasizes increased understanding and sensitivity of the condition for affected loved ones. The patient is encouraged to turn to family for support and aid.



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