What are the Different Types of Treatment for Acute Psychosis?

Laura M. Sands

Acute psychosis may be treated in a variety of ways, including medication, psychotherapy and psychiatric hospitalization. Individuals suffering from different types of psychosis do not all respond to the same treatments and some may need more than one type of treatment before being able to cope with mental illness. In severe cases, individuals who begin with an acute psychosis that turns into a more chronic condition may even need aggressive treatment, such as electroconvulsive therapy.

Psychotherapy is one form of treatment for acute psychosis.
Psychotherapy is one form of treatment for acute psychosis.

Psychotherapy, also referred to as talk therapy, involves one-on-one treatment with a trained therapist where a patient with acute psychosis is encouraged to engage in verbal communication as a form of therapy. Psychotherapy differs from psychiatric treatment, as the former does not generally involve the use of antipsychotic medication for treatment. While psychotherapy and psychiatric treatment can both be administered to residential patients, as well as outpatients, psychotherapy is more commonly administered on an outpatient basis.

A patient suffering from acute psychosis experiences delusional symptoms. As such, most are not aware of having lost touch with reality. Treatment generally begins with loved ones intervening and either convincing a person to seek medical attention or causing a person to be involuntarily admitted to a hospital. Once receiving treatment for their mental condition, however, some patients are able to understand a need for ongoing psychotherapy, as well as a need for antipsychotic medications.

Before a treatment plan for acute psychosis is implemented, a person must first undergo an evaluation to determine the type, scope and stage of a person’s mental illness. Treatment then depends on whether a person will be treated with inpatient therapy or through outpatient efforts. During inpatient treatment, acute psychosis is managed primarily through medication, psychotherapy and group social learning techniques, which help the patient relearn ways of maneuvering within society. Using social learning techniques, therapists help individuals within small groups learn and practice things like anger management and healthy communication, as well as discover better ways of thinking about themselves and their environment.

Individuals with acute psychosis may pose a danger to themselves, by way of suicidal behaviors, or may pose a threat to others with violent behavior. Once identified as being a danger to self or others, individuals suffering from psychosis are often forcibly placed under observation in an institutionalized setting while treatment is administered. While a patient at such a facility, a person with acute psychosis may be treated with group therapy and individual psychotherapy, More chronic forms may be treated with shock therapy, which sends an electric current to the brain in an attempt to treat neurological malfunctions. Patients committed to a facility are also given psychotropic medications in an effort to calm aggressive behaviors and restore neurological imbalances that prompt bizarre or threatening behaviors.

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