Overview Of Secondary Psychosis
Secondary psychosis occurs when a person loses contact with reality.
The person may:
- Have false beliefs about what is taking place, or who one is (delusions)
- See or hear things that are not there (hallucinations)
Causes Of Secondary Psychosis
Medical problems that can cause psychosis to include:
- Alcohol and certain illegal drugs, both during use and during withdrawal
- Brain diseases, such as Parkinson disease, Huntington disease
- Brain tumors or cysts
- Dementia (including Alzheimer disease)
- HIV and other infections that affect the brain
- Some prescription drugs, such as steroids and stimulants
- Some types of epilepsy
Psychosis may also be found in:
- Most people with schizophrenia
- Some people with bipolar disorder (manic-depressive) or severe depression
- Some personality disorders
Symptoms Of Secondary Psychosis
A person with psychosis may have any of the following:
- Disorganized thought and speech
- False beliefs that are not based on reality (delusions), especially unfounded fear or suspicion
- Hearing, seeing, or feeling things that are not there (hallucinations)
- Thoughts that “jump” between unrelated topics (disordered thinking)
Exams & Tests
Psychiatric evaluation and testing are used to diagnose the cause of the secondary psychosis.
Laboratory testing and brain scans may not be needed, but sometimes can help pinpoint the diagnosis. Tests may include:
- Blood tests for abnormal electrolyte and hormone levels
- Blood tests for syphilis and other infections
- Drug screens
- MRI of the brain
Treatment depends on the cause of the secondary psychosis. Care in a hospital is often needed to ensure the person’s safety.
Antipsychotic drugs, which reduce hallucinations and delusions and improve thinking and behavior, are helpful.