Psychotic disorders that plague a person's mind can disrupt logical thinking and alter the perception of reality. Delusional beliefs, hallucinations, irrational thoughts and actions, paranoia and violent behavior often occur when this type of mental condition exists. The most common variations of psychotic disorders include schizophrenia and delusional and paranoid disorders. When senior citizens are afflicted, the condition may be known as paraphrenia.
The most common traits of psychotic disorders include paranoid and delusional thinking. An individual may seclude himself because he believes that others are conspiring to hurt him. He may lash out verbally at friends and loved ones or even become physically violent. In the mind of a psychologically disturbed person, he is protecting himself from the people who are conspiring against him. In reality, of course, that is simply not the case.
Auditory and visual hallucinations are also common in people who suffer from psychotic disorders. For example, schizophrenics may hear voices that belong to people who are no longer living — or have conversations with people who do not exist in the real world. The voices may tell them to do strange or violent things. People with this disorder may feel compelled to obey the commands of their hallucinations, posing a series danger to themselves and others.
The onset of psychotic disorders may have various root causes. Sometimes, outside influences are a major factor. Prescription or recreational drug use, for example, can precipitate the condition. A brain tumor or head injury may also trigger abnormal thinking and irrational behavior in certain patients. In some cases, psychosis is cured when the source of the disruption, such as a tumor mass, is removed.
Sometimes, psychotic disorders develop in people who have suffered from a series of traumatic events or extraordinary abuse. In these individuals, their brains virtually create an alternate reality. The brain does this as a coping mechanism when reality is too painful and unbearable. When psychosis occurs for these reasons, it typically presents during teen years or in early adulthood.
In later years, senior citizens with no previous signs of mental illness may suddenly exhibit signs of psychotic disorders, such as paraphrenia. They may become paranoid, believing that others want to cause them physical harm or steal their belongings. Speech often becomes difficult for them as well. They may use nonsensical words to express themselves, only to become frustrated when nobody understands them. Consequently, they begin to withdrawal from friends and loved ones.
Depending on the extent of the psychosis, treatment plans may vary. Some patients require constant monitoring for their own welfare and the safety of others. In these instances, an inpatient mental health facility is often the best option. Others may be treated with medication and psychotherapy on an outpatient basis. A psychiatrist will often make recommendations based on the diagnosis and the extent of the patient's mental illness.