I’m Looking up at my room ceiling in the dark, I can see a shadow. It is getting bigger and taking the shape of a monster. It wants to harm me. I just saw a horror movie so it is quite understandable. This is delusion if I don’t realize it is the shadow of my standing fan.
Delusions are fixed false beliefs or suspicions that are firmly held even when there is evidence to the contrary.
My aunt was at the trade fair in Lagos when people started running towards the gate. She was confused. Four gun men with bullet wounds, guns and cutlasses were coming towards her. She ran towards the gate too and was not able to calm down until she realized people were rushing because the gate was about to be locked. There were really no gory looking men. It was a hallucination, a psychotic experience.
Hallucinations are experiences of things that are not there, they could be auditory (hearing), visual (seeing) or tactile (feeling).
Everybody has psychotic experiences. A person who is considered to be mentally ill could have similar experiences but they become persistent and affect functionality in daily routine.
The term ‘Madness’ is discouraged because it is neither precise nor definite. One mental illness which has the above symptoms is Schizophrenia. There are many other mental disorders as mentioned in my last article 14 mental disorders that could affect you ,Mental disorders are generally characterized by a combination of abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behavior and relationships with others.
The causes of mental illnesses involve interplay of biological, environmental and psychological factors.
• Genetics (heredity): Mental illnesses sometimes run in families.
• Brain injury
• a disruption of early fetal brain development or trauma that occurs at the time of birth
• Severe psychological trauma suffered as a child, such as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
• An important early loss, such as the loss of a parent
• Death or divorce
• A dysfunctional family life
• Feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, or loneliness
• Changing jobs or schools
• Social or cultural expectations
• Substance abuse by the person or the person’s parents
Treatments options include use of drugs like antidepressants, anti-psychotic, mood stabilizers and anti-anxiety medications, psychotherapy also called talk therapy and brain stimulation.
Prompt access to health care and good social support is necessary for recovery.