The Dark Side of Mania

One of the most common misconceptions about mania, is the fact that many believe it is solely a euphoric and extremely happy state of mind in which your self-confidence flows as of that of a great river, and nothing could stand in your way. Although those feelings can and do occur, mania is not necessarily an enjoyable experience, and it certainly has its dark side.

With mania, everything can spiral out of control within the blink of an eye, the individual who is within the the state of mania may fail to recognise this at the time, although that is not always the case. The individual can and very well may be aware of the distress they are in and the damage they are causing, yet it still remains out of their control.
Mania can cause a range of symptoms which can cause a vast amount of distress to the individual, and those around them. This includes:

– irritability and agitation

– anger (to extreme lengths in some cases)

– racing thoughts

– impulsiveness

– recklessness

– a lack of attention / concentration

– grandiosity and a sense of invincibility

– psychosis (hallucinations, delusions, disorganised thinking etc – even in those who do not suffer from a psychotic illness)

– insomnia

This can cause an individual to say or do things that are completely out of character, such as making risky decisions and engaging in dangerous behaviour, being rude or aggressive, and spending money excessively or inappropriately. In a manic state, a person may lack social inhibitions to a significant degree and have an impaired sense of judgement, which is why doing the things previously stated can be extremely easy to do.

As mania also tends to cause a person to suffer from insomnia, this can create a vicious cycle where the insomnia makes the state of mania far more intense, and vice versa.

The crash is inevitable, and eventually it will come. It is most common to come to the realisation of exactly what you have done throughout your state of mania during this period. Which also adds more distress, frustration, guilt, and shame to fuel the crash, as well as the episodes of depression which tend to follow.

It is important to remember that mania affects each individual in very different ways, including the dark side of mania, therefore symptoms will present themselves differently in each individual and may not be easy to identify.

More often than not, it can be exceptionally difficult to talk to an individual in a manic state about their behaviour, as well as attempting to talk them out of bad decisions and dangerous situations. Due to the effects of mania, they may see no problems with their behaviour, especially if they are experiencing states and thoughts of grandiosity. However, this does not mean that you should not be there to support them in every way that you can, although it may be immensely difficult, you may be able to help keep them from harm as well as break through and talk some sense into them.

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Prodromal Schizophrenia: Signs & Symptoms

The symptoms of schizophrenia typically develop around the age of adolescence, and young adulthood for men. Whereas they tend to develop during a woman’s late 20’s or 30’s, however, this is not always the case. Symptoms may develop suddenly or gradually. There are three phases of schizophrenia, the prodromal phase, active phase, and residual phase. Depending on where you live, you might be told that there a four stages to schizophrenia including the previous three, as well as the relapse phase.

Prodromal schizophrenia is typically the first phase of oncoming schizophrenia. The symptoms of the prodromal phase are often vague and easy to miss, they tend to mimic other disorders making it difficult to be noticed; particularly in teenagers, as the symptoms may not seem unusual for someone of that age, hence why schizophrenia often goes undiagnosed at this point. This phase can last for weeks or months, and at times, even up to several years. The symptoms of the prodromal phase are typically triggered by stress and stressful events, such as upcoming exams, the death of a family member or friend, bullying, and numerous other causes of stress. Comorbid disorders can be rather common during this period.

Individuals who are experiencing the prodromal phase of schizophrenia are often adolescents or young adults who are experiencing mild to moderate disturbances in perception, cognition, stress tolerance, energy levels, language, and motor function. The symptoms which develop during the prodromal phase tend to develop gradually, an individual may start to lose interest in their hobbies and usual pursuits, they may withdraw from friends and family, resulting in isolation. Individuals within the prodromal phase may find that they are easily confused, have difficult concentrating, are intensely preoccupied with religion, philosophy, the paranormal, and conspiracies.

The prodrome / prodromal phase of schizophrenia is not a full psychotic break, rather a display of abnormal behaviour similar to, but not as severe as that which is seen in psychotic patients.

Please do not use this as a diagnostic tool, the symptoms which have been previously mentioned are typical of the prodromal phase, however, these symptoms can be due to other causes or mental illnesses. Therefore if you have any concerns or display any of the previously mentioned symptoms, please speak to your doctor or psychiatrist.

Panic Attacks

A panic attack is a sudden and overwhelming feeling of extremely intense anxiety, which is disabling to the individual. A person who experiences panic attacks in a chronic manner, may have panic disorder. Panic disorder often occurs in conjunction with other severe mental illnesses, such as substance abuse disorders, depression, bipolar and schizophrenia. However, it can occur on its own.

Quite often, you may see the terms ‘panic attack’ and ‘anxiety attack’ being used interchangeably, however this is not necessarily the case. Anxiety attacks tend to intensify over a duration of time, usually during periods when the individual is experiencing excessive worry; whereas panic attacks tend to occur suddenly and with no reason.

The causes of panic disorder are not entirely understood, though it is believed to be cause by a combination of factors, including both environmental and biological factors. These factors include:

– family history

– abnormalities of the brain

– substance use and abuse

– traumatic events / major life transitions

Symptoms of Panic Attacks

The symptoms of a panic attack will often occur suddenly, with the duration of the panic attack typically lasting for 5 to 20 minutes; although they can be longer or shorter depending on the individual and the given circumstances. During a panic attack you may experience:

– difficult breathing / feeling short of breath (hyperventilation)

– pounding heartbeat / palpitations

– intense feeling of dread

– trembling

– sweating

– nausea

– dizziness / feeling faint

– chest pains

– choking sensation

– tingling / numbness in limbs (typically your fingers and toes)

– ringing in your ears

When experiencing a panic attack, many individuals think that they are having a heart attack or are actually going to die; others may feel that they are about to lose control or consciousness. However, these are merely the symptoms of a panic attack, and although it may feel as if there is something seriously wrong with you at the time, they should not cause you any harm and are not dangerous.

Another key symptom of panic disorder, is the constant and persistent fear of the next panic attack occurring. Which, in turn, can cause another panic attack to occur, therefore creating a vicious cycle of panic attacks.

Treatment for Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is typically treated using medication and psychotherapy, as well as with a great deal of self care such as using breathing or relaxation techniques.

Psychotherapy involves addressing the individuals emotional response to the mental illness, a trained professional will talk the individual through strategies which can be used in order to understand and cope with their illness. There are several anti-depressant medications which are used to treat panic disorder, as well as anti-anxiety medications.

Breathing and relaxation techniques are used and most beneficial when the panic attack occurs, it is possible to end a panic attack through these techniques; though this may take a lot of practise.

Prognosis of Schizoaffective Disorder

A prognosis is the likely course of a medical condition, which in this case is schizoaffective disorder. The prognosis for each mental disorder may differ vastly, although similar disorders may have a similar prognosis. The prognosis of a mental disorder will be different for each individual, including those with the same disorder. This is because the disorder itself is not the only factor that will affect the prognosis, genetic and environmental factors may affect the prognosis of the disorder.

Receiving the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder may seem like the end of the world, however, this is not true. Schizoaffective disorder is a life changing illness, currently, there is no cure; though it can be managed and treated successfully through the use of medication and a wide range of therapy. There are many people with schizoaffective disorder who live happy, successful, and fulfilling lives.

It is typically agreed that the prognosis for schizoaffective disorder lies somewhere between that of schizophrenia and bipolar. This means that those with schizoaffective disorder have a better prognosis than those with schizophrenia, and a worse prognosis than those with bipolar disorder. However, this is not always the case as other factors will influence the prognosis of schizoaffective disorder for each individual. Schizoaffective disorder is an immensely complicated disorder, making it harder to identify and diagnose. As the disorder is highly complicated, it is more difficult to treat which in turn lowers the chance of recovery. Similarly to schizophrenia and bipolar, schizoaffective disorder have higher mortality rates to suicide than the general population. In order to maximise the potential of an individual with schizoaffective disorder having a good prognosis and chance of recovery, early and effective treatment is necessary.

The prognosis of schizoaffective disorder varies at an individual level. Although this disorder it typically serious and chronic, some individuals may find that they experience milder and less frequent episodes of illness. Each and every person with schizoaffective disorder will experience symptoms in different ways. To begin with, those who suffer from this disorder will have a decreased life expectancy of 10 – 15 years due to the association with unhealthy habits and lifestyles, such as a lack of exercise, obesity, substance use and abuse, as well as the potential of the individual committing suicide. If left untreated, the disorder may lead the individual to participate in risky activities whilst becoming dysfunctional in all areas of life, which could result in suicide. The overall rate of suicide for schizoaffective disorder is 10%, which is extremely alarming.

There are many factors which may affect your prognosis. Although some factors which affect your prognosis may be out of your control, some are not; therefore it’s extremely important to be aware of what could affect your prognosis, for better or for worse.

Factors which indicate a good prognosis:

  • Older age of onset
  • Being female
  • Good support system
  • Fewer negative symptoms
  • High level of functioning prior to onset of illness
  • No history of substance abuse
  • No family history of schizophrenia / bipolar / schizoaffective disorder

Factors which indicate a poor prognosis:

  • History of substance abuse
  • Higher number of negative symptoms
  • Earlier age of onset
  • Inadequate support system / no support system
  • Being male
  • Low level of functioning prior to the onset of illness

If you or someone you know suffers from schizoaffective disorder, please seek professional treatment immediately. Many people who suffer from schizoaffective disorder can and do lead perfectly normal lives. Although there is no cure for this disorder, with treatment it can be managed effectively. Through the use of medication and therapy, symptoms can be controlled which will allow the individual to function within the real world. With time, the individual themselves and those around them can learn to pay attention to the signs and symptoms of a potential relapse in order to prevent them. Having a good support network is invaluable as other people will be able to assist you with recovering from your mental illness, by identifying a potential relapse or providing you with access to care in case of a relapse or emergency. In conclusion, those who suffer from schizoaffective disorder can lead healthy, fulfilling and normal lives with the use of treatment and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Common Hallucinations in Psychosis

Both psychosis and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are often characterised by hallucinations. I have wrote about hallucinations briefly in the past, if you would like to view that article please click here. Hallucinations are defined as an experience where the apparent perception of something is not present, a hallucination would be when an individual hears, sees, smells, tastes or feels something that doesn’t exist outside of their mind. Hallucinations can vary drastically from person to person, but one thing will stay the same, they are all incredibly difficult to deal with in one way or another. Although hallucinations can be greatly varied, there are some which appear to be more common than others, which is what I am going to write about in this article. However, I want to make an important statement to verify that you do not have to experience any of the following or similar hallucinations to qualify as psychotic or mentally ill. Your hallucinations and your illness will always remain valid, regardless of the commonness of your symptoms.

The following are what I believe to be the most common hallucinations that individuals with psychosis experience.

Visual Hallucinations

Shadow People

The most common and well known hallucination experienced by individuals with psychosis is the apparent appearance of shadow people. The shadow people can appear anywhere, sometimes they may appear as a typical shadow against the surface of objects such as the walls and floors, or they can present themselves as actual shadow beings, existing in a three dimensional world just like the rest of us. It is also common for them to follow the individual who is experiencing the hallucination, which can cause a large amount of distress.

Morphing Shadows

Another common visual hallucination that sticks with the shadow theme, is the hallucination of shadows morphing and turning into objects or people that are not really there. These shadows may appear out of nowhere, or they may morph from already existing shadows.

Audible Hallucinations

Voices

Not only is hearing voices the most common audible hallucination, but also the most common hallucination in general. This hallucination is when an individual hears a voice or voices which are not the result of external stimuli.  These voices are typically of a critical and negative nature, and can be extremely difficult to live with. This type of hallucination becomes most dangerous when the voice or voices begin commanding the individual to perform certain tasks, which may cause harm to the individual or those around them.

Footsteps

Many people who experience psychosis may hear footsteps when no one is actually present. This hallucination may occur when one is walking, sounding as if a person is walking behind them. Others may hear footsteps when they are idle. This hallucination can occur at any given time, and it can cause a vast amount of paranoia as the affected individual may believe they are being followed by a person for sinister reasons, which is not the case, although it would appear very real to the individual at the time.

Music

Musical hallucinations are actually as uncommon as they are frustrating; yet they still deserve a mention in this list, as I have found them to be quite common amongst those with a chronic psychotic disorder. An individual may hear various genres of music, including those they strongly dislike. Others may only hear an instrument or a certain combination of instruments. This hallucination may be constant or come and go at different times.

Physical Objects Banging/Moving

Another common hallucination is the sound of windows and doors banging, or just physical objects moving, often in a rather aggressive manner. This type of hallucination can be particularly frightening as it can cause an individual to believe that there is either an intruder in the home, or some form of paranormal activity occurring; which is incorrect in each case.

Tactile Hallucinations (External)

Crawling Feeling On or Under Skin

This hallucination is typically common amongst users of hard drugs such as crack cocaine and methamphetamine, although, anyone with a form of psychosis can experience this delusion. The crawling sensation often leads the individual who is experiencing the hallucination to believe that there are bugs on or under their skin. This hallucination can become dangerous as many people who have experienced this hallucination will scratch at their skin until they bleed, whereas others may even go to the lengths of a more severe form of self-mutilation in order to remove the bugs.

Visceral Hallucinations (Internal)

Movement of Internal Organs

During this type of hallucination an individual will experience the feeling of their internal organs moving. This may mean experiencing the sensation that an organ is moving around your body, the feeling that the organ is palpitating, that pressure is being applied to that organ, or the feeling that it is being stretched. This may cause extreme distress to an individual, or cause them to self-mutilate. Therefore this type of hallucination does have the possibility of being dangerous for the individual.

Olfactory Hallucinations

An olfactory hallucination is when an individual can smell something which does not really exist within the present environment. The odours detected may vary greatly from person to person. Olfactory hallucinations are typically unpleasant as many describe, however this is not always the case. As they differ so greatly, there would be no common ones to identify, other than those which are unpleasant. Olfactory hallucinations tend to be less common that both visual and audible hallucinations, but once again this may differ from person to person.

Overall, this should provide you with a good idea of what people with psychosis experience, and why these hallucinations could make day to day life very difficult, as well as put them in danger. If you or someone you know has experienced any of the hallucinations above and you are not receiving treatment, please seek professional help immediately.

Self-Harm

Self-harm is when an individual intentionally injures themselves as a way of coping with or expressing distressing emotions such as sadness, anger and stress. There are many types of self-harm and due to this some individuals who are self-harming may go unnoticed. Self-harm is typically physical, such as cutting yourself. However, they it can be far less obvious; not looking after your own physical and emotional needs, or purposely putting yourself in risky or dangerous situations are also types of self-harm. In some cases, an individual who uses self-harm as a coping method feels that they intend to die when they act out this behaviour to some degree. However, the usual intention is to punish themselves, cope and express the distress they are feeling, as well as to relieve the way they are feeling. It is often a mixture of these reasons that a person will choose to self-harm.

Ways in which self-harm may present itself includes:

  • Cutting yourself
  • Burning your skin
  • Hitting or punching yourself or your surroundings
  • Scratching and hair pulling
  • Overdosing
  • Poisoning yourself
  • Inserting objects into your body
  • Over eating or under eating
  • Exercising excessively

When an individual self-harms, they will usually feel at least somewhat better immediately after the behaviour has occurred. In the long term, self-harm can cause negative feelings to arise, such as regret, disgust, embarrassment and shame. Those who self-harm often go out of their way to hide their behaviour due to the shame associated with self-harm or the fear of discovery. The common worry is that you will be judged for your self-harm or be pressured to stop by those around you, this isn’t always a shared belief but it is certainly very common; as a result most people will hide their self-harm to their best ability.

Although those who self-harm may hide their behaviour, there are signs to look out for which can allow you to spot self-harming behaviour in an individual. These include:

  • Keeping their bodies fully covered, even during hot weather
  • Unexplained cuts, bruises, or burns (often located on the wrists, arms, thighs or torso)
  • Signs of depression
  • Suicidal thoughts/ideation
  • Becoming withdrawn and isolating themselves
  • Self-loathing and expressing a wish to punish themselves
  • Change in eating or sleeping habits
  • Signs of hair loss (through pulling)
  • Signs of alcohol or drug misuse

It’s important to remember that those who self-harm could seriously injure themselves or possibly end their lives, therefore if any of the previous behaviour is noticed in an individual, it is important to approach the subject with care and understanding, in order to ensure they get the help they need.

Why do People Self-Harm?

People may self-harm for a multitude of different reasons, and self-harm is far more common than people realise. It is estimated that 10% of younger people self-harm at some point, which is likely to be an underestimate due to the fact that many individuals who self-harm go undetected, though a person of any age may self-harm.

Self-harm is often a way of dealing with emotional distress caused by a variety of things, the most common being:

  • Bullying
  • Sexual, physical or emotional abuse
  • An illness or health problem
  • Money issues
  • Pressures from school or work
  • Bereavement
  • Confusion about sexuality or gender identity
  • Break down of relationships or friendships
  • Difficult and distressing feelings such as depression, anger, apathy, anxiety, or stress

Not all people who self-harm will know exactly why they are self-harming, and that is perfectly normal. You do not need to know why you self-harm to ask for help and support.

Help and Support Available for People who Self Harm

When a person self-harms, it can often go unnoticed for a long time, which makes it more difficult to treat the individual as self-harm can quite easily become an addiction. If you or anyone you know is beginning to self-harm, it is best to get help immediately.

Reducing and ceasing self-harming behaviour can be a difficult and long process, but it is important to remember that it is just that, a process. The road to recovery is not going to be easy, and you may find that you relapse to your old behaviours, which is perfectly okay, as it is a part of the process. If you feel that you cannot stop self-harming entirely, work out ways that will help you to reduce the amount you self-harm, which will make it far easier to stop doing in the future.

In order to reduce and cease self-harming behaviour, it is a good idea to work out your self-harming patterns which can also help you work out your triggers. This way you can avoid situations and circumstances which will make you feel the need to self-harm. After this, you need to identify how you experience the urge to self-harm. Urges can come in many different forms, these include:

  • Physical sensations
  • Strong emotions, such as fear, anger or despair
  • Specific thoughts such as “I’m going to cut”, “Hurt” or “Pain”
  • Making decisions which are not good for your wellbeing
  • Disconnecting with yourself

If you are able to recognise these urges, you can take steps forward by reducing and stopping your self-harm.

When you begin to feel an urge to self-harm, you should quickly distract yourself by doing something else. I personally find it is best to use something creative, such as writing, drawing, painting or any other form of art. If you want to use art as a way to reduce or stop your self-harm, I previously wrote an article on coping with mental illness through Art Therapy. Music can also be extremely helpful in these situations. You can also use alternatives to self-harm such as hitting a pillow or drawing on your skin.

Although you can use these methods to help yourself, it is very important to consider professional help. Professional help will ensure you get the right treatment for you, as well as work through any other issues you’re having which may be causing you to self-harm. Usually Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is recommended for people who self-harm. During a CBT session you would talk about your thoughts and feelings and how they affect your behaviour and your wellbeing. Evidence does suggest that these treatments can be effective in the long-term for those who have self-harmed.

It is okay to talk about self-harm. Reach out, help is available, and you can find support from many different places. Recovery is a journey that you can take.

Psychosis

Psychosis is a mental health problem which causes impairment in both thoughts and emotions making the sufferer lose contact with reality. Although the sufferer loses contact with reality, what occurs during this experience is very real to that individual. Psychosis is triggered by other conditions, such as schizophrenia, bipolar, and schizoaffective disorder. However, it is a symptom of many different mental illnesses which can make it difficult to identify which condition the said individual is suffering from. Symptoms of psychosis may also appear if an individual has used a substance such as alcohol, stimulants and psychedelics. However these symptoms tend to cease once the consumption of the substance stops. Some people may only experience one psychotic episode in their life time, but for others it can be a chronic and reoccurring condition.

Psychotic Episodes

Causes

There are many different triggers and factors that can cause psychotic episodes. The most common is other mental health conditions and substance abuse. Although, factors such as simple as stress can also cause a psychotic episode. Other triggers that can cause psychotic episodes are traumatic experiences, physical conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease and brain tumours.

Symptoms of Psychosis

The most identifiable and main symptoms of psychosis are hallucinations and delusions. There are many different types of delusions and hallucinations which I have gone into detail over in a previous article called The Positive and Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia: In Detail. Delusions and hallucinations can severely disrupt an individual’s thoughts, emotion, behaviour, and perception. This can make day to day life extremely difficult for those suffering from psychosis.

When an individual experiences psychosis, they will have their own unique experience and set of symptoms as psychosis effects each individual differently. An example of this is those who suffer from psychosis in third world countries often experience positive hallucinations and delusions which are uplifting rather than frightening, whereas in the western world hallucinations and delusions are typically of a negative stance.

Psychotic episodes can last for any duration of time, and those episodes which are severe enough often end in the individual being hospitalized in order to stabilize them before they are release. The duration and how often an individual experiences psychosis for often depends on the underlying cause of the psychotic episode.

Treating Psychosis

There are a few different methods used to treat psychosis. An immediate intervention is typically the use of antipsychotic medication, however, this is very much trial and error as medication effects each individual differently and those who find a medication that works for them, may not work for other people.

As previously said, hospitalization is a common treatment for psychosis.

In the long term, it is important for the individual to recognize what triggers a psychotic episode, so they can be prevented. However, this does not always work as psychosis is a very complicated issue which can leave the said person with a lack of insight, making them unaware of the fact that they are currently experiencing psychosis.

Psychological therapy such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) can also be used in treating and preventing psychosis from reoccurring. Family therapy is also a useful tool as it decreases the chance of the individual needing to be hospitalized as their family now know how to cope with and help treat the psychosis.

Social support is another factor in treating psychosis, this can include things such as accommodation, work, education and any other social needs.

The Misconceptions of Schizoaffective Disorder

There are many misconceptions about schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar. This is due to the lack of education surrounding mental health. Many of these misconceptions can increase the level of stigma which people suffering from these illnesses are exposed to. Therefore it is important to address these misconceptions.

Misconception #1

Schizophrenia is dissociative identity disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder).

Dissociate identity disorder (DID) is characterized by at least two separate and distinct personalities or split identities in a person. People suffering from DID may experience psychotic symptoms, but it is in no way related to schizophrenia. The majority of people suffering from DID refer to their other identities or personalities as their alters; each has their own age, sex, race, gender as well as their own postures, gestures, and distinct way of talking.

Misconception #2

People with schizophrenia are violent.

This is one of the most common misconceptions, which I believe to be the result of the stigma that is produced by the media in the way which people with schizophrenia are portrayed. People with schizophrenia are no more or less prone to violence than those without the disorder. However, delusions and hallucinations can cause a person to become extremely frightened and distressed, resulting in abstract behaviour; not necessarily violent behaviour.

Misconception #3

Schizophrenia is untreatable.

Although there is no cure for schizophrenia, it can be managed effectively through the use of medication and a wide range of therapy.

Misconception #4

People with schizophrenia can’t live productive and fulfilling lives.

As stated above, schizophrenia can be managed effectively, and those suffering from the illness can continue to lead productive and fulfilling lives. Although it can make leading a ‘normal’ life quite challenging, it is still possible for those suffering from the illness to attend school or work, have a family and a social life.

Misconception #5

The effects of antipsychotic medication is worse than the illness itself.

Antipsychotic medication can cause negative side effects, however, they are very good at treating psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Modern antipsychotics aim to minimise the negative side effects of the medication whilst still being effective to treat the disorder. Certain medications won’t work for certain people, it is often the case of trying to find the right one for the said person.

Misconception #6

Bipolar disorder is just another name for mood swings.

The mood swings associated with bipolar are tremendously different to those experienced in people without the disorder.

Misconception #7

During a manic episode, the person suffering from bipolar is very happy and euphoric.

Happiness and euphoria can be experienced during a manic episode, however, anger, agitation and irritability can also be experienced during a manic episode.

Misconception #8

People with bipolar change rapidly between mania and depression.

Although this can be the case for some, which is known as ‘rapid cycling’, people with bipolar can experience both long lasting depression and mania.

Misconception #9

Schizoaffective disorder is the same as schizophrenia.

Schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia are two separate illnesses. Schizoaffective disorder is characterized by having both symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia present together.

Paranoia or Intuition?

Lately, I have found it to be extremely difficult to differentiate between the two. Personally, I think a little paranoia is always a good thing, however, when it gets to the point that it is debilitating, it is far from being a good thing.

I’ve never had an experience where my intuition has been wrong, therefore I have relied on my intuition in many situations, and still do. My intuition has saved myself from many sticky situations, and got me out of the wrong places at just the right time to avoid consequence. When I’ve ignored my intuition, I’ve ended up in some pretty bad places. This makes my paranoia all that more worse; it can be almost impossible to tell when I’m being intuitive, or just straight up paranoid.

The Differences between Paranoia and Intuition

Intuition is the ability to understand or foreshadow something instinctively, without the use of conscious reasoning. Whereas paranoia is unjustified suspicion, and the mistrust of other people.

Intuition tends to come from a non-emotional neutral position, and often inspires a person to take action. Intuition quite often will not make sense, however, it will feel right; or wrong, depending on the situation you are in. The feeling of intuition typically persists.

Paranoia often comes from a negative emotion such as fear, anger or sadness, which often instigates a reaction of the said person, rather than compelling them to take action about whatever it is they are currently worrying about. Paranoia can come in waves; you may be extremely paranoid one day, and see how ridiculous it was the next.

 

These are the greatest differences I have found between the two, however, this does not stop the line from being blurred; especially when you suffer from a mental disorder in which paranoia can become crippling so to speak. At times, every glance, every word you hear, will all hold some significant meaning, which will seem very real at the time. Hallucinations may also add to the paranoia, particularly auditory hallucinations. Hearing voices telling you that yes, these people are following you, can be absolutely terrifying.

Paranoia is intuitions ugly sister, and when she hits, she hits hard.

Disorganized Thoughts and Behaviour

Disorganized thoughts are something I’ve been struggling a lot with lately; making it increasingly difficult to write, communicate, or do anything for that matter.

What are Disorganized Thoughts?

When a person is experiencing disorganized thinking it can be extremely difficult to concentrate as thoughts can come and go rapidly. Resulting in the person being easily distracted and unable to focus. At times, thoughts cannot be organized into logical sequences, therefore making the thoughts become disorganized and fragmented.

Disorganized thinking becomes noticeable to others during conversation. This is because those affected by disorganized thinking will often lose their train of thought during conversations, or they may jump from subject to subject at random even when the subjects are not associated with each other, as well as speech becoming that disorganized that it may not make sense at all.

What is Disorganized Behaviour?

There are four key noticeable areas when looking at disorganized behaviour. These include a decline in daily functioning, a lack of inhibition and impulse control, unpredictable or inappropriate emotional responses, and behaviour that appears to be bizarre or have no real purpose. However, the range of severity of disorganized behaviour can be drastic. Whereas disorganized behaviour can involve a neglect of self-care behaviours, it can also include things such as not dressing according to the weather, or they may continuously mutter to themselves. With disorganized behaviour almost anything is possible.

A decline in daily functioning may cause the person to become unhygienic, stop eating or drinking and such behaviours; rendering them unable to look after themselves. A lack of inhibition and impulse control can lead to dangerous or risk taking behaviours, which can threaten the affected person’s safety.  Unpredictable and inappropriate emotional responses may cause the person to appear happy when receiving bad news, and seem sad when receiving good news. This can affect the person’s relationships with others as they may appear to be rude and arrogant, when this is not the case. Bizarre behaviour, or behaviour with no real purpose can include almost anything; such as any of the things that were previously mentioned (continuously muttering to themselves).

Coping with Disorganized Thoughts and Behaviour

Coping with disorganized thoughts and behaviour can be particularly difficult as well as distressing for the affected person. It also comes with the obstacle of a lack of insight, making us unaware as to what is really going on. This can also lead to isolation if others do not respond well to the way we are currently behaving. Therefore I do not have any methods of coping with disorganized thoughts and behaviour, other than mindfulness meditation. I previously mentioned this in another article; mindfulness meditation allows the affected person to deal with their thoughts and feelings in a healthier way. Furthermore, the more mindfulness meditation is practised, the more effective it will become.