Disability insurance carriers often challenge a diagnosis of psychosis. How can disability insurance attorneys Dell & Schaefer assist you?
As disability attorneys, Dell & Schaefer have represented numerous long term disability claimants that have been unable to work as a result of psychosis and other mental nervous conditions. Disability Attorneys Dell & Schaefer have an expansive understanding of the significant restrictions and limitations that a person suffering with psychosis must live with on a daily basis. We have worked closely with top physicians in order to sufficiently satisfy a disability carrier’s threshold of evidence necessary to prove that a client is disabled by psychosis.
Not everyone suffering from psychosis qualifies for long-term disability benefits, therefore the medical records of each client must be reviewed to determine the level of restrictions. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your long-term disability claim. You can contact us for a free initial consultation.
A person who is suffering from psychosis can have problems recognizing what is real and can have difficulty thinking clearly as they normally would. When someone is affected in this way they may have unusual or strange ideas (delusions), they may hear or see things which are not real (hallucinations) and they may have emotional changes. They may also have difficulties organizing their thoughts so that their speech may seem disorganized and illogical at times. Psychosis has also been described as a condition that causes a person to lose contact with reality. Psychosis can severely disrupt a person’s life. The person experiencing psychosis may have difficulty maintaining their usual level of functioning in school, work or home life and it can also interfere with a person’s normal development.
When someone experiences psychosis for the first time, it can be difficult to make an exact diagnosis, because many of the factors underlying the illness may be unclear.
Below are some of the diagnostic labels you may hear regarding the types of psychosis a person may be diagnosed with:
- Drug induced psychosis. Using or withdrawing from drugs and alcohol can cause psychotic symptoms. Sometimes these symptoms will rapidly disappear as the substance wears off. In other cases, the illness may last longer, but begin with drug-induced psychosis.
- Organic psychosis. Psychotic symptoms may appear to due to a head injury or a physical illness that disrupts the brain functioning, such as encephalitis, AIDS or a tumor. There are usually other symptoms present, such as memory problems or confusion.
- Brief reactive psychosis. Psychotic symptoms may arise suddenly in response to a major stress in someone’s life, such as a death in the family or other important change of circumstances. Symptoms can be severe, but the person makes a quick recovery in only a few days.
- Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia refers to an illness in which the changes of behavior or symptoms have been present for a period of at least 6 months. Again, symptoms, severity and length of illness vary from person to person. Contrary to previous beliefs, schizophrenia is a fairly common illness (one in 100), and many people with schizophrenia lead happy and fulfilling lives.
- Schizophreniform disorder. This diagnosis is usually given when symptoms have lasted for less than 6 months.
- Bipolar disorder (manic depression). Bipolar disorder is a ‘mood disorder’. Psychotic symptoms can appear as part of a more general disturbance in mood, which is characterized by extreme highs (mania) and lows (depression). Psychotic symptoms tend to fit with the person’s mood. If they are usually excited or happy, they may believe they are special and can perform amazing feats. If they are depressed, they may hear voices telling them to commit suicide. Not everyone who has bipolar disorder experiences psychotic symptoms. See our discussion on bipolar disorder.
- Psychotic depression. Also a ‘mood disorder’. This is severe clinical depression with psychotic symptoms but without periods of mania or ‘highs’ occurring during the illness.
- Schizoaffective disorder. This diagnosis is made when the clinical picture is not ‘typical’ of either a mood disorder or schizophrenia, but the person has concurrent or consecutive symptoms of both illnesses.
The exact cause of psychotic disorders is unknown. Many experts think that these disorders develop because the brain overreacts to certain substances that carry messages between nerves (neurotransmitters) in the brain. Heredity may play a part as well, because some psychotic disorders, especially schizophrenia, tend to run in families.
How the symptoms of psychosis can affect you
Psychosis typically develops gradually over a period of time. Sometimes psychosis starts suddenly, but this is highly uncommon. Psychosis usually occurs in three phases.
The first phase of psychosis involves early warning signs. Psychosis usually develops in late adolescence or early adulthood. Since adolescence is a time of change for a young person, it can be difficult to recognize the difference between changes that are happening through course of normal development and changes that occur because of psychosis developing. However, there are common early warning signs that may happen before a first episode of psychosis. These changes can last for months and each persons experience will differ. The early warning signs of psychosis may include; a inability to concentrate, reduced motivation, depression, insomnia, anxiety, social withdrawal, suspiciousness, deterioration in role functioning, and irritability.
The acute phase is when the symptoms of psychosis begin to emerge. It is during this stage that the symptoms of psychosis are most apparent.
A person may begin to harbor false beliefs. These are strong beliefs or ideas which are not real to others. These beliefs are usually fixed and the person has difficulty believing they are not true despite evidence to the contrary. An example of this would be a person believing they have special powers, thinking they are being followed or having a sense that they are being communicated with through TV or the radio.
Hallucinations involve the five senses and affect the way in which a person interprets the world around them. When a psychotic episode occurs the senses are disrupted, a person may see things which aren’t there, hear things which aren’t there and even taste, smell and feel things, which aren’t there. An example of this is hearing voices when there is nobody else around.
When a person experiences psychosis their thoughts can become confused, it can be difficult to have a conversation with someone when this is happening because their speech can be confused and disorganized. Sometimes the person feels as though their thoughts are racing or are slowed down.
It is often the changes in people’s behavior during an episode of psychosis that draws attention to the fact that they are unwell. The person may have difficulty performing usual activities like schoolwork, their job or hobbies. They may become more socially withdrawn or isolated. It is also possible that a person can become overactive or behave in a way that is highly unusual for them. For instance, they may begin to engage in illegal activity such as using illicit substances or get into physical altercations with others.
Some of the symptoms that are apparent in the acute phase may linger through the recovery phase but with appropriate treatment most people successfully recover and return to their normal, everyday lives.
There are many valuable sources of pychosis information available. You can also access resources over the internet such as:
- Medline Plus (a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health)
There are numerous charities dedicated to psychosis research, detection and treatment including: