#YouMatter: Understanding Psychotic Disorder

By Nazifa Ramailan

GOMBAK, 2 August 2021: Mental health issue is no longer an uncommon matter among us especially following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

In a session of #YouMatter series held last Thursday (29 July), the speakers invited were Miss Elhaslina, Dr. Ahmad Nabil and Miss Madihah Fuad to discuss one of mental illnesses, psychotic disorder.

According to Dr. Nabil, psychotic disorder happens when one has symptoms of hallucination and illusion. Hallucination, which is often associated with perception, may occur through hearing in which a psychotic patient hears audible or unfathomable voices inside them.

On top of that, visual hallucination occurs when the psychotic person sees someone who does not actually exist and is invisible to others. Dr. Nabil also highlighted that hallucination may happen through smell, taste as well as touch.

The latter symptom of psychotic disorder, illusion, involves believing something deceptive and untrue. He added that people who suffer from psychotic disorder may have absurd beliefs about themselves, such as believing that they have superpower or even worse, they are the messengers.

In psychiatry, an individual may develop psychosis when the person was born with schizophrenia genetic and involves other environmental factors. Taking drugs will lead to psychotic disorder as well as the drugs enhance psychotic episodes in an individual.

According to statistics, psychosis that happens as a result of schizophrenia genetics can be detected in teenage years. Among the common early symptoms of psychosis are poor academic performance, losing interest in everything and they may show early signs of depression before it reaches full-blown psychosis.

Dr. Nabil also emphasised that people who suffer from mental illness are able to enrol into universities and excel in their studies. “Societies have to cease in believing the stigma that those with mental health crises are incapable of doing anything,” he added. In fact, he said, they have the potential of recovery and the capability to control the symptoms from dominating themselves.

Elhaslina, the Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and a psychosis survivor, portrayed her agreement with Dr Nabil’s explanations by sharing her experience and personal journey in dealing with her mental illnesses. She was diagnosed with MDD and psychosis after years of struggling with the symptoms.

She added: “Even before I was diagnosed with MDD and psychosis, I have been hallucinating and seeing things that are unable to be seen by other people.” However, she mentioned that the medications prescribed by her doctors have helped to reduce the symptoms apparently.

“Having strong support systems and surrounding myself with positivity back then helped me to reckon the symptoms of psychosis,” El said. She also learned to seek and accept advices from her trustworthy friends to brace herself up.

Another mental health survivor, Madihah Fuad, who is also the founder of PlusVibes, an application which helps mental illness victims to seek advices from the experts anonymously. She emphasised how difficult it was to juggle between studying and overcoming her mental illnesses.

In order to improve her academic performance, she adapted the learning style to her own capability. “Focusing on my passion, having perseverance and prayers are the main contributing factors of my achievements back then,” Madihah said.

She also added that without passion, one would not be happy with what he or she is doing and consequently, one will lose interest and may give up easily. Madihah also mentioned that prayer is the form of medication which helped her to become more positive in dealing with her mental illnesses.

According to Madihah, there are two major ways to stop the stigma towards mental health, which are by raising awareness, and understanding the victims of mental illnesses.

The best means to create and spread awareness of mental health issues is by communication. This is because, when the mental illness sufferers share their struggles with other people, societies can understand mental health issues better.

Besides, allowing the mental health victims to reach out and seek help will apparently make them feel better as it portrays that they are not alone. She added: “People should understand that having depression, anxiety and stress are normal these days due to higher competition.”

Madiha’s struggles in handling her mental crisis have led her to develop PlusVibes application as she strongly believes that the victims deserve to get help and recover. As a person who used to face difficulties in seeking help, she wanted the other victims to have accessibility to get help easily.

Furthermore, she highlighted that the best ways to advocate about mental health to the public are by understanding those who suffer from mental health issues, knowing the correct techniques to deal with them, and knowing who the victims can reach out to.

Dr. Nabil shared a few tips on how the university can help the students who have been struggling with mental health illness.

“There should be n discrimination to those who suffer from mental health issues,” he said. Instead of relying on the doctors only, he called on the university administration to spread the awareness and deliver basic psychological support, at least at the basic level to those who are affected.

The university must help the students to get treatment from the experts if needed. Moreover, since most classes are conducted virtually, lecturers have to be considerate towards the students during this tough time.

As stated by Dr. Nabil, health covers four domains; physical/biological, psychological, social and spiritual.

In order to prevent ourselves from getting mental illnesses, we have to watch what we eat. Those who take recreational drugs and eat excessively are more likely to develop psychosis and depression.

In terms of psychological and spiritual, we are encouraged to always think positively. Dr. Nabil further added: “However, we cannot get too attached to the outcomes as those are beyond our control. In the end, we will get frustrated if things do not go the way we planned.”

Last but not least, be selective and surround ourselves with positive people. Socialising with supportive circles will enhance one’s mindset and will ease them to get help.

Before the talk ended, a short Q & A session was held to give the audiences the opportunity to ask their questions to the speakers of this event. A short film was also played during the commercial break to educate the audiences regarding mental health issues.

This event saw a collaboration between IIUMtv, Council of Principals (COPS), Counselling and Carrier Services Centre (CCSC), IIUM.fm, IIUMToday, Secretariat of Psychology (PSYCSTA), Kulliyyah of Language Management and Students’ Society (KLMSS), Allied Health Science Students’ Society (HEALS), Bachelor of Education Students’ Society (BEDSA) and Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences Students’ Society (IRKHSSS).

It was held on Facebook Live and YouTube IIUMtv platforms, with over 70 participants attending the talk.***

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