Tracy Bray introduced our two speakers, they are part of the Heads Up Early Psychosis Intervention Program in Kingston.  Tammy Zimmerman has been a registered nurse for 25 years.  She has worked with elderly patients with early onset Alzheimer’s.  Sharlene Weitzmann is a social worker who also helps with the program. They appreciated being thought of to come to speak today.  Psychosis can be debilitating.  The goal for their program is reaching people at the very first episode and helping them.  They have a whole team of people on staff from occupational therapists, social workers, and registered nurses.
Psychosis comes in many forms.  Psychosis can lead to changes in mood and thinking and to abnormal ideas.  In order to try and understand the experience of psychosis it is useful to group together some of the more characteristic symptoms.  Confused thinking, false beliefs, hallucinations, changed feelings, changed behavior.  We’ve all had that day or moment where we have felt disorganized, scattered thoughts and speech.  Your mind wondered off and you couldn’t remember what you were doing.  That is what psychosis feels like every day.  It extends to losing general interest in the things they care about. Belleville has been seen as a high area of need due to the increase in the cannabis dispensaries.  Purchases are not monitored nor how it is used.  This all plays a factor in the brain.  The brain has not fully developed until age 25.  Having kids trying cannabis at age 14 and continuously using it will have a different effect on someone who is over 25.  Your brain is still trying to build roadmaps and connections.  Have an unmonitored teenager taking it for recreational use is doing damage to those key roadmaps.  Young brains need to be nurtured and looked after.  Strengths of cannabis is not the same as what was taken 20 – 40 years ago, science has become more involved as well as other dangerous items, one being fentanyl.  Judgement skills are still being developed in the teenage years and are not fully developed until age 25.  Early intervention is key.   
What are some of the types of psychosis?  Drug-induced psychosis.  Use of or withdrawal from alcohol and drugs can be associated with the appearance of psychotic symptoms.  Organic Psychosis.  Sometimes psychotic symptoms may appear as part of a head injury or a physical illness which disrupts brain functioning.  Brief Reactive Psychosis. Psychotic symptoms arise suddenly in response to a major stress in the person's life, such as a death in the family or change of living circumstances.  Delusional Disorder.  In delusional disorder the main symptom is a firmly held belief in things that are not true.  Schizophrenia.  Schizophrenia refers to a psychotic illness in which the changes in behavior or symptoms have been continuing for a period of at least six months.  Schizophreniform disorder.  This is similar to schizophrenia except that the symptoms have lasted for less than six months.  Bipolar Disorder.  In bipolar disorder, psychosis appears as part of a more general disturbance in mood, in which mood is characterized by extreme highs and lows in mood.
Jennifer Savini thanked Tammy and Sharlene for coming to speak to us.  The information provided was very informative, and we learned a lot.