Maintaing a sound level of mental and emotional patient health
Written by Jane Miller
Psychosis is a dangerous symptom that may indicate a serious mental disease. The signs of psychosis are often subtle, particularly in the early stages. If you think that you notice these indicators in yourself or someone you know, it’s important to make a note of them and act appropriately as soon as possible.Withdrawal from Ordinary Activities
Withdrawal from everyday activities and social situations is one of the early signs of psychosis. People often stop attending social events, preferring to seclude themselves. They may also withdraw from school and work, in some cases failing to show up entirely.
In teenagers, a sudden and inexplicable decline in grades and extracurricular participation is a major warning sign. Adults may act strangely at work with a distinct change in performance. Though these signs don't always indicate psychosis, you shouldn’t ignore them. They may also indicate depression or another problem.Changes in Appearance
The early stages of psychosis may result in a marked change in the person’s appearance. He or she may begin to neglect personal hygiene, appearing disheveled and poorly groomed. Loss of appetite is another early warning sign. This could result in unexplained weight loss. The person may also appear tired, as sleep disturbances are another common warning sign of psychosis.
If an otherwise well-groomed person suddenly stops taking care of himself or herself, you should take note of this behavior and consider it a major warning sign of some kind of problem.Emotional Changes
In addition to social withdrawal, you may notice other behavioral changes that can indicate early psychosis. Someone who is developing psychosis may seem paranoid, suspicious, and nervous. They often experience problems handling stress. They may appear depressed or express emotions much less than usual. In fact, the person may find that he or she has no feelings at all. This sudden blankness is a major symptom of developing psychosis. Difficulty concentrating or performing basic tasks is another significant warning sign.Signs of Delusions
Someone with psychosis will often experience delusions. They may claim to see, hear, or smell things that you can't. Another sign of psychosis is a belief in things that are untrue. For example, someone with psychosis may think that they’re being followed. Psychotic delusions are often very paranoid, and may involve the idea that others can hear the person’s thoughts or always see the person’s actions.
Someone with psychosis may make up entirely new words and speak in what seems like gibberish. He or she will experience new ideas with unusual fervor. These strange ideas will often seem impossible to a rational individual, but the person with psychosis will remain steadfastly convinced of their reality. One of the defining signs of psychosis is that the person won't change his or her thinking even when presented with evidence to the contrary.Unusual Thoughts and Feelings
Many warning signs of psychosis are only recognizable to the person who is experiencing them. If you’re developing psychosis, you may begin to hear voices or see things that others can’t hear and see. Sounds may seem louder than usual. The world around you could suddenly change, with brighter colors and confusing new ideas and meanings occurring in everyday places. Your thoughts may suddenly seem very disorganized. You may have trouble focusing on them or making sense of them. Everyday activities could suddenly seem very difficult.What to Do
If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of psychosis, it’s important to get professional help. Psychosis can become very severe if left untreated, even prompting suicide. Psychosis isn't itself a diagnosis, but rather a symptom of a deeper problem. Psychosis often indicates a condition such as bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia.
A doctor can help you control this symptom with medications, such as quetiapine. If you're prescribed this medication, it’s important to buy quetiapine well ahead of the time you'll need it to make sure that you never run out.
Pay close attention to strange behaviors in those around you and seek help any time you see something suspicious. Your assistance could help save someone’s life.
Jane Miller is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything from tech to mommy stuff. She is featured in many blogs as a guest writer, and can write with authority on any niche or subject.
How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats
One of the most fundamental lessons from the COVID crisis is that health should always be a priority. In a similar fashion to the human body that frequently fights off viruses and foreign invaders that intend to cause it harm, the sector itself is now a prime target for another type of external threat: cyberattacks.
The figures speak for themselves: between December and January this year, hospitals in the UK were at 89% capacity, with 7,000 fewer available beds than there usually are. As the pandemic increased pressure on hospitals, clinics, and research facilities to create a treatment for patients globally, it has left the sector exposed to hackers who, like a virus, have been targeting it relentlessly and evolving their tactics.
From patient records being held ransom, to fake emails claiming to originate from the UN WHO, the NHS, or vaccine centres, through to attacks on the cold supply chain to find out the secret formula of the COVID vaccine, the healthcare industry is facing constant cyberattacks and struggling to cope. This threat is unlikely to go away anytime soon – and as such, the industry needs to take a proactive, preventative stance to stay safe in a dynamic digital world.
The responsive nature of healthcare – particularly of hospitals – means that efficiency is crucial to the industry’s standard operations. To support this, the sector has been embracing technological advancements that can improve the quality of work, enabling staff to meet pressing deadlines, and enhancing patient care. For example, the industry has been digitising records and improving its ways of working through digital means over the past few years.
This shift is critical to offer high quality patient care; yet, it also means the sector has become more dependent on IT, which can come with a risk if cybersecurity processes employed are deemed as inadequate.
Without the correct security measures in place, the desired efficiency gains realised, can be easily lost in a heartbeat. Simply put, an elementary glitch in the system can have a tremendous ripple effect on many areas, from accessing patient records and conducting scans, to maintaining physical security and protecting the intellectual property of experimental treatment development.
To prevent this, healthcare organisations need to ensure they’re considering cybersecurity as part of their overall digital transformation strategy – and setting the right foundations to create a culture where safety goes hand in hand with patient care.
Before implementing cybersecurity process, healthcare organisations need to assess the potential risks they face. Depending on how much confidential data the trust has, where it is stored, who has access to it and via which means, the cybersecurity strategy and associated solutions will change.
It’s fair to say that a medical device start-up where all employees have a corporate-sanctioned laptop and access data via a VPN will have radically different needs to a large hospital with hundreds of frontline workers connecting to the hospital’s Wi-Fi using their personal device.
These requirements will pale by comparison to a global pharmaceutical giant with offices in multiple locations, a large R&D department researching new treatments for complex diseases and a fully integrated supply chain. Considering the existing setup and what the organisations is looking to achieve with its digital transformation strategy will therefore have an immediate impact on the cybersecurity strategy.
Despite this, there are fundamentals that any organisation should implement:
Review and test your back-up policy to ensure it is thorough and sufficient – By checking that the organisation’s back-up is running smoothly, IT teams can limit any risks of disruption in the midst of an incident and of losing data permanently.
In our recent State of Email Security report, we found that six out of ten organisations have been victims of ransomware in 2020. As a result, afflicted organisations have lost an average of six days to downtime. One third of organisations even admitted that they failed to get their data back, despite paying the ransom. In the healthcare industry, this could mean losing valuable patient records or data related to new treatments – two areas the sector cannot afford to be cavalier about.
Conduct due diligence across the organisation’s supply chain – Healthcare organisations should review their ways of working with partners, providers and regulatory institutions they work with in order to prevent any weak link in their cybersecurity chain. Without this due diligence, organisations leave themselves exposed to the risks of third party-led incidents.
Roll out mandatory cybersecurity awareness training - Healthcare organisations shouldn’t neglect the training and awareness of their entire staff – including frontline workers who may not access the corporate network on a regular basis. According to our State of Email Security report, only one fifth of organisations carry out ongoing cyber awareness training.
This suggests it is not widely considered as a fundamental part of most organisations cyber-resilience strategy, despite the fact many employees rely on their organisation’s corporate network to work. By providing systematic training, healthcare organisations can help workers at all levels better understand the current cyberthreats they face, how they could impact their organisation, the role they play in defending the networks, and develop consistent, good cybersecurity hygiene habits to limit the risks of incidents.
Consider a degree of separation – Information and Operational Technology (IT and OT) networks should be separated.
Although mutually supported and reliance on each other, employees shouldn’t be accessing one via the other. This should be complemented by a considered tried and tested contingency and resiliency plan that allows crucial services to function unabated should there be a compromise. Similarly, admin terminals should not have internet access to afford a degree of hardening and protection for these critical accounts.
As the sector becomes a common target for fraudulent and malicious activity, putting cybersecurity at the core of the organisation’s operations is critical. It will help limit the risks of disruption due to cyberattacks, reduce time spent by the cybersecurity team to resolve easily avoidable errors, and ensure that institutions can deliver patient care, safe in the knowledge that their networks are safe.
Fighting future threats
With technology continuing to change the face of healthcare, the surface area and vectors available for attacks by malicious actors is constantly increasing. With the introduction of apps, networked monitoring devices, and a need for communication, the attack vector is ever expanding, a trend that needs to be monitored and secured against.
To prevent any damage to patients, staff, or the organisation they are responsible for, healthcare leaders must put security front and centre of their digital transformation strategy. Only then can the sector harness the full benefits of technology. Doing this should include implementing cybersecurity awareness training to challenge misconceptions around security, encourage conversation, and to ensure employee knowledge of the security basics and threats faced.
This ultimately allows healthcare organisations to do what they do best: provide the highest standard of patient care, safe in the knowledge that their operations, patients, and data are safe.