Causes, Signs, & Effects of Brief Psychotic Disorder

Are you concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with brief psychotic disorder? Learn about the causes, signs, and effects to identify whether professional treatment may be necessary.

Understanding Brief Psychotic Disorder

Learn about brief psychotic disorder

Unforeseen psychotic episodes that impact an individual for more than one day but for less than one month are diagnosed as brief psychotic disorder. As soon as the symptoms of unusual fixed beliefs, hallucinations, and/or catatonia or disorganized speech and behaviors which define a brief psychotic episode have ceased, the individual is able to return to his or her normal functioning.

Brief psychotic disorder can affect all kinds of people, as the onset of this condition might come from extreme stress, and might afflict some women during their pregnancy or after the birth of their child. Individuals who experience this disorder might require attention during these episodes in order to continue to function without causing harm to themselves or others. The amount of help needed can vary, and it will be dependent on the strength of the psychosis.

It is imperative to know that brief psychotic disorder is treatable. Numerous forms of treatment have proven to be effective and reliable in preventing and reducing psychotic symptoms.


Brief psychotic disorder statistics

Of those who are diagnosed with psychosis only after their first episode, researchers state that roughly 9% are actually suffering from brief psychotic disorder and not another disorder that might present symptoms later on. According to additional reports, women harbor twice the risk for this disorder as compared to men. While teenagers and young adults might develop this disorder, it will often present itself within the mid-30’s.

Causes and Risk Factors

Learn what is known about the causes of brief psychotic disorder

Certain genetic factors have been linked to one’s risk of brief psychotic disorder, including:

Genetic: According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), numerous heritable personality traits and disorders, like schizotypal personality disorder, perceptual dysregulation, borderline personality disorder, and suspiciousness might increase one’s risk for developing brief psychotic disorder.

Risk Factors:

  • Certain personality traits and disorders
  • Gender (women are slightly more likely than men to develop brief psychotic disorder)
  • Dysfunctional coping skills
  • Family history of brief psychotic disorder and other mental health disorders

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of brief psychotic disorder

One or more the symptoms below must be present in order for one to be diagnosed with brief psychotic disorder:

Delusions: When concrete evidence proves that an individual’s belief is incorrect and the individual is unable to change his or her belief, he or she is experiencing a delusion. Some of the possible examples of delusions can include:

  • Constant preoccupation regarding an imagined negative health condition of one’s body and/or organ function may be due to somatic delusions.
  • The conviction of impending catastrophe or destruction is known as nihilistic delusion.
  • A person who truly becomes convinced of receiving the romantic affection of another without cause may be suffering erotomanic delusions.
  • Irrational insistence that one is especially talented, gifted, or even famous characterizes grandiose delusions.
  • Belief that an organization or a person is going to inflict harm is called persecutory delusion.

Hallucinations: An individual who is having a hallucination experiences perceptions, often visual or aural, that are not linked to reality. Hallucinations can involve any of an individual’s senses, including sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell.

Disorganized speech: This symptom involves a reduction in the ability of an individual to communicate well as a result of poor organization of his or her thoughts. He or she might go from topic to topic in a noticeably choppy manner and be challenging to understand.

Disorganized or catatonic behavior: Disorganized and catatonic behaviors might manifest themselves in the following ways:

  • Behavior characterized by nonsensical repetition
  • Moving excessively or in an unpredictable way
  • Total lack of movement, stillness, frozen behavior
  • Directing activity pointlessly without any outcome of task accomplishment
  • Posture that is strange or bizarre

It would be most appropriate to consider that an individual is suffering from brief psychotic disorder if one or more of the symptoms above is present and is not being caused by addiction, substance abuse, or any other medical or mental health condition.


Effects of brief psychotic disorder

Allowing brief psychotic disorder to go untreated can cause an individual to become vulnerable to further psychotic episodes with full-blown symptoms and an increased risk of suicide. In many instances, there is a high rate of relapse amongst those who do not obtain treatment. Below are some of the negative effects of untreated brief psychotic disorder:

  • Suicidal ideation
  • Academic failure
  • Unemployment
  • Social withdrawal
  • Declining occupational performance
  • Job loss
  • Family discord
  • Onset or worsening of substance abuse
  • Physical harm due to actions based on delusions
  • Substandard performance in school
  • Emotional turmoil
  • Insufficient self-care

When an individual who has experienced brief psychotic disorder does obtain treatment, he or she is much more likely to see symptom reduction and improved functioning.

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