Causes & Effects of Brief Psychotic Disorder

Episodes of psychosis that last more than one day but less than a month may be diagnosed as brief psychotic disorder. A person who suffers from this disorder is able to function properly while not experiencing a psychotic episode, which includes symptoms of hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized behavior and speech or catatonia, but he or she will struggle to function effectively in everyday life in the midst of an episode.

Anyone can suffer from this disorder, and it is sometimes a result of extreme levels of stress or a byproduct of hormonal changes related to pregnancy. During psychotic episodes, a person might require treatment to keep from causing harm to him or herself or others. This will depend on the severity of symptoms, which will vary in each case.

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Statistics

Research suggests that about 9% of those who report a first-time psychosis episode are truly experiencing brief psychosis disorder, while the other 89% of individuals are experiencing another condition or conditions. Twice as many women than men suffer from this disorder. Usually it is experienced in the mid-thirties, although even teenagers can experience it as well.

Causes and Risk Factors for Brief Psychotic Disorder

Dissociative states (detachment from reality) sometimes result from trauma, resulting in brief psychotic disorder. In other cases, there is a postpartum onset and the symptoms disappear a certain time after pregnancy. Risk factors for brief psychotic disorder might have a lot to do with personality. Individuals at higher risk may already manifest some schizotypal or borderline personality disorder-like symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Brief Psychotic Disorder

Brief psychotic disorder includes one or more of the following symptoms:

Delusions: These are beliefs that a person refuses to let go of, even when there is no solid base for clinging to the belief and there is strong evidence against it. Some examples:

  • Persecutory delusion (fear of impending attack or conspiracy)
  • Grandiose delusions (believed personal fame or grandeur)
  • Erotomanic delusions (belief that someone is in love with the individual)
  • Nihilistic delusion (belief of impending catastrophe)
  • Somatic delusions (belief of bodily occupation, infestation, infection, or injury)

Hallucinations: This symptom leads a person to hear, see, taste, smell, or feel sensations that are not based on real stimuli.

Disorganized speech: A result of rapid and disorganized thought patterns, disorganized speech jumps from topic to topic and might begin ideas without finishing complete thoughts. This gives the appearance of not thinking with any consistent sense or reason. Communication becomes extremely difficult.

Catatonic or disorganized behavior: Catatonic and disorganized behaviors can include:

  • Moving in an unpredictable way, often excessively
  • Strange posture, often without movement
  • Moving rapidly or excessively
  • Repeating things for no reason
  • Freezing or physically stopping all movement
  • Performing many actions without accomplishing anything

If any of these symptoms are present, it is advisable and appropriate to seek professional consultation.

If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Effects of Brief Psychotic Disorder

Outcomes are positive when brief psychotic disorder is treated professionally. Psychotic symptoms will be less frequent, scary, and dangerous. Suicide is a serious threat with psychosis, which may last up to 30 days, so leaving this disorder untreated is hazardous.

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