Brief psychotic disorder

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Brief psychotic disorder is a short-term mental disorder that is characterized by abnormal thinking and perceptions. The sudden onset of psychotic symptoms may begin in response to a marked stressor (i.e., brief reactive psychosis), such as a traumatic accident or the sudden loss of a loved one, or postpartum if the onset is during pregnancy or within four weeks of childbirth. Sometimes, symptoms of brief psychotic disorder do not have an apparent cause.

Brief psychotic disorder is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Hallucinations (i.e., feeling, hearing or perceiving sensations that are not actually there)
  • Delusions (i.e., false beliefs)
  • Disorganized, irregular speech or language (e.g., incoherence)
  • Grossly abnormal psychomotor behavior (e.g., disorganized or catatonia)

To be diagnosed with brief psychotic disorder, the symptoms last more than one day, but subside within a month. The most common symptoms are delusions and hallucinations; however, brief psychotic disorder is also associated with memory problems, disorientation or confusion, poor decision-making and sleep and eating pattern changes, emotional turmoil, confusion and rapid and intense mood shifts.

Severity of the disorder is indicated by the quantitative assessment of primary symptoms of psychosis, including delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, abnormal psychomotor behavior and negative symptoms. Although psychotic episodes are brief, the level of impairment can be severe; as such, the individual may require hospitalization or supervision to prevent violent or suicidal behavior.

In addition, brief psychotic disorder episodes can be precursors to chronic mental conditions such as schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Therefore, only when the symptoms are not the result of another psychiatric disorder or medical condition, or due to the direct physiological effects of a medication or substance of abuse, is this disorder diagnosed. This is because some professionals believe that brief psychotic disorders are an early indicator of schizophrenia.

While the cause of brief psychotic disorder is not known, theories suggest that there is a genetic component underlying the development of this disorder, as it is more prevalent among people with a family history of mood disorders such as bipolar disorder or depression. Another theory suggests poor coping skills in response to a stressor make people more vulnerable to developing brief psychotic disorder. The disorder is also more likely to develop among people with pre-existing personality disorders and traits (e.g., schizotypal or borderline personality disorder; traits in the psychoticism domain, such as perceptual dysregulation). Brief psychotic disorder is uncommon, but is more likely to occur in adolescents and young adults. Women are also more likely than men to develop brief psychotic disorder.

Sovereign Health of Florida

Brief psychotic disorder is one of the mental disorders treated by Sovereign Health of Florida. Upon admission, patients are thoroughly assessed to assist treatment specialists in identifying any underlying or co-occurring conditions accompanying the primary condition. Patients exhibiting symptoms of brief psychotic disorder first undergo a medical examination that includes a complete medical history and physical examination to rule out physical causes for psychotic symptoms.

Although there are no laboratory tests that specifically diagnose the disorder, mental health professionals at Sovereign Health of Florida conduct psychiatric evaluations and biopsychosocial assessments to evaluate the patient for the occurrence of a psychotic disorder, determine the need for medication and assist the treatment team in individualizing each treatment program to the patient’s specific needs.

Treatment for brief psychotic disorder often includes a combination of antipsychotic medication and psychotherapy. Antipsychotic medications may be prescribed to decrease or eliminate symptoms and end the brief psychotic disorder. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, helps a person identify and deal with the root of the problem. All patients receive individual and group therapy and other alternative methods including meditation, which can be useful for managing stress and help to prevent future symptoms.

People are more likely to recover from brief psychotic disorder when they have good social and mental functioning prior to the onset of the disorder. Our treatment facilities provide social support and group therapy to patients to improve social functioning. We also incorporate family groups and therapy to improve our patients’ family relationships. Our treatment centers are based on our philosophy known as The Sovereign Way, which views mental health and substance abuse as brain-based problems and incorporates aspects of brain wellness to improve cognition and brain functioning.

Sovereign Health of Florida offers behavioral treatment for adult men and women with substance abuse, mental health and co-occurring conditions. We provide comprehensive treatment programs to patients and provide evidence-based techniques to help patients with brief psychotic disorder better manage their stress, deal with underlying and co-occurring problems and help prevent relapse of symptoms.

For more information about the treatment of brief psychotic disorder or to hear more about our programs, please call our 24/7 helpline to speak with a member of our admissions team.

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