Psychotic Disorders: Types, Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

The term “psychotic disorders” refers to a group of illnesses that impact the mind. People who are suffering from them have difficulty thinking, making good judgments, responding emotionally, communicating effectively, understanding reality, and behaving appropriately.

Psychotic disorders can cause people to lose touch with reality and often become incapable of managing their daily lives. Psychotic disorders can often be treated, even severe ones.

Psychotic disorder types

There are various types of psychotic disorders, including:

Schizophrenia: Those who suffer from this illness have behavioral changes and other symptoms — such as delusions and hallucinations — that last for more than six months. The effects can be seen at school or work, and on their relationships as well. Be aware of schizophrenia’s early warning signs.

Schizoaffective disorder: It is common for people with schizophrenia to also suffer from a mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder.

Schizophreniform disorder: Symptoms include those of schizophrenia, but they last for a shorter amount of time: between 1 and 6 months.

Brief psychotic disorder: These people exhibit sudden, short-lived psychotic behavior, often as a result of a very stressful event, such as a death in the family. In most cases, recovery takes a few weeks.

Delusional disorder: There are many symptoms associated with having a delusion (a false, fixed belief) involving a real-life situation that could be true but isn’t. Examples include being followed, being plotted against, or having a disease. One month is the minimum duration of the delusion.

Shared psychotic disorder (also called folie à deux): A relationship gets this illness when one or both of the partners adopts a delusion shared by the other.

Substance-induced psychotic disorder: The condition is caused by hallucinogens, crack cocaine and other drugs that cause hallucinations, delusions, and confused speech.

Psychotic disorder due to another medical condition: If your brain functions are affected by another illness, such as a head injury or tumor, you might experience hallucinations, delusions, or other symptoms.

Paraphrenia: Symptoms of this condition are similar to schizophrenia. It begins late in life when people are elderly.

Symptoms

The most common are hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking.

Hallucinations are seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t real. Some people experience strange sensations on their skin and can see things that aren’t there, hear voices, smell odors, taste something strange in their mouth, and hear voices even when nothing is touching them.

False beliefs that persist after being shown to be false are described as delusions. When someone is convinced that their food is poisonous, even though it is fine, they have a delusion.

Psychotic illnesses can also cause the following symptoms:

  • Speaking incoherently or in an unorganized manner
  • Confused thinking
  • Strange, possibly dangerous behavior
  • Slowed or unusual movements
  • Lack of interest in personal hygiene
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Relationship and school problems
  • An inability to express emotion and a cold, detached manner
  • Depression or mania, as well as mood swings

Symptoms can change over time for the same person, and they do not always occur at the same time.

Causes

Psychotic disorders are not known to have a specific cause. Many factors are believed to be involved. It appears that some psychotic disorders run in families, which means that there is a possibility of inheritance. Their development may also be influenced by stress, drug abuse, or major life changes.

The parts of the brain that affect thinking, perception, and motivation in some individuals with psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia.

Some experts believe that neurons may not function properly during schizophrenia because of a chemical in the brain called glutamate. There might be a glitch that affects how you think and perceive.

People usually first experience these conditions in their late teens, early 20s, or early 30s. Men and women are affected about equally by them.

Diagnosis

Psychotic disorders are diagnosed by taking a patient’s medical and psychiatric history as well as performing a physical exam. It is sometimes necessary to run blood tests and get brain images (such as MRIs) to rule out serious physical illness or illicit drug use.

A doctor may refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist if the physical cause of the symptoms cannot be determined. To determine if a person has a psychotic disorder, mental health professionals use specially developed interviewing and assessment tools.

Treatment

Psychotherapy is a type of counseling that is usually used in conjunction with medications to treat psychotic disorders.

Medication

Antipsychotics are commonly prescribed for people with psychotic disorders. Although they do not cure psychosis, these drugs can effectively manage its most troubling symptoms, such as delusions, hallucinations, and difficulty thinking.

Among the older antipsychotics are:

  • Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
  • Fluphenazine (Prolixin)
  • Haloperidol (Haldol)
  • Loxapine (Loxitane)
  • Perphenazine (Trilafon)
  • Thioridazine (Mellaril)

Newer “atypical antipsychotics” are:

  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • Asenapine (Saphris)
  • Brexpiprazole (Rexulti)
  • Cariprazine (Vraylar)
  • Clozapine (Clozaril)
  • Iloperidone (Fanapt)
  • Lurasidone (Latuda)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Olanzapine/samidorphan (Lybalvi)
  • Paliperidone (Invega)
  • Paliperidone palmitate (Invega Sustenna, Invega Trinza)
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • Risperidone (Risperdal)
  • Ziprasidone (Geodon)

Older antipsychotics tend to cause more side effects than the newer ones, so doctors usually prescribe the newer ones first. Medications can be taken by injection to be effective and only must be taken once or twice a month, sometimes even every three months. It may be easier to remember to take this than to take a daily pill.

Psychotherapy

Therapy can help someone who has a psychotic disorder. Counseling options include individual, group, and family therapy.

The most common type of treatment for psychotic disorders is outpatient, meaning they do not live in a hospital. But sometimes people need to go to the hospital, such as if they are experiencing severe symptoms, if they are hurting themselves or others, or if they are unable to take care of themselves due to an illness.

Recovery

Therapy may differ from person to person when treating a psychotic disorder. Some will improve quickly. Other people may require weeks or months to experience relief from their symptoms.

It is possible for some people to need to continue treatment for an extended period of time. Some people, such as those who have experienced severe episodes several times, may need to take medication indefinitely. To minimize the side effects of these medications, they are usually given in the lowest dose possible.

What is the outlook for people with psychotic disorders?

Psychotic disorders vary according to the person and their type. In general, these disorders can be treated, and most people will be able to recover if they follow a treatment plan closely.

Is it possible to prevent psychotic disorders?

No. Treatment should begin as soon as possible, however. Preventing symptoms is one of its benefits. The sooner a person seeks help, the better it will be for the person, the family, and their relationships.

Marijuana and alcohol can increase the risk for psychotic disorders in people who have a family history of schizophrenia. Avoiding these substances may help to prevent or delay these disorders in people at high risk.

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