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Psychotic Disorder Treatment

Searching about psychotic disorder treatment in Coral Gables? Learning about schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders will help give you a complete understanding of how they are treated.

What is Psychosis?

Psychosis is a serious condition of the mind where a person loses touch with reality. During this state, the person has what is called a psychotic episode. When a person is having an episode, it is very difficult for them to tell the difference between reality and fiction. People also do not exhibit proper behavior, do not communicate well, or think clearly. Because of this, it is very difficult to handle everyday life.

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DMS-5-TR), this group of serious mental illnesses is called Psychotic Disorders.

Psychotic Disorder Types

The disorder comes in many types and severity. Here are the types of psychotic disorders.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is one of the most severe types. The person has difficulty telling what’s real from what’s not. They experience symptoms of hallucinations and delusions. Aside from this, their cognitive ability is also affected. They have problems with attention and organizing their thoughts. Their behavior changes severely. They cannot function normally at work or in school, and their relationships suffer.

There are different subtypes of schizophrenia based on the symptoms that the person has. [1] These subtypes are:

  • Paranoid schizophrenia - a person with this subtype experiences extreme delusions and hallucinations. They are very suspicious of others. They may believe that they are persecuted by something. Or they may have grandiose thoughts about themselves.


  • Disorganized schizophrenia - a person with this subtype has disorganized thoughts, which is one of the main symptoms of schizophrenia. The abnormality in their thinking makes them speak incoherently, and blurt out random words. They may not necessarily have delusions.


  • Catatonic schizophrenia - the person has catatonia or an extreme reduction in their movement. The person seems to be very withdrawn.


  • Residual schizophrenia - a person with this subtype can have “residual” schizophrenia symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. Symptoms are weak.

Schizoaffective disorder

Schizoaffective has a combination of symptoms from two mental illnesses. “Schizo” from schizophrenia refers to psychotic episodes, and “affective” refers to symptoms of mood disorders.

People who are diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder have schizophrenia symptoms as well as symptoms of a mood disorder. Aside from psychosis, they may experience depression and mania.

Schizophreniform disorder

People diagnosed with schizophreniform disorder experience delusions and hallucinations. However, the symptoms only last for 1 month up to 6 months. The doctors consider the person to have schizophrenia when the symptoms last for more than 6 months. [2]

Brief psychotic disorder

A person is considered to have a brief psychotic disorder when he or she experiences a psychotic episode as a reaction to a stressful event in their life. It is clear that their psychosis was brought about by trauma or unfortunate circumstances.

It is considered brief because it is sudden and only lasts for a short period of time. This psychotic disorder is rare. People diagnosed with this disorder usually recover in less than one month. [3]

Delusional disorders

The main symptom of this disorder is the presence of delusions that last for at least one month. Delusions are something that one believes to be true but aren’t.

A person’s delusion may not necessarily be impossible. In fact, their delusions can very much happen in real life. For example, a person with delusional disorder may believe that he has a physical illness even when not, or that someone is stalking him.

The person stubbornly continues to believe the delusion even if other people have proven it to be false.

Shared psychotic disorder


This type of psychotic disorder is also called folie à deux. This happens in a close relationship between two or more people where a person with psychosis “shares” his symptoms with a nonpsychotic person. There is a transfer of delusions.

Substance-induced psychotic disorder

This happens when a person experiences psychotic episodes because of taking a substance or drugs.

Psychotic disorder due to another medical condition

Sometimes, people have symptoms because of the presence of another medical condition.

What are the symptoms of psychotic disorders?

Psychotic disorders have three main symptoms. These are delusions, hallucinations, and disorderly thinking. [4]

It is important to note that these symptoms are not exclusive to psychotic disorders. People who have other mental illnesses such as severe depression may also experience psychotic episodes.

  • Hallucination - When a person hallucinates, he or she may hear, feel, or see things that are not really there.


  • Delusions - When a person is delusional, he or she believes something even if it has proven to be false.


  • Disorganized thinking - The person cannot coherently express their thoughts because they cannot organize their thought processes. The person may blurt out a random word or talk about something that is not related to the topic.


  • Other symptoms include having strange behavior and movements, not taking care of one’s hygiene, being distant, and not expressing emotions like they used to. The person may also have severe mood swings.

People diagnosed with psychotic disorders often put a lot of tension on their relationships because of their severe symptoms.

People don’t always have the same psychotic behavior and these symptoms can also change over time.

What are the causes of psychotic disorders?

Psychotic disorders are very complex and doctors are still trying to fully understand what exactly causes them. What we do know is that there are many factors that contribute to a person developing a psychotic disorder. It can be an interaction between a person’s genes and the environment. Researchers say that there is no single gene, but a combination of genes that causes its development.

Genetic predisposition to psychosis

There are people who are more predisposed to psychotic disorders compared to others. There are many studies such as this that show a genetic predisposition to be a strong risk factor for schizophrenia. So, a person may be at risk if they have a family member who has the disorder.

Brain Chemistry and Development

A person’s brain chemistry and development can also be risk factors. It is thought that nerve cell receptors that do not work properly may cause issues in the way a person thinks and perceives the world. Many researchers believe that high levels of a brain chemical, dopamine, can bring about psychosis.

Misuse of Drugs

Another factor is the misuse of drugs such as cocaine, cannabis, and amphetamines. Abusing these drugs can bring about psychotic symptoms, especially in people who are already susceptible to the disorders.  

Stress and Life Changes

Extreme stress and major life changes can also be risk factors for developing psychotic disorders. A study shows that individuals who are considered at clinical high risk for mental illnesses, including psychotic disorders have higher rates of trauma.

Age

Most of these disorders are seen in patients who are aged from late teens to early adulthood.


If you are under stress or experiencing major life changes, talking to mental health professionals can help you cope.

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How are they diagnosed?

The American Psychiatric Association uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5-TR) as a manual for doctors to diagnose and assess if you have psychotic disorder symptoms. In addition, they diagnose the patient with the use of a mental health screening examination.

During a mental health screening, your doctor will simply check how you are emotionally. They will ask you for details about your feelings, behavior, and other symptoms you might have. Aside from speaking with you, they may ask you to answer a questionnaire.

Doctors may also perform a physical exam or blood tests to check if your symptoms are caused by a physical condition such as a brain tumor. A mental health screening is safe. It has very little to no risk on your part. [5]

How can doctors treat psychotic disorders?

Psychotic symptoms are very treatable. The most common treatment options are antipsychotic drugs and psychotherapies.

Antipsychotic medications

Antipsychotics are used to block the effect of dopamine in the brain. These drugs can also be used in treating other mental conditions such as bipolar. They can be administered through a syringe, a capsule, or in liquid form.

There are older and newer forms of antipsychotics. Doctors first prescribe the lowest dosage as patients who are taking them may develop side effects. It is important to discuss with your doctor if you continue to have side effects after a few weeks of taking the meds, so that he can evaluate if you need another drug.

Antipsychotics are not a cure, but they are very effective in reducing symptoms of psychotic disorders.

Psychological Therapies

Psychotherapies come in many forms. You may schedule one-on-one meetings with your psychiatrist, or you may join group therapies. During these sessions, your doctor will help you achieve more meaningful goals.

Brain Stimulation Therapies

Doctors use electricity to stimulate the brain. Brain stimulation therapies are less popular than antipsychotic drugs and psychotherapies. But, they can be helpful, especially for people who are unresponsive to other forms of treatment.

Social Support and Family Intervention

Social support from family members, friends is important. The stress of caring for a family member with a psychotic disorder can take a toll on the family. That is why it greatly helps when the family is fully educated about the condition.

Involving the family during therapies can help them learn practical ways to manage psychotic episodes. They learn ways to cope and support each other.

Rehabilitation

Most people don’t need to be in an institution to treat their symptoms. However, a person may need to be admitted to a rehabilitation center if the symptoms are severe and pose a significant risk to a person's life.

Can people recover from illness?

Many people have different reactions and side effects to treatment. Some people may recover right away while it may take time for others.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can people with psychotic disorders still lead normal lives?

People can recover with the proper treatment. Recovery will also depend on other factors such as the type of disorder and the person himself. People with severe psychotic disorders like schizophrenia may need lifelong treatment to cope successfully.

Can psychotic disorders be prevented?

At present, there is no known way of preventing a psychotic disorder. Early intervention will give the person a better chance of recovering. Avoiding the risk factors such as drug use may help decrease the person’s chance of developing a psychotic disorder.  

Psychotic disorders vs psychosis?

These two are different. Psychotic disorders are a defined group of mental illnesses in the DSM-5. These disorders have many symptoms, including psychosis. Psychosis can be a symptom of psychotic disorders, but it can also happen in people with other mental health conditions.

How common is psychosis?

Many people experience psychosis at one point in their lives. Psychosis happens to approximately 100,000 young people every year.

What are the complications of psychosis?

One of the most common complications for people experiencing psychosis is self-harm or suicide. If a person is using antipsychotic drugs for a long time, they may also gain weight.

What is postpartum psychosis?

Postpartum psychosis is a serious illness that happens to women after giving birth. Symptoms happen drastically. These symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, heightened sex drive, and insomnia. You may also feel detached from your newborn baby.

Postpartum psychosis can be life-threatening because your risk for suicide increases. It is important to have a loved one monitor you for the first few weeks after giving birth. Patients recover gradually in time and are able to lead normal lives.

Find out more on postpartum psychosis.


Stress and problems can make you vulnerable to mental health conditions. Talking to your psychologist about your mental health can be a great way to help you. If you want to reach out to a mental health provider, Bregman Medical Group is here for you! Contact us for an appointment!

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If you would like to know more about psychotic disorders, you may visit here.

References:

[1] https://www.bbrfoundation.org/faq/frequently-asked-questions-about-schizophrenia

[2] https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/mental-health-schizophreniform-disorder

[3] https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/guide/mental-health-brief-psychotic-disorder

[4] https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/guide/mental-health-psychotic-disorders

[5] https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/mental-health-screening/

By BregmanMD | March 28, 2022 | Mental Health

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