What Is a Brief Psychotic Disorder?

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  • Written By: Steve R.
  • Edited By: S. Pike
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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A brief psychotic disorder is a short episode in which an individual departs from reality. Also referred to as brief reactive psychosis, a brief psychotic disorder is generally characterized by hallucinations, catatonic episodes, unusual speech, and hyperactivity. A person is classified with a brief psychotic disorder if he or she experiences at least one major symptom for longer than a day but less than 30 days. The condition that comes on suddenly may be treated with counseling and medication.

Generally, more women than men suffer from the disorder and episodes typically occur during a person's 30s or 40s. An individual who experiences brief reactive psychosis may be at risk for harming him- or herself or others. After experiencing a brief psychotic disorder, a person will return to his normal level of functioning.

Severe stress can cause a person to suffer from brief reactive psychosis. An individual may experience the mental disorder if he or she experiences many traumatic factors simultaneously, such as a death of a loved one, unemployment, or illness. In addition, the disorder is often associated with the beginning stages of schizophrenia. A brief psychotic disorder may be brought about in women as a result of hormone changes during childbirth. Also, a person with a personality disorder may be vulnerable to the disorder.


Classic symptoms of the disorder are hallucinations and delusions. A person who experiences hallucinations may see, hear, or even smell things that do not really exist. When a person undergoes delusions, he or she has irrational thoughts that cannot be changed even when concrete evidence to refute the irrational thought is presented. An individual suffering from a delusion may believe he or she is someone famous, and the delusions may have religious overtones. Other symptoms that are typically linked with the disorder are sudden changes in mood, suicidal thoughts, and memory loss.

If a patient becomes violent, he or she may need to be hospitalized for evaluation. During the hospital stint, the patient may need to be restrained to prevent self-harm or harm to others. In some cases when the disorder is brought about by stressors, the condition dissipates when those stressors are resolved.

Another method of treatment involves the prescription of antipsychotic drugs. If a person with the condition has a high amount of nervousness and difficulty sleeping, tranquilizers may be prescribed. Individual or group psychotherapy can also be effective in treating the disorder. Therapy aids a patient in recognizing and dealing with the situation that may have prompted the condition.


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Post 1

Many thanks for the insight. I had, due to a tremendous amount of stress, been suffering insomnia and then picked up flu. This led to me not eating or drinking or sleeping at all. Over the course of a couple of days, I slipped into my own personal Hell, with delusions, hallucinations, paranoia and finally suicidal thoughts. I recovered due to finally speaking to someone and them getting me help, and after getting some food and drink, and talk therapy, and then much needed sleep, it cleared.

I have been left with a very mixed and incomplete memory of the week or so I was ill, and three months on, I am a different person. My personality is much more

subdued, I do not enjoy the things I used to do previously and I am still prone to memories of the emotions I felt, but not the actions. It was the single most terrifying experience of my life, and I am in my 50's, male, and have had a few.

I have anxiety attacks about what if. What if I had got out, or driven my car, or not spoken about my plans? I have never suffered a moment's self doubt, fear or been truly scared in my whole life, never even had a day or two of being depressed. My whole life has changed, as has my perception of mental health.

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