What are Psychotic Disorders: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Recovery

Very few of us are actually aware of the seriousness of psychotic disorders. The society has believed us into thinking that psychotic disorders are nothing, but myths. Whereas the truth is that psychotic disorders are like other medical disorders and are very much manageable and they are nothing to be ashamed of. The recent development in the field of psychology has; however, proven that psychotic disorders are as important as other physical disorders and need to be duly regarded. For this purpose, it is important that we put the stigma behind and start treating the brain just like any other organ. The physiological hazards of the brain has to be hence, treated fairly and with an open mind.

What are Psychotic Disorders?

Psychotic disorders are a group of severe mental disorders that cause a person to have abnormal thinking and perception. Psychotic disorders make it impossible for the person to lead a normal life as they make it difficult to stay in touch with reality. Patients suffering from psychotic disorders have a broken perception of what it real and unreal. It is extremely difficult for people with psychotic disorders to think clearly, respond to stimuli with correct set of emotions, to communicate effectively, and behave appropriately in social as well as an individual environment. Life of a patient with a psychotic disorder is difficult, to the say the least.

When the symptoms of psychotic disorders get too severe, it becomes impossible for the patient to stay in touch with the immediate environment. Daily activities become so difficult that they are in constant need of a caretaker; but, with the help of psychiatric treatment and proper psychological treatment, the life of a patient with a psychotic disorder can be made simpler and better.

What are The Different Types of Psychotic Disorders?

Schizophrenia: This is one of the most common and well discussed types of psychotic disorders. Schizophrenic is a psychotic disorder where the patient absolutely loses touch with the reality. Schizophrenic people have a world of their own, which is charged up by constant delusions and hallucinations. There is of course a change in their behavior. The hallucinations last for over a period of 6 months. Schizophrenic people have a lot of problem keeping up with their work and schooling and their sense of interpersonal relationship is seriously damaged.

Schizophreniform Disorder: All the symptoms of schizophrenia are included here. The hallucinations; however, last for a shorter period: between 1 to 6 months in this type of psychotic disorder.

Schizoaffective Disorder: People with schizoaffective disorder have all the symptoms of schizophrenia. Besides those, the affective functions are seriously damaged in this type of psychotic disorder, as the patient also shows symptoms of mood disorders, like depression and bipolar disorder.

Brief Psychotic Disorder: Patients diagnosed with this psychotic disorder have short and sudden periods of psychotic behavior, which are triggered by some extremely stressful event, like the death of a family member. The recovery period from this type of psychotic disorders is, however, not too long, usually within a month.

Delusional Disorder: The most important feature of this psychotic disorder is that the patient has some false and fixed belief or a delusion regarding some aspects of the real life, which is absolutely false. Patients have delusions like they are being followed or poisoned or that someone is plotting against them. These psychotic delusions generally last for at least a month.

Shared Psychotic Disorder: This psychotic illness is caused when a person in a relationship has a delusion, which is adopted by his/her partner as well.

Substance Induced Psychotic Disorders: This psychotic disorder is caused due to the influence of or from the withdrawal from some kind of a drug like a hallucinogenic or cocaine. They cause hallucinations, lack of coordinated movement, delusions and confused speech.

Psychotic Disorder Caused by Some Other Medical Condition: Hallucinations and delusions can be also caused due to some other illness that affects the brain functions. A head injury or a brain tumor can be responsible for this type of psychotic disorder.

Paraphrenia: This psychotic disorder has conditions that are similar to that of schizophrenia, however, it starts late in life.

What are the Causes of Psychotic Disorders?

Hereditary Cause of Psychotic Disorders: There is a great deal of argument and discussion going on regarding the causes of psychotic disorders. There are many factors that might lead to psychotic disorders. Some doctors believe that psychotic disorders are genetically endowed, which means that these are passed on from one generation to the other in a family. According to this theory, psychotic disorders are heritable factors that run in the blood of the patient.

Psychotic Disorders Caused Due To Lesions In The Brain Centers: Psychotic disorders are mainly caused because of some abrasion or lesions in the brain centers controlling thinking, learning and perception. Any injury or harm to these areas of the brain is particularly dangerous, as these functions are very important to carry on with our day to day activities. In case of schizophrenia, it has been found through research that this psychotic disorder lies particularly in the nerve cell receptors. Nerve cell receptors that particularly work in association with a brain chemical called glutamate stops to work and this causes a problem in the functions of learning and memory causing this psychotic disorder known as schizophrenia.

Other Causes of Psychotic Disorders: Others are of the opinion that psychotic disorders are caused by other things that have an effect during the developmental phase of a human being. Other such leading causes are excessive drug abuse, stress, strain and major life changes.

What are the Symptoms of Psychotic Disorders?

The two main symptoms of psychotic disorders are as follows:

Hallucinations: In simple words, hallucination means to hear, think or feel things that do not actually exist in reality. A patient with psychotic disorder may feel sensations even when nothing is touching them. Patients with psychotic disorder may hear their names being called or may smell something that does not actually exist.

Delusions: Delusions are basically false beliefs that exist even after they have been proved to be false. Patients with psychotic disorders are often found to think that other people are trying to harm them. A patent may think that his mother is trying to poison him and this thought persists even after it has been proved that his mother has no such intentions.

Other symptoms of psychotic disorders include:

  • A lack of judgment.
  • Clouded thinking process.
  • Disorganized and often meaningless speech.
  • Unusual and slowed movements.
  • Loss of interest in activities which were previously found to be interesting.
  • Loss of interest or an inability to contribute towards personal hygiene.
  • Problems at school or the workplace and also in relationships.
  • An inability to express latent feelings which makes them cold and detached from relationships. They are unaware of the need for emotional bonding and an interpersonal relationship.
  • Severe mood swings. There might be other mood symptoms too like depression and mania.

What is to be kept in mind is that the symptoms of psychotic disorders are not global and that all patients with psychotic disorders might not showcase these symptoms. What is even more interesting is that the symptoms of psychotic disorders may vary from time to time in the same individual.

How is the Diagnosis of a Psychotic Disorder Made?

In order to diagnose a psychotic disorder, psychiatrists go through a rigorous process. A detailed case study of the person is first taken up. The patient is talked to, and there are number of checkups issued to the patient. The psychiatrist then considers other plausible factors that might be influencing the abnormal behavior of the patient. There might be certain blood tests and MRI scan done on the patient in order to rule out the possibilities of other physical illness or the effect of a hallucinogenic drug like cocaine or LSD. When all such physical reasons for the psychotic symptoms are ruled out, psychiatrists along with the help of psychologists administer a number of specially determined assessment tools like questionnaires and inventories in order to diagnose the patient as suffering from a psychotic disorder.

What is the Treatment for Psychotic Disorders?

Psychotic disorders are generally treated with the help of a combination of medications as well a type of counseling which is known as psychotherapy.

Medications for Treating Psychotic Disorders: The types of drugs that are most generally prescribed by psychiatrist for treating psychotic disorders are called “antipsychotics.” These drugs cannot absolutely “cure” the psychotic disorder, but they most definitely can help to manage the most troubling symptoms of the psychotic disorders like delusions, hallucinations, lack of judgment and thinking problems.

Some of the older antipsychotic drugs include: Chlorpromazine, fluphenazine, haloperidol, loxapine, perphenazine and thioridazine.

The newer “atypical antipsychotics” include: Aripiprazole, Brexpiprazole, Clozapine, Iloperidone, Lurasidone, Paliperidone, Asenapine, Cariprazine, Quetiapine, Ziprasidone, Olanzapine and Risperidone.

Usually doctors prescribe the newer varieties of antipsychotics first, as they have more bearable side effects. The older varieties of antipsychotics cause side effects that were too much to tolerate. Some of these antipsychotic medications are administered via injections and they need to be taken only once or twice a month. Antipsychotic injections are definitely a better option, as patients of psychotic disorders often make it very difficult to administer antipsychotic pills.

Psychotherapy for Treating Psychotic Disorders: Psychotherapy or counseling can be approached in many different ways. individual, family or group counseling. All of these counseling sessions are done to make the patient feel more connected to the reality. Most people who are dealing with psychotic disorders are not institutionalized. However, if the patients start having outrageous symptoms, they may need be hospitalized.

Recovery from Psychotic Disorders

Each patient takes different amount of time to respond to psychotic treatment or therapy; hence, there is no particular time frame for recovery of patients. Whatever the case may be, there is no reason to lose hope when fighting against a psychotic disorder. It may take time, but steadily, it is possible to minimize the symptoms of psychotic disorder and bring back normalcy in the patient’s life.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 18, 2018

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