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    Schizophrenia and Brief Psychotic Disorder

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    As the name suggests, brief psychotic disorder is a short-term illness with psychotic symptoms. The symptoms often come on suddenly, but last for less than one month, after which the person usually recovers completely. There are three basic forms of brief psychotic disorder:

    • Brief psychotic disorder with obvious stressor (also called brief reactive psychosis): This type occurs shortly after and often in response to a trauma or major stress, such as the death of a loved one, an accident, assault, or a natural disaster. Most cases of brief psychotic disorder occur as a reaction to a very disturbing event.
    • Brief psychotic disorder without obvious stressor: With this type, there is no apparent trauma or stress that triggers the illness.
    • Brief psychotic disorder with postpartum onset: This type occurs in women, usually within 4 weeks of having a baby.

    What Are the Symptoms of Brief Psychotic Disorder?

    The most obvious symptoms of brief psychotic disorder include:

    • Hallucinations: Hallucinations are sensory perceptions of things that aren't actually present, such as hearing voices, seeing things that aren't there, or feeling sensations on your skin even though nothing is touching your body.
    • Delusions: These are false beliefs that the person refuses to give up, even in the face of contradictory facts.

    Other symptoms of brief psychotic disorder include:

    • Disorganized thinking
    • Speech or language that doesn't make sense
    • Unusual behavior and dress
    • Problems with memory
    • Disorientation or confusion
    • Changes in eating or sleeping habits, energy level, or weight
    • Inability to make decisions

    What Causes Brief Psychotic Disorder?

    It is unclear what causes brief psychotic disorder. It is possible there is a genetic link since the disorder is more common in people who have a family history of psychotic or mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder. Another theory suggests that  poor coping skills could trigger the disorder as a defense against or escape from a particularly frightening or stressful situation. These factors may create a vulnerability to develop brief psychotic disorder. In most cases, the disorder is triggered by a major stress or traumatic event. In some women, it can be triggered by childbirth.

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