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    What Is Brief Psychotic Disorder?

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    This is what doctors call psychotic symptoms that come on suddenly but last only for a short time -- less than 1 month. After that, people usually recover completely.

    There are three basic forms of brief psychotic disorders:

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    1. Brief psychotic disorder with obvious stressor (also called brief reactive psychosis): This type happens shortly after a trauma or major stress, such as the death of a loved one, an accident, assault, or a natural disaster. It's usually a reaction to a very disturbing event.
    2. Brief psychotic disorder without obvious stressor: With this type, there is no apparent trauma or stress that triggers it.
    3. Brief psychotic disorder with postpartum onset: This type only happens in women, usually within 4 weeks of having a baby.


    The most obvious ones include:

    Hallucinations: Someone might hear voices, see things that aren't there, or feel sensations on their skin even though nothing is touching their body.

    Delusions: These are false beliefs that someone refuses to give up, even in the face of facts.

    Other symptoms are:

    • 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
    • Not being able to make decisions


    Experts don’t know what causes brief psychotic disorder. It is possible there is a genetic link since the condition 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 very frightening or stressful situation.

    In most cases, the disorder is triggered by a major stress or traumatic event. For some women, childbirth can be a trigger.

    How Common Is It?

    Brief psychotic disorder is rare. It usually happens for the first time when people are in their 20s or 30s, and it’s more common in women than in men.

    People who have a condition such as antisocial personality disorder or paranoid personality disorder are more likely to get it.

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