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Psychotic disorders are a form of mental illness that display a break within one’s reality. This can include odd behavior, thinking, emotions, perceptions, hearing voices, or viewing things that are not there. Approximately 3.5% of the entire US population suffers from a form of psychosis at one point in their lives. Psychotic disorders are complex and can require more in-depth treatment to manage symptoms.

The causes of psychotic disorders remain mostly unknown but are believed to stem from suspect viruses, neurological malfunctions, traumatic or prolonged stress, substance abuse, and more. For more information on the types of Psychotic disorders and causes, please read our resources page on Psychotic disorders

Types of Psychotic Disorders

Delusional disorder

Characterized by false beliefs that the individual truly believes are true, such as thinking someone is out to murder you or your spouse is having an affair, for example, which leads to impairing behaviors.

Substance induced psychotic disorder

The presence of hallucinations or delusions occurring as a withdrawal symptom for several drugs, including alcohol, LSD, opioids, cocaine, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, and PCP.


May involve hearing or seeing things that are not there, delusional thoughts, erratic behavior, angry outbursts, moodiness.

Schizoaffective disorder

Combines features of schizophrenia with a mood disorder involving depressive or manic episodes.

Schizophreniform disorder

Similar to schizophrenia but is a temporary disorder lasting one-six months in duration, and tends to affect teens and young adults.

Brief psychotic disorder

A short-lived disorder that is sometimes triggered by a traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one or a car accident, that lasts less than one month.

Shared psychotic disorder

Involves two people who both believe in a delusional situation, such as a husband and wife who both believe the same absurd delusion.

Symptoms of a Psychotic Disorder

    • Insomnia
    • Suspicious or paranoid behavior
    • Loss of interest in appearance and hygiene
    • Personality changes
    • Persistent feelings of being watched
    • Inappropriate behavior
    • Avoidance of social situations
    • Decline in academic or work performance
    • Unusual body positioning or movement
    • Unusual preoccupation and fears
    • Strange or disorganized speech or writing
    • Seeing or hearing things that are not really there
    • Irrational or angry behaviors
    • Inability to concentrate

How to treat Psychotic Disorders

A person with a psychotic disorder may first require an inpatient intervention to stabilize their behavior, called an acute stabilization service. During any acute psychotic event, the subject will be closely monitored, with medications reviewed and thereby adjusted while suitable therapy is initiated. A residential session usually allows for more intensive and customized treatments in a safe setting, with 24-hour support.

Treatment mainly involves drug therapy and psychotherapy. During residential treatment, patients will undergo various forms of psychotherapy. The approach focuses on helping the patient to recognize irrational thinking and behavior and replace them with healthy thinking-behavioral patterns. Individual, family, and group therapies are all provided through a residential program until the patient is stabilized.

Medications like antidepressants and anti-psychotic medications may help stabilize the most severe symptoms, including hallucinations, cognitive difficulties, and delusions.

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