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Psychotic disorder: definition, causes, symptoms, types and treatments

Reading time: 16 mins
Psychotic disorder: definition, causes, symptoms, types and treatments

Psychotic disorder is an umbrella term that refers to a group of mental illnesses indicated by symptoms of psychosis, which change the way a person perceives reality.

The causes of psychotic disorders include genetics, stress, and drug abuse.

The main symptoms of psychotic disorders are hallucinations and delusions. However, people can experience other symptoms as well, including lack of interest, paranoia, and social withdrawal.

Several types of psychotic disorders include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder, brief psychotic disorder, delusional disorder, shared psychotic disorder, substance-induced psychotic disorder, and paraphrenia.

The main treatment approach for psychotic disorders is medications and psychotherapy.

What is psychotic disorder?

Psychotic disorder is a group of mental illnesses that affect the way a person perceives reality and the world around them. These mental illnesses are characterized by symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations and delusions. In a nutshell, psychotic disorder is not a single mental illness. It’s a category to which several mental illnesses belong.

These disorders are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association in the chapter called Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders.

The psychotic disorder isn’t a modern-day mental health problem. The concept of psychosis in psychiatric literature was introduced in 1841 by Karl Friedrich Canstatt, a German physician. The term he used was psychic neurosis, which initially referred to all diseases of the nervous system. However, Canstatt focused on the psychic manifestation of a disease affecting the brain.

The Austrian physician Ernst von Feuchtersleben used the term psychosis in 1845 as he described a change in personality and the interaction between mental and physical processes. In the second half of the 19th century, the term psychosis was widely used, but it referred mainly to mental illnesses in general. In 1924, a German psychiatrist Oswald Bumke discussed an equation between different types of psychoses which led to the term psychosis getting the meaning that is still valid today.

Although the history of psychotic disorders is generally considered to start with the term psychosis, it can be traced back to ancient times. For instance, Chinese texts from over 3000 years ago mentioned neuropsychiatric illnesses indicated by mania and symptoms of psychosis with or without epilepsy.

How common is psychotic disorder?

Psychotic disorder is less common as compared to other mental illnesses. Statistics regarding psychotic disorders are scarce mainly because data focus on specific conditions. According to a paper from PLoS One, the 12-month prevalence of the psychotic disorder is 4.03 per 1000 persons whereas the median lifetime prevalence is 7.49 per 1000. Numbers show these disorders affect 1% of the population. They affect men and women equally, but males usually have an earlier onset of the symptoms.

According to a review from The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, 14% of 11-year-old children exhibited psychotic symptoms and these symptoms were linked to a 5-fold to 16-fold increased rate of psychotic illness in early adulthood. The same review showed that in interview-based studies the prevalence of psychotic symptoms in adolescents ranged from 9% to 14% whereas self-report questionnaires showed rates as high as 25%.

The prevalence of psychotic symptoms in older adults was 5.2% in a study of the Asian population, published in the International Psychogeriatrics. In a paper from Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, the overall incidence of affective psychosis among older adults is estimated to be 30.9 per 100,000 person-years. The term affective psychosis refers to symptoms of psychosis and mood episodes.

When it comes to specific disorders, schizophrenia affects around 24 million people in the world or 0.32% of the population. In other words, it affects one in 300 people. In the United States, schizophrenia affects 2.8 million adults or 1.1% of the population.

Childhood schizophrenia is rare; about 0.4% of children in the United States are affected. The prevalence of schizophrenia is higher in adolescence, with 0.23% of teens having this mental illness. Between 0.1% and 0.5% of people aged 65 or older have schizophrenia, whereas the prevalence among the 45-64 years age group is 0.6%.

Men and women are equally affected by schizophrenia, but males usually develop this mental illness between the ages of 15 and 25. On the other hand, women tend to develop schizophrenia between 20 and 35 years of age.

Other psychotic disorders are also rare. For example, the prevalence of delusional disorder in the United States is 0.02%, according to Medscape. A paper from Psychiatry Research revealed that the female-to-male ratio of the prevalence of the delusional disorder is 1.6:1.

Since these disorders are uncommon, data regarding their prevalence is scarce.

What are the causes of psychotic disorder?

psychotic disorder causes

There are no specific causes of psychotic disorder. In other words, there is no specific cause that leads to the onset of psychotic disorder symptoms on its own. Most psychotic disorders are multifactorial conditions, meaning multiple factors are involved in their development. The biggest causes of the psychotic disorder are listed below:

  • Genetic factors
  • Stress
  • Drug abuse

1. Genetic factors

Genetic factors refer to the heredity of psychotic disorders due to genetic mutations. Many mental illnesses tend to run in families, and psychotic disorder isn’t an exception.

According to a paper from JAMA Psychiatry, psychotic experiences are heritable. Several genes and their mutations are involved in the development of these disorders rather than just one gene.

Additionally, a review from the European Journal of Medical Genetics confirmed psychotic disorders have a strong genetic component, but it is unclear how genetic mutations or variants cause these mental illnesses.

2. Stress

Stress is a normal reaction of the body as a response to any type of change that causes physical, emotional, or psychological strain. It’s the way humans react to stressful stimuli from the environment. While normal and healthy, stress can be a huge problem when it becomes persistent (chronic) or poorly managed.

When stress is unmanaged properly, it can cause a wide range of problems. It can also contribute to the development of the psychoactive disorder. Schizophrenia Bulletin published a paper that showed that stress plays a major role in the onset of psychosis.

Multiple mechanisms of action are involved. For example, stress may act on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, whose function is to mediate the principal adaptive response to stress.

In some cases, the stress response is enhanced, and the HPA axis triggers a chain of reactions that result in the dysfunction of neural circuits and changes in dopamine signaling. This could play a role in the development of psychosis and psychotic disorder. High levels of stress could affect the dopaminergic activity and thereby contribute to the development of this mental illness.

A paper from the CNS Spectrums also revealed stress could cause psychosis in vulnerable individuals through its impact on dopamine. More research on this subject is necessary to understand all the ways through which stress contributes to the development of psychotic disorder.

3. Drug abuse

Drug abuse is defined as the use of certain substances to experience pleasurable effects on the brain or the excessive, addictive, and maladaptive use of prescription medications for nonmedical purposes.

The earlier someone starts abusing drugs, the more susceptible they are to developing some mental conditions, including psychosis and psychotic disorders. Drug addiction contributes to psychotic disorders because it creates a biological vulnerability that makes the brain more prone to changes that lead to psychosis. Early exposure to substances is particularly problematic because the brain is still developing, and psychoactive drugs can affect that process.

Not only does the use of drugs contribute to psychotic disorder, but withdrawal from them as well.

What are the symptoms of psychotic disorder?

The symptoms of psychotic disorder vary from one type to another. Also, people can experience these disorders differently. Some patients may have disordered forms of thinking, disorganized speech, movements, and behaviors, whereas others may not. That said, hallmark symptoms of the psychotic disorder are listed below:

symptoms of psychotic disorder
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions

1. Hallucinations

Hallucination is defined as a false sensory experience. To the affected person, hallucinations may seem real, but they’re not. The most common hallucinations are auditory and visual i.e., involving hearing and sight. More precisely, a person with hallucinations may hear or see things that aren’t real. That said, some people may have hallucinations involving other senses.

The causes of hallucinations can be physical and psychological. These sensory experiences have a major impact on a person’s health and well-being. The effects are largely physical and behavioral.

The physical effects of hallucinations revolve around a lack of self-care, which can lead to numerous health problems ranging from tooth decay to weight gain and a higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Behavioral effects of hallucinations include frustration, anger, a high risk of self-harm, suicidal ideation, social withdrawal, and poor functioning at home or school. To others, people with hallucinations may come across as distant, disoriented, and not motivated to participate in activities with other interests.

2. Delusions

A delusion is defined as a false belief that contradicts reality and is not based on evidence or any argument that would validate it. The presence of delusions points to an abnormality in the content of thought. The main difference between hallucinations and delusions is that the latter is a false belief, whereas the former is a false sensory experience.

Misinterpretation of events reinforces delusions. Many delusions involve paranoia to some extent.

Like hallucinations, delusions have a strong impact on every aspect of a person’s life. Physical effects of delusions include poor blood sugar control, cardiovascular diseases, poor personal hygiene, periodontal disease and low energy levels. Behavioral effects of delusions include aggressiveness toward oneself and others, unusual or abnormal behavior, excessive antagonism, lack of motivation and emotion, and difficulty functioning in daily life.

What are the types of psychotic disorders?

Types of the psychotic disorder are listed below:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Schizophreniform disorder
  • Brief psychotic disorder
  • Delusional disorder
  • Shared psychotic disorder
  • Substance-induced psychotic disorder
  • Paraphrenia

1. Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder indicated by the abnormal perception of reality. It causes psychosis and is linked to significant disability. Schizophrenia is often mistaken for multiple personality disorder (now known as dissociative identity disorder), as people think people with schizophrenia have several personalities. The reality is that persons with schizophrenia don’t have multiple personalities; their mental illness consists of hallucinations and other symptoms.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the exact cause of schizophrenia is still unknown. Scientists theorize that the interaction between genes and several environmental factors could play a role. Brain chemistry, such as the impaired balance of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate, and changes in brain structure may also contribute to the development of schizophrenia. Other potential causes of schizophrenia include pregnancy and birth complications such as malnutrition and exposure to viruses and chemicals in the womb. Alcohol and drug abuse, particularly the use of mind-altering or hallucinogenic drugs, can also contribute to the onset of schizophrenia.

Symptoms of schizophrenia are positive and negative. Positive symptoms are thoughts and behaviors that a person didn’t have before schizophrenia. Examples are hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, and abnormal motor behavior. On the other hand, negative symptoms are behaviors or thoughts and skills that schizophrenia impaired. Good examples of negative symptoms are social withdrawal, lack of personal hygiene, lack of emotion, and lack of ability to feel pleasure.

Schizophrenia has a wide range of effects on a person’s life and well-being. When left untreated, it can lead to anxiety and depression, substance abuse, social isolation, inability to work or attend school, financial problems, health and medical problems, aggressiveness, and suicidal thoughts and tendencies.

The main difference between schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, such as brief psychotic disorder, is in the duration of psychosis. Unlike delusional disorder, schizophrenia includes other positive and negative symptoms as well, not just delusions. The substance-induced psychotic disorder occurs mainly due to substance abuse, whereas schizophrenia is a more complicated psychotic disorder that occurs due to a combination of different factors.

When it comes to comparison to other mental disorders, schizophrenia is characterized by psychosis and changes the way people think, feel, behave, and perceive reality.

2. Schizoaffective disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is a combination of symptoms of schizophrenia and a mood disorder. Since this disorder is poorly studied, many people are diagnosed either with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder despite having symptoms of both illnesses.

While the exact cause of schizoaffective disorder is unknown, genetics is a likely factor i.e., it tends to run in families. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, brain function and structure may be different in people with schizoaffective disorder. Other potential causes of this disorder are stress or trauma and drug use.

Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder tend to vary from one person to another. People with this disorder tend to experience schizophrenia symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, bizarre or unusual behavior, and impaired speech. At the same time, they also experience symptoms of bipolar disorder, such as periods of manic (euphoric) mood, depression, problems with managing personal care, and impaired occupational and social functioning.

Effects of schizoaffective disorder, especially if not managed properly, include social isolation, unemployment, anxiety, depression, interpersonal and family conflicts, substance abuse, health problems, poverty, and suicidal thoughts and tendencies.

What makes schizoaffective disorder different from schizophrenia is that the latter doesn’t include symptoms of bipolar disorder. It also differs from other psychotic disorders because of the length of psychosis (psychotic episode lasts at least two weeks), and unlike delusional disorder, schizoaffective disorder involves manic and depressive symptoms besides delusions.

The similarity between this and other psychotic disorders on the list is the presence of psychosis.

3. Schizophreniform disorder

Schizophreniform disorder is a psychotic illness indicated by symptoms that last six months or less. The Medical News Today describes it as a placeholder for a schizophrenia diagnosis. Since people with schizophreniform disorder have psychosis, they believe things that are contrary to reality and have sensory experiences that other people do not.

Since the schizophreniform disorder is a multifactorial disease, several factors could be involved in its development. Potential causes include genetics, childhood trauma, and exposure to certain viruses in an infant’s development. Additionally, hormonal and chemical changes can also contribute to the development of the schizophreniform disorder. Environmental factors such as low birth weight, preeclampsia in the mother during pregnancy, and being born in winter are also contributing factors to the onset of schizophreniform disorder.

The primary symptom of schizophreniform disorder is psychosis, which includes delusions, hallucinations, and chaotic or unusual thinking. These symptoms may cause anxiety and paranoia. Other symptoms of schizophreniform disorder include low motivation, depression-like symptoms, and changes in speech.

The biggest effects of schizophreniform disorder include developing schizophrenia, depression, and a high risk of suicide.

Schizophreniform disorder is different from schizophrenia because the latter is a lifelong condition. On the flip side, schizophreniform disorder is temporary. Duration of psychosis is the main feature that makes schizophreniform disorder stand out in the group of psychotic disorders. Compared to delusional disorder, which involves delusions as the primary symptom, schizophreniform disorder is indicated by psychosis and symptoms such as loss of interest.

Similarity between schizophreniform and other psychotic disorders is in their causes and symptoms of psychosis. For example, schizophreniform disorder also includes symptoms such as impaired perception of reality and bizarre behaviors.

4. Brief psychotic disorder

A brief psychotic disorder is the presence of one or more psychotic symptoms with a sudden onset and full remission within one month. The symptoms of this disorder last between 24 hours and 30 days. While people get into remission quickly, there’s a potential for relapse in the future.

The main causes of the brief psychotic disorder are extreme stress or trauma.

Symptoms of this disorder include delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech. People may have catatonic or disorganized and odd behaviors as well.

Effects of the brief psychotic disorder include anxiety, impaired performance at home or school, and problems with relationships due to odd behaviors.

The brief psychotic disorder differs from schizophrenia because the latter is a long-term condition. Additionally, as opposed to schizophreniform disorder, which lasts around six months, brief psychotic disorder lasts up to a month.

The main similarity between brief psychotic disorders and other disorders is the presence of psychosis and odd or strange behaviors.

5. Delusional disorder

Delusional disorder is a type of mental illness wherein a person doesn’t know what’s real or imagined. People with this disorder have one or more delusions i.e., false beliefs in something that’s not true or not based on evidence and reality.

There are different types of delusional disorders, such as erotomanic, grandiose, jealous, persecutory, somatic, and mixed. Someone with erotomanic delusions believes someone, e.g,. a celebrity is in love with them, whereas grandiose delusions include an over-inflated sense of self-worth.

A person with the jealous type of delusions believes their significant other is unfaithful without any evidence. Persecutory delusions are beliefs of being mistreated or threatened by someone. Somatic delusions are beliefs of having a medical problem. People with mixed delusions usually have more than one type of other delusions.

The most likely causes of delusional disorder are genetic predisposition, abnormalities in certain brain areas, imbalance of brain neurotransmitters, and environmental and psychological factors, including stress, alcoholism and substance abuse, suspicion and envy.

Symptoms of the delusional disorder may depend on the type of delusion. People with jealous or persecutory delusions may exhibit anger and violent behavior. Patients with delusional disorder may also experience symptoms such as holding grudges, feelings of being exploited, and being preoccupied with the loyalty of others.

Effects of delusional disorder include depression, legal issues, and self-harm or harm to others.

Delusional disorder is different from schizophrenia because it doesn’t involve psychotic symptoms other than delusions. The same is the difference between this and other types of psychotic disorder.

The presence of delusions i.e. psychosis, is the main similarity between delusional disorder and other mental illnesses on this list.

6. Shared psychotic disorder

Shared psychotic disorder, also known as folie à deux, is a rare mental illness that two or more people in a close relationship share. In this disorder, an inducer (or primary) is a person with psychotic disorder and delusions. The inducer influences people (secondary) without psychotic disorder based on delusional beliefs. In most cases, shared psychotic disorder affects two people, but sometimes it can include larger groups, even families.

Multiple causes are associated with a shared psychotic disorder. For example, primary and secondary may be socially isolated from the outside world, which can contribute to the onset of symptoms. Other potential causes are high levels of chronic stress, the close connection between primary and secondary, an untreated disorder such as schizophrenia, and an age difference between two people.

Additionally, temperament plays a role. For example, the primary can be dominant, whereas the secondary is submissive, which gives in to keep peace and later beliefs in delusions. A secondary person may be neurotic, passive, and struggle with critical thinking. They may also have another mental illness, such as depression. Shared psychotic disorder can also occur when the secondary is mentally or physically dependent on the primary. Being female is also among the factors that contribute to the development of a shared psychotic disorder.

Symptoms of a shared psychotic disorder depend on the specific diagnosis of the primary. The disorder mainly includes delusions, but the secondary develops them gradually. In addition to this symptom, the affected individuals are paranoid, fearful, and suspicious of others. They can also be angry and defensive.

Since neither of the affected persons is aware what they believe isn’t true, the disorder can affect how they behave. The effects of this disorder may extend to problems with physical health due to high levels of cortisol (stress hormone). Other effects include anxiety, depression, and struggles with aspects of daily living.

The biggest difference between this and other psychotic disorders is that shared psychotic disorder affects two or more people. One person has a specific psychotic illness, whereas the other develops delusions.

The similarity between these disorders is in delusions as symptoms and the effects on daily living.

7. Substance-induced psychotic disorder

The substance-induced psychotic disorder is a mental illness where the onset of psychotic symptoms is associated with starting or stopping drug use. In other words, the condition occurs with intoxication or withdrawal.

These drugs can include prescription medications such as analgesics, anticholinergics, antiepileptics, antidepressants, steroids, muscle relaxants, disulfiram, and medications for Parkinson’s disease. Psychoactive substances are usually involved with this disorder, and they include cannabis, alcohol, PCP, hallucinogens, inhalants, stimulants, hypnotics, and sedatives.

Even though it’s called a substance-induced psychotic disorder, the substance alone doesn’t cause the symptoms of psychosis. Instead, drugs can trigger psychosis in people who are at a higher risk of developing these symptoms. Co-occurring mental health disorders can contribute to the development of this mental illness. Being male, or younger than 30, can also increase the risk of substance-induced psychotic disorder.

Symptoms of the substance-induced psychotic disorder are hallucinations and delusions. Duration of symptoms depends on the medical history of a person, when the substance was ingested, the type of the substance, and the amount taken.

Effects of this disorder include trouble taking care of oneself, social withdrawal, and communication problems.

Unlike schizophrenia, this disorder is usually temporary, with symptoms lasting under a month. Once the withdrawal process completes, people tend to stop experiencing symptoms of substance-induced psychotic disorder. It is important to note that people don’t experience psychosis before substance use or withdrawal. What makes this disorder different from others is that drugs or other substances are the main triggers.

The similarity between substance-induced psychotic disorder and other conditions on this list is in symptoms of psychosis. Similar to schizophreniform and brief psychotic disorder, this condition is also temporary.

8. Paraphrenia

Paraphrenia is a mental illness characterized by paranoid delusions. A person with paraphrenia experiences imaginary anxieties or fears that are usually exaggerated. However, the disorder doesn’t affect their intellectual capabilities. Paraphrenia usually affects older adults.

It’s not entirely clear what causes paraphrenia, but severe neurological illness and stressful or traumatic personal situations are strongly involved. More precisely, tumors, stroke, damage to the nerves or blood vessels, injuries, or other problems can affect the brain’s functioning. This changes the response to external stimuli. At the same time, since older adults tend to be more socially isolated, they may not be able to process stress and trauma in a healthy manner, which could also contribute to paraphrenia development.

The main symptoms of paraphrenia include paranoid delusions and hallucinations.

Effects of paraphrenia extend to poor physical health, higher risk of weight gain and diabetes. Paraphrenia further contributes to anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal.

The main difference between paraphrenia and other psychotic disorders is that paranoid delusions are the prominent symptom. In other disorders, people may or may not have this specific type of delusion. This mental illness usually affects older adults, whereas other types do not. While other psychotic disorders affect cognitive skills and daily life functioning, paraphrenia doesn’t necessarily.

The similarity between paraphrenia and other disorders on this list is the presence of psychosis and the potential role of extreme stress or trauma in its development.

Who is affected by psychotic disorder?

The psychotic disorder affects people between the ages of 15 and 35. It also tends to affect people whose family members have a history of some psychotic disorder or other mental illness. People who abuse drugs, especially hallucinogenic substances, are also affected by a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia. Men are slightly more affected by psychotic disorder than women, although in terms of prevalence, this difference isn’t too significant.

What are the risk factors for psychotic disorder?

Risk factors for psychotic disorder may vary from one type to another. Common risk factors for the psychotic disorder are listed below:

  • Family history of psychotic disorder
  • Alcohol and drug misuse, especially mind-altering substances
  • History of brain injury
  • Brain tumor or cyst
  • Living in an urban environment
  • Culture such as immigrant status
  • Some personality traits such as sensitivity or narcissism
  • Lower socioeconomic status
  • Extreme stress or trauma
  • Pregnancy and birth complications such as low birth weight, malnutrition, and exposure to viruses and chemicals in the womb

How is psychotic disorder diagnosed?

how is psychotic disorder diagnosed

The psychotic disorder is diagnosed after physical and psychiatric evaluation. The healthcare provider performs a physical exam to determine whether the symptoms result from some specific medical problem or substance abuse.

For that reason, they may order blood tests, urine tests, and imaging tests such as MRIs. If these tests show the symptoms aren’t related to a physical cause, a healthcare provider will refer a patient to a psychiatrist for psychiatric evaluation.

The psychiatric evaluation consists of checking a patient’s mental status. The psychiatrist does so by asking questions about symptoms, thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. They also ask patients about their hallucinations, delusions, potential substance abuse, and whether they experience suicidal or violent thoughts and tendencies. To get a closer picture of a patient’s mental status, a psychiatrist may also interview their family.

The psychiatrist uses DSM-5 to diagnose a specific psychotic disorder. They compare symptoms to diagnostic criteria and then propose the most suitable treatment approach.

How to prevent psychotic disorder?

There is no certain way to prevent psychotic disorder. The causes of psychotic disorders are largely unclear, which is why there is no specific prevention strategy. What people with a family history of the psychotic disorder can do to reduce the risk or delay the onset of psychotic disorder revolves around avoiding drugs and alcohol. When taking prescription medications that act on the brain, make sure to adhere to the instructions and doctor’s recommendations.

Make sure to get help for extreme stress and trauma in order to process them in a healthy manner. Keep strong social ties, participate in activities with friends, family, or coworkers, and communicate openly. Stick to the treatment plan in order to prevent future episodes of psychosis or reduce their frequency.

What are the treatments for psychotic disorder?

Treatments for the psychotic disorder are listed below:

woman having psychotherapy session
  • Medications: the first-line treatment for symptoms of psychotic disorder. Doctors usually prescribe antipsychotic medications that work by blocking serotonin or dopamine receptors in the brain. That way, they prevent or reduce delusions and hallucinations. It’s useful to mention that antipsychotics aren’t suitable for patients with a substance-induced psychotic disorder. In that case, medications depend on the specific substance that a patient uses. The healthcare provider may also prescribe other medications, such as antidepressants, to help patients manage their symptoms. It can take a few weeks for antipsychotics to work. According to a paper from the Current Opinion in Psychiatry, patients usually need to take antipsychotic medications for one to two years, but the doctor is the one who decides the treatment length and dosage of the medications.
  • Psychotherapy: a combination of medications and therapy may work best for patients with a psychotic disorder. Different types of psychotherapy can help with symptoms, but the most effective is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The role of CBT is to change thought patterns that lead to delusions and hallucinations. Patients learn to recognize negative or unrealistic thought patterns and replace them with more realistic alternatives. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the premise that thoughts influence emotions and behaviors. Evidence confirms that CBT helps improve symptoms of psychosis, including both positive and negative symptoms. This type of therapy also helps patients cope with trauma and learn skills for better functioning in daily life. The exact number of sessions depends on the severity of symptoms and a patient’s progress. In most cases, a minimum of 16 sessions is necessary for at least six months.

Do psychotic disorders have a cure?

No, psychotic disorders do not have a cure but they can be managed. A good example is schizophrenia, a lifelong condition. Psychosis itself isn’t curable, but it is manageable. That happens because medications do not tackle the underlying cause; they act on the symptoms. Patients can adhere to the treatment in order to prevent or reduce the frequency of future episodes. However, people can fully recover from some psychotic disorders, such as brief psychotic disorders. Another example is a schizophreniform disorder, where patients recover within six months. People can also treat substance-induced psychosis.

What is the difference between psychotic disorder and schizophrenia?

The difference between psychotic disorder and schizophrenia is that the latter is a mental illness, whereas the former is a category. More precisely, psychotic disorder is an umbrella term that includes conditions characterized by symptoms of psychosis. Schizophrenia is one of those conditions; it’s a type of psychotic disorder.

When it comes to psychotic disorder vs. schizophrenia, it’s important to mention that symptoms of psychosis may occur due to several specific factors, not just due to this specific mental illness. Schizophrenia is the most common type of psychotic disorder, but not the only one.