Brief Psychotic Disorder

ByCarol Tamminga, MD, UT Southwestern Medical Dallas
Reviewed/Revised Apr 2022 | Modified Sep 2022
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    Brief psychotic disorder consists of delusions, hallucinations, or other psychotic symptoms for at least 1 day but 1 month, with eventual return to normal premorbid functioning.

    Brief psychotic disorder is uncommon. Preexisting personality disorders (eg, paranoid, histrionic, narcissistic, schizotypal, borderline), as well as certain medical conditions (eg, systemic lupus, steroid ingestion), predispose to its development. A major stressor, such as loss of a loved one, may precipitate the disorder.

    Patients with the disorder manifest at least one psychotic symptom for < 1 month:

    • Delusions

    • Hallucinations

    • Disorganized speech

    • Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior

    Brief psychotic disorder is not diagnosed if a psychotic mood disorder, a schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, a physical disorder, or an adverse drug effect (therapeutic or recreational) better accounts for the symptoms.

    Differentiating between brief psychotic disorder and schizophrenia in a patient without any prior psychotic symptoms is based on duration of symptoms; if the duration exceeds 1 month, the patient no longer meets required diagnostic criteria for brief psychotic disorder.

    Treatment of brief psychotic disorder is similar to treatment of an acute exacerbation of schizophrenia; supervision and short-term treatment with antipsychotics may be required.

    Relapse is common, but patients typically function well between episodes and have few or no symptoms.

    (See also Introduction to Schizophrenia and Related Disorders.)

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