Brief Psychotic Disorder

Ever seen anyone who occasionally behaves and dresses in a very strange fashion, but is completely normal otherwise? It may be a case of Brief Psychotic Disorder (BPD), a short term mental condition, which the person is possibly suffering from. Read and find out more about the causes, symptoms, treatment options and prognosis of this condition.

Brief Psychotic Disorder Definition

It is a temporary psychological condition that gives rise to one or more common symptoms of Psychosis, such as delusions, strange bodily movements, hallucinations and peculiar speech pattern. At least 1 of the principal psychosis symptoms must be present in a BDP patient for less than a month.

Brief Psychotic Disorder Causes

The exact causes of this disorder are still not clear. According to some theories, this is a genetic condition that is believed to arise due to a combination of mental and external factors. Some of the commonly suspected factors for this disorder are believed to be:

Picture of Brief Psychotic Disorder

Picture 1 – Brief Psychotic Disorder

Mental Stress

BPD is often supposed to arise due to severe stress, which may involve bereavement. However, a suffering individual tends to return to normalcy once the source of the mental stress subsides.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum hormonal change may also result into a BPD attack shortly after childbirth.

Personality Disorder

As per researches, individuals with some personality disorders are more prone to this disorder when under stress. This is due to the fact that the adult mechanisms of sufferers of personality disorders often do not develop properly.

Brief Psychotic Disorder Symptoms

Patients of BPD are always found to exhibit one or more psychosis symptoms. However, these symptoms are not evident in the daily life of a patient. These are only experienced by him/her during brief periods of attack. The most common symptoms of this brief psychological disorder are:


Hallucination refers to a sensory perception of imaginary objects. Patients of this disorder experience various types of hallucinations including seeing things, hearing voices and feeling sensations on the skin despite absence of such objects.


This is a condition that makes patients hold on to some false assumptions that they refuse to give up under any circumstances, even while facing contradictory facts.

Some other symptoms commonly observed in BPD patients include:

  • Disorganized thinking
  • Unusual behavior and attire
  • Problems with memory
  • Language and speech that do not make sense
  • Disorientation
  • Mental confusion
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Weight change
  • Increased or decreased energy level

Brief Psychotic Disorder Tests and Diagnosis

Special DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria are generally used for identifying the symptoms of Brief Psychotic Disorder. The duration, over which psychosis symptoms are experienced, is considered to be a very important diagnosis criterion as it forms the main differential factor between three different major psychotic disorders.

  • If an individual has suffered from the symptoms for a period of a few days to one month, he or she is said to be suffering from BPD.
  • If the signs have been present for over a month but less than six months, the individual is considered to be a patient of Schizophreniform Disorder.
  • If an individual has suffered from the symptoms for over six months, he or she is regarded as a sufferer of Schizophrenia.

The symptoms of Brief Psychotic Disorder can be similar to those of mania or Delusional Disorder present in Bipolar Disorder.

There are no accurate laboratory tests for the diagnosis of BPD. However, a doctor may use various tests, including x-rays and blood tests, to rule out any possibility of a physical disorder causing the symptoms.

Brief Psychotic Disorder Prevention

Extreme mental stress, due to any natural disaster or some personal loss, is one of the major suspected causes of this disorder. Post-crisis counseling and proper social support can assist susceptible individuals to combat stress and prevent this disorder.

Brief Psychotic Disorder and Schizophrenia

Clinicians often believe BPD as an early stage of Schizophrenia, which is a more permanent mental condition. This is due to the many similarities in the symptoms of these two disorders. In most cases, the symptoms of a BPD patient deteriorate with time. The condition can lead to Schizophrenia unless diagnosed at an earlier stage.

Brief Psychotic Disorder and Postpartum Psychosis

Some women may suffer from BPD shortly after childbirth. In such cases, the condition is often referred to as “postpartum psychosis”. However, the disorder is often misdiagnosed which may lead the patient to commit suicide or kill her own newborn child.

Brief Psychotic Disorder Treatment and Medication

The treatment for BPD varies according to the symptoms present in patients and the duration for which are suffering from the condition. Various medications and therapies are useful for the management of this disease. Early diagnosis allows more time to cure the disorder completely. If the disorder reaches an advanced stage, patients would require hospitalization. This is because there is always a chance that they may harm themselves or people around them. Two of the main treatment options for this disorder are:

Image of Brief Psychotic Disorder

Picture 2 – Brief Psychotic Disorder Image


Doctors often prescribe different antipsychotic drugs to cure the brief attack by eliminating or reducing the symptoms. The antipsychotics generally used for this purpose include

  • Navane
  • Prolixin
  • Thorazine
  • Mellaril
  • Trilafon
  • Stelazine
  • Haldol

Many new drugs are also used for treating BPD, such as:

  • Clozaril
  • Seroquel
  • Zyprexa
  • Risperdal
  • Geodon

In case a patient is suffering from extreme anxiety, doctors may use tranquilizers like Ativan and Valium.


It helps BPD patients identify and properly handle the situation that triggered the psychological disorder.

Brief Psychotic Disorder Care Plan and Guidelines

There are many support groups that help the families of BPD patients to cope with the situation. These groups guide and teach relatives of affected individuals about the importance of family support in the treatment of the disorder.

Brief Psychotic Disorder Prognosis

The prognosis or outcome of this disorder is quite positive as it does not last for long duration. In most cases, individuals having BPD can return to normal day-to-day activities after receiving proper treatment. People having some type of personality disorder along with BPD have a relatively negative prognosis compared to those who suffer from the condition due to some mental trauma.

Brief Psychotic Disorder Recurrence

The possibility of recurrence of BPD is generally very low if the disorder is triggered by some traumatic event or mental stress. However, the condition is likelier to recur if it is initiated by a personality syndrome instead of any specific event or experience. In these cases, BPD may be an initial symptom of Schizophrenia.

Brief Psychotic Disorder Prevalence

The incidence of BPD is considered to be ten times higher in developing countries than in developed nations such as the United States. However, many women suffer from BPD in the US. Women are, in fact, twice more susceptible to the condition as compared to men. The disorder generally affects individuals between their late-thirties and early-forties in age.

Brief Psychotic Disorder in Famous People

Some well-known people and celebrities, believed to have this disorder, are

  • Donald Trump
  • Ian Puleston-Davies
  • Cameron Diaz
  • Dr. Samuel Johnson
  • Jim Eisenreich

BPD is a temporary condition which cannot be halted or prevented at the outset by some drugs. However, early diagnosis makes it possible to cure the condition completely and allows patients to lead a long and normal life.


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