Brief psychotic disorder is a rare condition in which individuals experience psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions for a short period. The onset most commonly affects people in their 20s, 30s or 40s. Duration of episodes could last one day or up to a month. After a psychotic episode, a person resumes a pre-morbid level of functioning, all activities with no permanent symptoms or impairment. 

There are 3 types of Brief psychotic disorder:

  1. Brief psychotic disorder with an obvious stressor. This is triggered by extreme stress or trauma.  For example, the loss of a loved one, or a traumatic accident 
  2. Brief psychotic disorder without obvious stressor. This type there are no obvious trauma or stress triggers.
  3. Brief psychotic disorder with postpartum onset. This happens in women and usually occurs within 4 weeks of having a baby.

Risk Factors 

  • People who have an antisocial personality disorder and/or paranoid personality disorder have an increased risk.
  • Experiencing significant life stressors
  • Family history of psychotic disorder
  • Pregnancy or 4 weeks postnatal

Diagnosis can only be made if other drug-induced, medical, neurological, or other psychiatric conditions can be excluded as causes.


Symptoms of brief psychotic disorder may include the following:

  • Experiencing hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that aren’t there)
  • Experiencing delusions (holding false beliefs regardless of them being disproved)
  • Disorganized thoughts (switching quickly between topics or saying strange things)
  • Dressing in unusual or unkempt ways 
  • Having memory or attention problems 
  • Seeming disoriented or confused 
  • Adopting strange sleep patterns 
  • Being unable to make decisions 
  • Behavior that is odd or out of character
  • Strange speech or language

The diagnosis of brief psychotic disorder will be reevaluated if symptoms last more than one month. Other diagnoses will be considered, such as schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

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