Brief psychotic disorder

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Brief psychotic disorder is a period of psychosis whose duration is generally shorter, not always non-recurring, but can be and not caused by another condition.


The disorder is characterized by a sudden onset of psychotic symptoms, which may include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech or behavior, or catatonic behavior. The symptoms must not be caused by schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder or mania in bipolar disorder. They must also not be caused by a drug (such as amphetamines) or medical condition (such as a brain tumor). The term bouffée délirante describes an acute nonaffective and nonschizophrenic psychotic disorder, which is largely similar to DSM-III-R and DSM-IV brief psychotic and schizophreniform disorders.[1]

Symptoms generally last at least a day, but not more than a month, and there is an eventual return to full baseline functioning. It may occur in response to a significant stressor in one's life, or in other situations where a stressor is not apparent, including in the weeks following birth. In diagnosis, a careful distinction is considered for culturally appropriate behaviors, such as religious beliefs and activities. It is believed to be connected to or synonymous with a variety of culture-specific phenomena such as latah, koro, and amok.[2]

There are three forms of brief psychotic disorder: 1. Brief psychotic disorder with a stressor, such as a trauma or death in the family. 2. Brief psychotic disorder without a stressor, there is no obvious stressor. 3. Brief psychotic disorder with postpartum onset. Usually occurs about four weeks after giving birth.


The exact incidence and prevalence of brief psychotic disorder is not known, but it is generally considered uncommon.[3] Internationally, it occurs twice as often in women than men, and even more often in women in the United States. It typically occurs in the late 30s and early 40s.[2] The exact cause of brief psychotic disorder is not known. One theory suggests a genetic link, because the disorder is more common in people who have family members with mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder. Another theory suggests that the disorder is caused by poor coping skills, as a defense against or escape from a particularly frightening or stressful situation. These factors may create a vulnerability to develop brief psychotic disorder. In most cases, the disorder is triggered by a major stress or traumatic event. Childbirth may trigger the disorder in some women.[4] Approximately 1 in 10,000 women experience brief psychotic disorder shortly after childbirth.[5]

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