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Psychotic Disorders

Updated on June 21, 2010

The word psychotic is used quite frequently, usually incorrectly. People may use the word to describe some who is evil, or irrational however the true definition of a “psychotic” person is one who perceives reality in an altered or distorted state.

One who is suffering from a psychotic disorder may simply suffer from paranoia or delusions; they could also be experiencing auditory, visual, and even tactile hallucinations.


Schizophrenia a very well known form of psychosis; the form most often depicted in television and movies is paranoid however there are other types. Someone does not just wake up schizophrenic. Changes in the brain begin happening months, possibly even years before the afflicted and those around them really notice them.

The three most common types of schizophrenia are paranoid, catatonic, and disorganized; all three display themselves in different ways.

One who is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia will be much more anxious and argumentative usually with delusions of persecution or grandeur. Obsession with religion or the occult is not uncommon.

A catatonic schizophrenic is less able to care for themselves, less sensitive to pain; they seem as if they are in a stupor with rigid muscles. They may come across as agitated.

Disorganized schizophrenics suffer from delusions, childlike or inappropriate behavior, and can be socially withdrawn.

Schizophrenia affects approximately 1% of the world’s population.

Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is a psychotic disorder that causes the sufferer to lose contact with reality and have mild to severe mood problems. Usually one who suffers from schizoaffective disorder will have paranoia, the belief that someone on the tv or radio is speaking to them, or poor control over their mood.

While schizoaffective disorder bears similarities to schizophrenia there are differences. Schizoaffective disorder has periods in which the person’s mood may stabilize for a brief period of time before repeating the cycle back into psychosis. Schizophrenia does not have this.

Delusional Disorder

Delusional Disorder is a serious type of psychotic disorder in which the afflicted cannot distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. The belief may have absolutely no basis in reality whatsoever however the afflicted will have unshakeable faith that their delusion is in fact true.

One factor that makes those suffering from delusional disorder different from those who are suffering from other psychotic disorders is that most who are suffering from delusional disorder to not display bizarre behavior in public.

Delusional disorder generally occurs in mid to late life and is more common in women than men.

Substance Induced Psychotic Disorder

A substance induced psychotic disorder is psychosis which is induced during withdrawal or intoxication from a substance. Substance abused psychotic disorders can manifest themselves up to four weeks after a person has stopped using the substance.

During this period a person could have hallucinations, delusions, and could be extremely dangerous. Generally symptoms will subside once the substance has been completely eliminated from the body.

The most common drugs to cause a substance induced psychotic disorder are: amphetamines, cocaine, hallucinogens, and PCP.

Psychotic Disorder due to a Medical Condition

Psychosis due to a medical condition is generally diagnosed once all other causes have been ruled out. The patient does not have a recent history of substance abuse, there is no evidence pointing to another psychotic disorder, yet they are suffering from an illness.

Brain injuries, Huntington’s disease, systemic lupus erthematosus, and a number of other diseases can cause psychosis.  It is important to note however psychosis does not generally coincide with delirium.

The person afflicted could experience a short bout of psychosis or a recurring form. It varies person to person.


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