Brief Psychotic Disorder (BPD)

PsychologyAbnormal Psychology

You might have seen, a few people lost their reality realization and claim something that actually does not exist. This condition can be very frightening for the person experiencing it and those around them. It is important to get help if a person thinks he or someone he knows may be struggling with this illness

What is Brief Psychotic Disorder (BPD)?

Brief Psychotic Disorder is a serious mental illness that can cause a person to lose touch with reality. Psychosis means losing touch with reality. Psychosis involves many symptoms like delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, etc. Brief Psychotic Disorder (BPD) is a psychotic episode that lasts only a short time – less than a month. After one month, it is remitted and has a chance of relapse. Though BPD should only last for a month and completely remit after a month, recurrent episodes can lead to schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorders. This can also lead to mood or personality disorders. This might be the case, as psychosis can occur comorbid with any disorder. Any disorder is on a continuum and can range from less intensity to severe effects.

The symptoms of BPD can overlap with symptoms of other psychotic disorders, and it is important to differentiate between them and then only diagnose the person with Brief Psychotic Disorder. Other diagnoses that can be considered include Psychotic Affective Disorder, personality disorders, Delusional Disorders, and Substance use disorder. The main component differentiating BPD from these is its duration, as BPD should only last for a month, and if it lasts for more than a month, then other things are needed to be considered.

Types of Brief Psychotic Disorder

Following are the three types of BPD−

  • BPD with obvious stressor is a psychotic episode can occur if one has been through some traumatic event like death or abuse. This is a reaction to trauma, and it is also called Brief Reactive Psychosis

  • BPD without obvious stressors occurs when a psychotic episode is triggered without any major traumatic event

  • BPD with postpartum onset happens in women within the four weeks of having a baby. In this, the delivery of the baby triggers the episode.

Symptoms of BPD

Like other psychotic illnesses, BPD also has somewhat the same symptoms

  • Delusions are false beliefs held on inadequate grounds. For example, a person has a delusion that their partner is cheating on them

  • Hallucinations refer to the experience of a stimulus, but there are no stimuli present. There are many types of hallucinations like Audio Hallucinations (talking to someone or someone talking to them), Visual hallucinations (seeing someone who is not present there), Tactile hallucinations (bodily sensation), and many more

  • Disorganized speech: People with BPD cannot communicate properly, and their symptoms interfere with their communication. For example, they might shift from one topic to another in a very fast and rapid manner, thus messing up their speech.

  • Catatonic Behavior: In this, people with psychosis have retarded motor movements. They might sit in one place without moving for hours or take weird and abnormal positions.

For anyone to be diagnosed with BPD, any of these symptoms should be present and should last between a day to a month. In movies, it is usually depicted that someone is hearing voices or taking abnormal positions, which are not very comfortable to watch. These might be the signs of psychosis that are ignored and misrepresented in movies. A person with psychosis should not be labeled as “mental" or "possessed." Psychosis is frequently a result of going through extreme trauma


Though this disorder is not much researched, it is observed that it occurs mostly in people who have been through stress, such as immigrants, refugees, earthquake victims, etc. This might be because these sudden and acute stressful situations could trigger psychosis. BPD is mostly found in developing countries rather than developed countries and is also found more in women and those with a personality disorder

Risk Factors of BPD

Substances and alcohol trigger some psychotic episodes. Drugs can interfere with normal functioning and lead to hallucinations or delusions as they increase or decrease your alertness and consciousness. Some medications can also trigger psychosis, but not every medicine is related to this.

Genetic factors are considered a major component of psychosis; schizophrenia runs in families and has a high heritability. If the parents or first-degree relative have had such an episode, then it is a high chance that the children may have it. Multiple genes are involved in the development of psychosis, and the behaviors adopted during prenatal and perinatal influence the development of such disorders. Neurotransmitters also form the biological basis for psychotic disorders. The main neurotransmitters involved are Dopamine, Serotonin, and Glutamate


BPD can easily be treated thanks to medicines and psychotherapy. Medicines include Anti-Psychotic as they will help deal with the imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Psychotherapy will help manage the symptoms and relapse as sudden and chronic stress can be disrupting for the person to live through such an experience. Special attention should be paid to the events that might have triggered the psychotic episode.


Brief Psychotic Disorder is a type of disorder triggered by a very stressful situation, but the duration is only one month. It can be treated thanks to medications and therapy. After its course, it fully remits, but there is a high chance of relapse, and more relapses can lead to other psychotic states like schizophrenia or personality disorders. People with psychosis are highly misrepresented in movies and should be treated with equal respect and dignity

Updated on 13-Oct-2022 11:19:47