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Psychotic Disorders, Types, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment Options

Psychotic disorders are an umbrella term to describe multiple types of mental health conditions that involve a phenomenon called psychosis. Psychosis itself is characterized by an impaired relationship with reality, often including confusion, hallucinations, and delusions. It’s estimated that 3 in every 100 people will experience psychosis at some point during their lives.

It’s important to note that psychosis is not present in all mental health disorders, and the symptoms vary greatly by individual. The term “psychotic disorder” tends to be used by some mental health professionals but isn’t always socially acceptable because of the stigmas attached to it.

Types of Psychotic Disorders

Psychosis is related to multiple types of mental health disorders. Below are the most commonly associated conditions.


Schizophrenia is one of the most common types of psychotic disorders and often has a genetic component. It can cause hallucinations — seeing or hearing things that don’t exist. Delusions are also possible, where you might believe things that are untrue.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by disruptions in thought processes, perceptions, emotional responsiveness, and social interactions. Although the course of schizophrenia varies among individuals, schizophrenia is typically persistent and can be both severe and disabling.

Psychotic Disorders
Psychotic disorders are an umbrella term to describe multiple types of mental health conditions that involve a phenomenon called psychosis.

Symptoms of schizophrenia include psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and thought disorder (unusual ways of thinking), as well as reduced expression of emotions, reduced motivation to accomplish goals, difficulty in social relationships, motor impairment, and cognitive impairment. Although symptoms typically start in late adolescence or early adulthood, schizophrenia is often viewed from a developmental perspective. 

Cognitive impairment and unusual behaviors sometimes appear in childhood, and the persistent presence of multiple symptoms represents a later stage of the disorder. This pattern may reflect disruptions in brain development as well as environmental factors such as prenatal or early life stress. This perspective fuels the hope that early interventions will improve the course of schizophrenia which is often severely disabling when left untreated.

Types Of Schizophrenia

Although the subtypes don’t exist as separate clinical disorders anymore, they can still be helpful as specifiers and for treatment planning. There are five classical subtypes:

  • Paranoid
  • Hebephrenic
  • Undifferentiated
  • Residual
  • Catatonic

Schizoaffective disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is a condition where you experience both psychosis and a mood disorder. It’s most notable for its mood disorder traits, such as depression and bipolar disorder. It can also cause hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions. Genetics and brain chemical changes are both thought to be possible causes of these psychotic disorders

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder that’s often characterized by cyclic changes between extreme highs (mania) and lows (depression). Symptoms of psychosis may occur during manic episodes, where you might experience a combination of hallucinations and delusions.


It’s estimated that around 10 percent of people with mental health disorders have a psychomotor syndrome called catatonia. While once considered a subtype of schizophrenia, catatonia is now recognized as its own mental illness. This condition can cause psychosis as well as impaired motor skills and speech.

Substance use disorder

Misusing drugs or alcohol is strongly related to the development of mental illness later in life. It’s thought that people in their early 20s with substance use issues may be especially vulnerable to the development of psychosis since their brains are still developing at this stage of life.

Psychotic Disorders
Schizoaffective disorder is a condition where you experience both psychosis and a mood disorder.

Sometimes psychosis may stem from depression, neurological disorders, and traumatic events. In other cases, certain aspects of psychosis may cause standalone symptoms, such as the case with delusional disorders.

Symptoms of Psychotic Disorders

The symptoms of Psychotic Disorders can vary between mental health disorders, but below are some possible signs:

  • Hallucinations, where you hear or see things that seem real to you
  • Social withdrawal
  • Neglected personal hygiene
  • Holding strong beliefs that aren’t actually true
  • Paranoia over people and situations around you
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Brain fog
  • Increased anxiety or agitation
  • Loss of interest or joy in your normal activities
  • Increased or decreased appetite

Causes of Psychotic Disorders

There’s no one cause of psychotic disorders. Genetics and brain chemical changes are strong links. Traumatic events, substance use, and underlying health conditions can sometimes lead to changes in the way your brain works.

Past research has indicated that dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate disruptions in the brain may cause certain psychotic disorders. However, there’s not enough evidence to associate anyone neurotransmitter disruption with psychosis.

Treatments for Psychotic Disorders

Psychotic disorders are most effectively treated with a combination of medications and therapies. A psychiatrist can help you determine what your needs are based on the severity of your condition.

Medication for Psychotic Disorders

Antipsychotic medications are among the first lines of treatment for psychosis. These help to block serotonin or dopamine receptors in your brain to prevent hallucinations and delusions. However, antipsychotics may not be appropriate for substance use-related psychosis. This largely depends on the substance used.

Low-dose benzodiazepines, a class of tranquilizers, may work best for catatonia. Your doctor may also recommend electroconvulsive therapy in some cases. If you have a mood disorder, your doctor may also recommend antidepressants. These help to improve depression-related symptoms, such as sadness and hopelessness.

Psychotic Disorders
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may be particularly helpful by changing the thought patterns that can lead to delusions and hallucinations.

Therapy Psychotic Disorders

Different forms of therapy are used in the treatment of psychosis:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be particularly helpful by changing the thought patterns that can lead to delusions and hallucinations.
  • Individual talk therapy may also help you work through your feelings, which can be useful in treating instances of trauma.
  • Psychoanalytic therapy can have a significant impact on the functioning of people with psychosis.
  • Some people also find group or family therapies helpful in psychosis management.
  • Social rehabilitation can be especially helpful for loved ones who have isolated themselves due to their symptoms.

Can home remedies help for Psychotic Disorders?

While home remedies continue to be a trending topic in all aspects of health, it’s important not to trade in proven medications and therapies for natural versions. At the same time, lifestyle measures will certainly help your overall mental health, including a healthy diet and regular exercise.

It’s important to discuss the use of any herbs or supplements with your doctor. This includes fish oil. While there’s some clinical evidence that shows the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may support brain health and subsequent mental illnesses, more research needs to be done to conclude whether taking fish oil — and how much — can effectively treat mental health disorders. Not all studies support the use of omega-3 fatty acids for psychosis and other mental health conditions.

When to se a Psychiatrist?

Given the complexity of Psychotic Disorders, it’s not advised to self-diagnose and treat them on your own. You can, however, make note of your symptoms to determine when it’s time to seek help from a psychiatrist or other mental health professional.

If you suspect symptoms of psychosis, and if these are severe enough to interfere with your daily life, consider seeking professional advice. Your primary care doctor is a starting point for recommendations. You can also search for mental health providers via your insurance company.

How to cope with Psychotic Disorders?

If you’re supporting a friend or family member struggling with psychosis, it’s important to learn coping mechanisms early on so that you can be at your best. Taking care of yourself is paramount, and you’ll also want to take time to manage stress every day.

You can also help by:

  • Learning everything you can about your loved one’s condition
  • Making sure your loved one takes all their medications and goes to therapy, as directed
  • Reducing triggering situations that can worsen your loved one’s symptoms
  • Listening to what your loved one is going through, without judgment
  • Avoiding harmful situations, such as drinking and illicit drug use

You might also find it helpful to connect with other families who may be going through similar situations.

Psychosis can occur in schizophrenia and other mental health disorders. While psychosis can leave you or your loved ones feeling uncertain, it is treatable — especially when detected early. Treatment will consist of a combination of medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes.

It’s also important for loved ones to be patient and supportive of family and friends struggling with mental health disorders. If you suspect that mental illness is interfering with reality, see a mental health professional for an evaluation.

Reclaim Your Life From Psychotic Disorders

Psychotic disorders are an umbrella term to describe multiple types of mental health conditions that involve a phenomenon called psychosis. We Level Up California can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to treat psychotic disorders with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.