How can one forget the awe-inspiring 2001 film “Beautiful Mind” based on the real life story of John Nash, who overcame paranoid schizophrenia and all hallucinatory phases to become Nobel Laureate in Economics? To see the genius bidding farewell to his demon friends and coping up with a severe case of psychotic disorder without drug intake was quite a watch. Although a layman associates a psychotic disorder to symptoms like delusions, paranoia and complete detachment from reality, this psychological disease is much more complex than just that. Depending on the severity of the ailment, bizarre behavior, incoherent or disorganized speech, depression or mania are few other characteristic features of a psychotic disorder. Although researchers are yet to zero down to a specific cause that leads to this ailment, stress, drug abuse and imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain like dopamine (neurotransmitters that aid nerve cells to send messages to each other) are few factors. It is believed that around one percent of the world’s population suffer from some or the other form of a psychotic disorder. Here is a list of psychotic disorders which would fairly give an insight to the complexities of the disease.
Types Of Psychotic Disorders
When a person expresses a bizarre idea or belief with unusual persistence, he/she is assumed to be suffering from a delusional disorder. Any attempt to contradict the said belief arouses a strong emotional reaction, coupled with irritability or hostility, from the person. For instance, while watching television, if a person feels that the characters in the tele-serial are conspiring against him and would soon come out and attack him, do not think of him as a humorist. However bizarre it might sound, this thought is humorless and an over-sensitive issue for the person. It is, in fact, a classic example of delusional disorder that the person is suffering from.
Brief Psychotic Disorder
When the duration of psychosis is shorter and non-recurring, it is believed that the person is suffering from brief psychotic disorder. Brief psychotic disorder is characterized by sudden onset of symptoms like hallucinations and delusions, disorganized speech or catatonic behavior. The symptoms do not last for more than a month and the person eventually returns to a full-fledged baseline functioning. Brief psychotic disorder is uncommon. Pre-existing personality disorders, such as paranoid personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, narcissism, schizotypal personality disorder or borderline personality disorder, predispose to its development.
Recurring episodes of elevated or depressed mood or simultaneous occurrence of it with distortions of perception is what schizoaffective disorder is all about. Late adolescence and early adulthood is said to be the peak time for this ailment. Schizoaffective disorder includes elements of thought, mood as well as anxiety disorder. Besides hallucinations and delusions, sleep and appetite loss, disrupted concentration and depression are few trademarks of the disease. Researchers have claimed that one out of every 100 individuals suffer from this ailment in some phase of his/her life.
Shared Psychotic Disorder
Also known as Folie a deux (French for “a madness shared by two), it is a rare disorder in which symptoms of a delusional belief are transmitted from one individual to another. A delusion generally develops in an individual when he is in a close relationship with a person, who has an already established delusion. For instance, a man suffering from schizophrenia has a delusion that his children are planning to kill him. Eventually he influences his wife so much so that even she starts believing the same. So, the content of the delusion remains the same, but it is being shared by two separate entities.
When a person loses his cognitive abilities without the normal process of ageing, it is termed as dementia. It is an impairment of one’s memory, intellect and personality, resulting in the deterioration of his/her emotional control, social behavior and motivation. People with dementia often have hallucinations. Complications in chronic high blood pressure or a previous stroke, Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease also lead to such an ailing state of mind and body.
When the symptoms of schizophrenia are present for a significant portion within a one-month time span, but does not stretch to a full six-month period required to diagnose schizophrenia, a person is likely to be suffering from schizophreniform disorder. While the symptoms of both schizophrenia and schizophreniform disorders include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, catatonic behavior, and social withdrawal, in the case of schizophreniform disorder an individual's level of functioning may or may not be affected. Schizophreniform disorder is generally believed to be a genetic or hereditary disorder and mainly occurs at the age of 25-35 years in both men and women alike.