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The essential feature of Brief Psychotic Disorder is a disturbance that involves the sudden onset of at least one of the following positive psychotic symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech (e.g., frequent derailment or incoherence), or grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior (Criterion A). An episode of the disturbance lasts at least 1 day but less than 1 month, and the individual eventually has a full return to the premorbid level of functioning (Criterion B). The disturbance is not better accounted for by a Mood Disorder With Psychotic Features, by Schizoaffective Disorder, or by Schizophrenia and is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a hallucinogen) or a general medical condition (e.g., subdural hematoma) (Criterion C).
Brief Psychotic Disorder
The following specifiers for Brief Psychotic Disorder may be noted based on the presence or absence of precipitating stressors:
With Marked Stressor(s). This specifier may be noted if the psychotic symptoms develop shortly after and apparently in response to one or more events that, singly or together, would be markedly stressful to almost anyone in similar circumstances in that person's culture. This type of Brief Psychotic Disorder was called "brief reactive psychosis" in DSM-III-R. The precipitating event(s) may be any major stress, such as the loss of a loved one or the psychological trauma of combat. Determining whether a specific stressor was a precipitant or a consequence of the illness may sometimes be clinically difficult.
In such instances, the decision will depend on related factors such as the temporal relationship between the stressor and the onset of the symptoms, ancillary information from a spouse or friend about level of functioning prior to the stressor, and history of similar responses to stressful events in the past.
Without Marked Stressor(s). This specifier may be noted if the psychotic symptoms are not apparently in response to events that would be markedly stressful to almost anyone in similar circumstances in the person's culture.
Associated Features and Disorders
Individuals with Brief Psychotic Disorder typically experience emotional turmoil or overwhelming confusion. They may have rapid shifts from one intense affect to another. Although brief, the level of impairment may be severe, and supervision may be required to ensure that nutritional and hygienic needs are met and that the individual is protected from the consequences of poor judgment, cognitive impairment, or acting on the basis of delusions. There appears to be an increased risk of mortality (with a particularly high risk for suicide), especially among younger individuals. Preexisting Personality Disorders (e.g., Paranoid, Histrionic, Narcissistic, Schizotypal, or Borderline Personality Disorder) may predispose the individual to the development of the disorder.
A common and serious mental disorder characterized by loss of contact with reality (psychosis), hallucinations (false perceptions), delusions (false beliefs), abnormal thinking
Specific Culture Features
It is important to distinguish symptoms of Brief Psychotic Disorder from culturally sanctioned response patterns. For example, in some religious ceremonies, an individual may report hearing voices, but these do not generally persist and are not perceived as abnormal by most members of the person's community.
Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders
Cases of Brief Psychotic Disorder are rarely seen in clinical settings in the United States and other developed countries. The incidence and prevalence of cases that do not come to clinical attention are unknown. However, psychotic disturbances that meet the A and C criteria for Brief Psychotic Disorder but not the B criterion (i.e., the duration of active symptoms is 1-6 months as opposed to remitting within a month) are more common in developing countries than in developed countries.
Brief Psychotic Disorder may appear in adolescence or early adulthood, with the average age at onset being in the late 20s or early 30s. By definition, a diagnosis of Brief Psychotic Disorder requires a full remission of all symptoms and a return to the premorbid level of functioning within 1 month of the onset of the disturbance. In some individuals, the duration of psychotic symptoms may be quite brief (e.g., a few days).
A wide variety of general medical conditions can present with psychotic symptoms of short duration. Psychotic Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition or a delirium is diagnosed when there is evidence from the history, physical examination, or laboratory tests that indicates that the delusions or hallucinations are the direct physiological consequence of a specific general medical condition (e.g., Cushing's syndrome, brain tumor). Substance-Induced Psychotic Disorder, Substance-Induced Delirium, and Substance Intoxication are distinguished from Brief Psychotic Disorder by the fact that a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication, or exposure to a toxin) is judged to be etiologically related to the psychotic symptoms. Laboratory tests, such as a urine drug screen or a blood alcohol level, may be helpful in making this determination, as may a careful history of substance use with attention to temporal relationships between substance intake and onset of the symptoms and the nature of the substance being used.
The diagnosis of Brief Psychotic Disorder cannot be made if the psychotic symptoms are better accounted for by a mood episode (i.e., the psychotic symptoms occur exclusively during a full Major Depressive, Manic, or Mixed Episode). If the psychotic symptoms persist for 1 month or longer, the diagnosis is either Schizophreniform Disorder, Delusional Disorder, Mood Disorder With Psychotic Features, or Psychotic Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, depending on the other symptoms in the presentation. The differential diagnosis between Brief Psychotic Disorder and Schizophreniform Disorder is difficult when the psychotic symptoms have remitted before 1 month in response to successful treatment with medication. Because recurrent episodes of Brief Psychotic Disorder are rare, careful attention should be given to the possibility that a recurrent disorder (e.g., Bipolar Disorder, recurrent acute exacerbations of Schizophrenia) may be responsible for any recurring psychotic episodes.
An episode of Factitious Disorder, With Predominantly Psychological Signs and Symptoms, may have the appearance of Brief Psychotic Disorder, but in such cases there is evidence that the symptoms are intentionally produced. When Malingering involves apparently psychotic symptoms, there is usually evidence that the illness was feigned for an understandable goal.
In certain individuals with Personality Disorders, psychosocial stressors may precipitate brief periods of psychotic symptoms. These are usually transient and do not warrant a separate diagnosis. If psychotic symptoms persist for at least 1 day, an additional diagnosis of Brief Psychotic Disorder may be appropriate.
Diagnostic criteria for 298.8 Brief Psychotic Disorder
A. Presence of one (or more) of the following symptoms:
(3) disorganized speech (e.g., frequent derailment or incoherence)
(4) grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior
Note: Do not include a symptom if it is a culturally sanctioned response pattern.
B. Duration of an episode of the disturbance is at least 1 day but less than 1 month, with eventual full return to premorbid level of functioning.
C. The disturbance is not better accounted for by a Mood Disorder With Psychotic Features, Schizoaffective Disorder, or Schizophrenia and is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition.
With Marked Stressor(s) (brief reactive psychosis): if symptoms occur shortly after and apparently in response to events that, singly or together, would be markedly stressful to almost anyone in similar circumstances in the person's culture
Without Marked Stressor(s): if psychotic symptoms do not occur shortly after, or are not apparently in response to events that, singly or together, would be markedly stressful to almost anyone in similar circumstances in the person's culture
With Postpartum Onset: if onset within 4 weeks postpartum