Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of psychotic disorders is an important part of the effort to get help for yourself or your loved one. At Rio Vista Behavioral Health in El Paso, Texas, we’re proud to be a source of information and comprehensive care for adolescents and adults who have been struggling with psychotic disorders.
Learn about psychotic disorders
Psychotic disorders are a group of mental health disorders whose symptoms, generally speaking, involve impaired ability to correctly perceive and effectively interact with your environment. Examples of psychotic disorders include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, brief psychotic disorder, and delusional disorder.
Depending upon the type of psychotic disorder a person has developed, they will experience one or more of the following:
- Delusions: Believing things that have no basis in reality
- Hallucinations: Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
- Disorganized thoughts: Typically evidenced by rambling, unconnected, or incomprehensible speech patterns
- Disorganized or abnormal motor behavior: Including unpredictable agitation, problems with goal-directed behaviors, and catatonia
- Negative symptoms: Diminished emotional expression and decreased motivation
The signs, symptoms, and effects of psychotic disorders can make it extremely difficult for people to establish and maintain a productive independent lifestyle. However, with proper professional care, life can get much better for adolescents, adults, and senior adults who have been struggling with psychotic disorders. With the right type and level of help, people can experience relief from certain effects of psychotic disorders, learn to manage their symptoms, and achieve an increased quality of life.
Statistics about psychotic disorders
The following statistics about psychotic disorders are from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
- About 3% of the population will experience at least one episode of psychosis in their lifetime.
- Experts estimate that about 26% of people who are living in homeless shelters are struggling with a psychotic disorder or another serious mental health challenge.
- As many as 30% of adolescents with schizophrenia may attempt suicide at least once.
- In the United States, the life expectancy for men with schizophrenia is 14.6 years less than the national average.
- The life expectancy for women with schizoaffective disorder in the United States is 17.5 years less than the national average.
Causes and risk factors for psychotic disorders
No sole cause has been identified for psychotic disorders. However, certain risk factors have been identified for various psychotic disorders. Some of the risk factors for psychotic disorders include:
- Family history of psychotic disorders
- Personal history of certain mental health disorders
- Age (certain psychotic disorders are much more common among young adults)
- Season of birth
- Irregular brain chemistry
- Growing up in an urban environment
- Certain pregnancy and birth complications
- Childhood malnutrition
- Certain inherited personality traits
Symptoms of psychotic disorders
The signs and symptoms of psychotic disorders can vary according to the type of psychotic disorder a person has developed, the presence of co-occurring conditions, and a host of additional personal factors. However, in general, a person who experiences the following signs and symptoms may struggle with a psychotic disorder:
- Claiming to see, hear, or believe things that are not connected to reality
- Being unable to express clear and consistent thoughts
- Struggling to interpret and respond to social cues
- Speaking in a monotone or flat voice
- Failing to tend to personal hygiene and other elements of self-care
- Acting with uncharacteristic and unexplained anger, agitation, or hostility
- Pulling away from family and friends
- Ending participation in significant activities
- Being unable to complete goal-directed activities
- Exhibiting catatonic behavior
- Inhibited motor skills
- Flat, expressionless appearance
- Overwhelming confusion
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
- Poor attention span
- Lack of motivation
- Depersonalization (feeling detached from your body)
- Derealization (feeling detached from the world around you)
Effects of psychotic disorders
An untreated psychotic disorder can have a devastating impact on a person’s physical, mental, and socioeconomic well-being. Depending upon the nature and severity of a person’s symptoms, the potential negative effects of psychotic disorders can include the following:
- Family discord
- Inability to form and maintain healthy relationships
- Poor academic performance
- Problems finding and keeping a job
- Financial distress
- Physical injury due to symptomatic behaviors
- Legal problems, including arrest and incarceration, as a result of symptomatic behaviors
- Health problems related to diminished ability to follow medical advice
- Onset or worsening of other mental health symptoms
- Substance abuse and addiction
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Suicidal thoughts and actions
Please note that the outcomes listed above are potential negative effects of untreated psychotic disorders. When adolescents or adults receive effective professional care for psychotic disorders, their risk of experiencing continued harm decreases significantly. Getting the right type and level of help can make a significant difference in the life of a person who has been living with a psychotic disorder.
Common co-occurring disorders among people who have psychotic disorders
People who develop psychotic disorders may also have an increased risk for various co-occurring disorders, including the following:
- Substance use disorders (this is the clinical term for addiction)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Panic disorder
- Paranoid personality disorder