Many people are familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a mental health condition that can arise in response to trauma, but few realize that brief psychotic disorders can occur, too.
Though temporary, these episodes can cause significant distress and confusion and can even lead to uncharacteristically dangerous or catatonic behavior. It’s important to be aware of what psychosis looks like so you can recognize it if you experience it after some traumatic event.
Brief psychotic disorders last for less than a month followed by remission with a small risk of future relapse.
During a brief psychotic episode, psychiatric nurse practitioner Judy Vansiea, DNP, MA, MS, APRN, NPP, can provide unwavering mental health support with convenient telemental health care at Coping Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry Services, based in Uniondale, New York.
Many cases of brief psychosis are directly linked to a traumatic experience. Take a moment as we establish the connection between trauma and brief psychotic disorders and help you understand what brief psychotic disorders look like.
Recognizing brief psychotic disorders
Brief psychotic disorders look a lot like schizophrenia, a chronic psychotic disorder, but are episodic and temporary. Lasting anywhere from one day to one month, a brief psychotic episode includes one or more of these key psychotic symptoms:
Delusions are beliefs that aren’t based in reality. Experiencing delusions doesn’t mean you’re not intelligent, but you may hold firm in your delusions despite all evidence to the contrary.
Hallucinations are perceived sensory input. You might hear, see, feel or smell something that isn’t really there.
People experiencing brief psychotic disorders might find that their words come out jumbled when they express themselves verbally.
Catatonia, or catatonic behavior, can include a lack of communication, confusion, and restlessness. It might also involve unusual body positions or visible agitation.
The trauma connection
When brief psychotic disorders are connected to trauma, they’re called brief psychotic disorders with marked stressors. High stress and trauma are both risk factors for brief psychosis, though not everyone who experiences major stress in life will develop any form of psychosis.
There are almost countless traumatic events and experiences that could trigger psychosis in someone at risk. (You’re also at an increased risk if you have a personality disorder or mood disorder.) Some possible triggers include:
- War or combat
- A natural disaster
- The loss of a loved one
- A car accident
Brief psychosis can also develop without a distinctive stressor or trigger. Similarly, brief psychotic disorder with postpartum onset can affect women within four weeks of childbirth and cause major distress in families.
Dr. Vansiea and the team at Coping Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry Services have exceptional training in trauma-informed care and typically rely on multifaceted treatment for brief psychotic disorders following trauma.
They explore the possible underlying causes and can provide detailed one-on-one psychotherapy during and after your episode.
You might also benefit from taking medications to manage symptoms including antipsychotic medications or antidepressants as brief psychosis can increase your risk for depression. To schedule an appointment and review options for treatment, call Coping Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry Services or book online today.