Psychotic Disorders

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

What are complications and the prognosis of psychotic disorders?

The fact that men seem to develop these illnesses at younger ages may contribute to men having more episodes of the illness that are more severe compared to women. People with a psychotic disorder typically have fewer interactions with peers, tend to prematurely leave school, have low self-esteem, and are at higher risk for experiencing unemployment, repeated psychiatric hospitalizations, and substance abuse compared to people without a psychotic disorder. Psychotic disorder sufferers also often have trouble accessing and receiving medical care and therefore are at risk of medical illness and early death from conditions like diabetes and heart disease. While research reports vary on whether people with a psychotic disorder are at greater or less risk for developing different cancers, this population's vulnerability to having a poorer outcome from any medical illness highlights the importance of vigorous screening for cancers and other major medical conditions. The importance of assertively addressing the direct and associated symptoms of psychotic disorders is further indicated by the higher risk of suicide or engaging in self-harm that sufferers experience.

While more than two-thirds of people who have a psychotic disorder may suffer a return of those symptoms at some time, the combination of medications, psychosocial treatment, and education of the psychotic disorder sufferer and their loved ones tends to greatly improve how well the person is able to function. The shorter the amount of time from when the person begins having psychotic symptoms to when comprehensive treatment begins, the better the prognosis.

Is it possible to prevent psychotic disorders?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for the person who is at high risk for developing psychosis but has yet to have such symptoms has been found to be more effective than medication at preventing such symptoms. In individuals who have developed psychotic symptoms, providing his or her family with support and education about their loved one's condition have been found to be quite helpful in the prevention of the recurrence of psychotic symptoms in the individual with the illness. For women who have developed postpartum psychosis in the past, preterm delivery of subsequent pregnancy has been found to help prevent further episodes of the disorder.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/14/2017

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