Psychotic disorders are serious psychopathologies in which the person loses contact with reality. The most characteristic symptoms are hallucinations and delusions .

Delusions are defined as false beliefs. That is, mistaken beliefs of reality about an existing fact or object. They are a distortion of an external stimulus. For example, a patient with delusions may think that someone is following him because there is a conspiracy against him.

Hallucinations, on the other hand, are false perceptions, such as hearing, seeing or feeling something that does not really exist . These perceptions are invented by the mind and are not the result of the distortion of any present object, since something is perceived without taking into account external stimuli. For example, a patient with schizophrenia may believe that they are being talked to through the shower drain.

Delusions are characteristic of delusional disorder, while hallucinations predominate in schizophrenic disorder. Both of these psychopathologies are the best known psychotic disorders, but there are also others that are less popular.

Types of Psychotic Disorders

According to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) the following psychotic disorders exist:


Schizophrenia is a disorder in which the person suffering from it has hallucinations and disturbing thoughts that isolate him/her from social activity . Schizophrenia is a very serious pathology and its treatment requires the use of drugs so that the patient does not suffer outbreaks. Although there is no cure, there are effective treatments so that patients with this disorder can enjoy their lives.

The symptoms of schizophrenia are divided into positive and negative. The first are manifestations that the patient makes or experiences, and that healthy people usually do not present. The negative symptoms are those things that the patient stops doing and that healthy people can do on a daily basis, such as thinking in a fluid and logical way.

Positive Symptoms

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Disorganized Behaviors or Catatonia

Negative Symptoms

  • Lack of interest or initiative
  • Apathy
  • Social withdrawal or depression
  • Lack of emotional response

Types of Schizophrenia

There are different types of schizophrenia:

  • Paranoid schizophrenia : It is the most common. Predominance of delusional ideas.
  • Hebephrenic schizophrenia : Predominance of emotional disturbances. For example, the patient laughs for no reason at all.
  • Catatonic schizophrenia : Characterized by motor disorders. With persistent immobility, although it may alternate with agitation crises.
  • Undifferentiated schizophrenia : When a schizophrenia does not meet the criteria of the previous types or has several symptoms at once of the types mentioned above.

Delusional Disorder

Delusional disorder, also known as paranoia , is characterized by the fact that the patient has one or more delusional ideas and is convinced that they are true . For example, when walking through a shopping mall, he believes that some people (he doesn’t even know) are watching him to send information to someone who is trying to kill him. There are several types of delusional disorders depending on the nature of the delusion (e.g., persecutory delusional disorder).

With regard to treatment, patients are often resistant and often tend to hide their delirium, which is known as “encapsulated delirium”. Treatment includes psychotherapy and the use of antipsychotics.

Brief Psychotic Disorder

As its name suggests, it is a psychopathology in which a psychotic break with the same symptoms as a schizophrenic disorder can occur, but which lasts a few days and never affects the patient again. It therefore disappears without leaving any after-effects. It is usually a response to a traumatic event such as the death of a family member or to a time of extreme stress.

Schizophreniform Disorder

Schizophreniform disorder is similar to brief psychotic disorder, but lasts from 1 month to 6 months. Patients show different symptoms of schizophrenia : delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, catatonia, and/or negative symptoms.

Schizoaffective Disorder

In this type of psychotic disorder called schizoaffective disorder, the patient experiences symptoms of schizophrenia along with symptoms of a mood disorder , either at the same time or alternately.

Shared Psychotic Disorder or “folie à deux”

Shared psychotic disorder is a strange and unusual condition, since two people share the same delusions and hallucinations . The exact cause of this psychotic disorder is not known. However, it is possible that stress and social isolation play an important role in its development.

Substance-Induced Psychotic Disorder

This type of psychotic disorder is characterized by intoxication due to the use of drugs or medication . The symptoms usually appear quickly and last only a short time, from a few hours to several days, but then the effects of the drugs disappear.

The most common symptoms are visual hallucinations, disorientation, and memory problems. Some substances that cause this disorder include: marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, hallucinogenic inhalants, MDMA, opiates, sedatives, hypnotics, and anti-anxiety drugs.

Psychotic disorder due to medical illness

Psychotic disorder due to medical illness occurs when symptoms of the disorder result from diseases that affect the function of the brain (for example, a brain tumor).