A-Z Teen Health Glossary

Teen Brief Psychotic Disorder Treatment

Teen brief psychotic disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by a very brief period of psychotic symptoms. A brief psychotic disorder only lasts a month, but some research suggests that it may be the precursor for other psychological problems in the future – which is why treatment may be necessary, even if the symptoms vanish quickly.

What Does Teen Brief Psychotic Disorder Look Like?

  • Delusions and irrational thinking, clouding a teen’s judgment and making them react to situations and scenarios that aren’t happening.
  • Loss of memory and slurred speech, and distracted thinking, as though something was going on around them.
  • Struggle with proper sleep, causing irritability while making communication difficult.

Signs of Teen Brief Psychotic Disorder

Memory loss

Poor decision making

Delusions & paranoia

Unintelligible speech

Unusual movements

Changed sleeping habits

Different Types of Teen Brief Psychotic Disorder Treatment

With Marked/Obvious Stressors – this type occurs due to trauma or extreme stress. This stress directly triggers the psychosis.

Without Marked/Obvious Stressors – this type involves symptoms of temporary and brief psychosis with no apparent reason related to stress or trauma

With Postpartum Onset – this type is tied to pregnancies, and typically occurs within the first 4 weeks after giving birth.

Teen Brief Psychotic Disorder Treatment | Paradigm Malibu

What Are The Causes of Teen Brief Psychotic Disorder?

There is no concrete cause for psychosis. While we do recognize risk factors and can assume by association that the cause is largely genetic – because the biggest risk factor is having a family history of schizophrenic/psychotic symptoms – we do not know nor understand the underlying mechanism by which psychosis develops in the brain.

Genetic – the likeliest link for a psychosis is a person’s family history, yet even so, it’s a faint link and very few relatives to a person with psychotic symptoms would develop a similar condition.

Mood disorders – mood disorders like depression and manic depression in the family or in a person’s own medical history also point towards the possibility of developing a brief psychotic disorder. One sign that may point towards future problems with psychosis is trouble with coping, and trouble coming up with ways to relieve oneself from stress.

Stress – most cases of brief psychotic disorder are caused by traumatic events, from assault to the loss of a loved one, or in some cases, childbirth.


of people reporting first-time psychosis are experiencing brief psychosis disorder


as many women struggle with brief psychosis disorder than men


days is the average duration of a brief psychotic episode

How Can I Help My Teen with Brief Psychotic Disorder?

Don’t panic – do not let panic overwhelm you, and do not let the situation wash over you and take you in. It’s difficult to react calmly when your teen is going through a mental crisis, but you have to stay calm and strong for them.

Work with your teen – a parent’s first reaction to speaking to their teen while they’re in psychosis might be to try and help by offering meds or trying to rationalize them out of their situation. However, acting in this way will only solidify and increase your teen’s paranoia and drive a wedge between the two of you. Telling your teen their perception of reality is false is not the right thing to do. Instead, comfort your teen and speak slowly and softly to them. Convince them not to do anything drastic or potentially dangerous, and slowly calm them down. If the situation isn’t tense, it’s fine to slowly and calmly ask if they’ve taken their meds, or to describe to you what’s going on.

Get in contact with a mental health professional – a psychosis can be a serious problem, because there is no way of knowing how the delusions and hallucinations might progress. They could be entirely harmless, but become harmful, making your teen engage in destructive behavior because of a false premise spun by their mind. To ensure your teen’s safety and the safety of your family, contact a professional and speak to your teen about getting help once they’ve calmed down.

What Types of Teen Brief Psychotic Disorder Treatment Are Available?

A brief psychotic disorder is usually a single episode of mild psychotic behavior, in the sense that a teen would experience distortions of reality, possible hallucinations (perceiving things that aren’t there) and delusions (believing things to be what they aren’t).

Therapists work primarily to help patients stay safe and better learn to differentiate between what is real and what isn’t real. Medication can help in that distinction and can help block out intense fears or emotions and beliefs that are built on false perceptions, but the majority of work in treating a psychosis lies in working together with a patient to help them sort out their own reality.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

A form of talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT deals with helping patients better sort out and understand the relationship between their emotions and thoughts, and their behavior. By learning to manage their thoughts and control their behavior, teens can also affect their emotions, and be in better control of their condition. It takes time, but under the guidance of an experienced and trained therapist, it’s possible to hold the symptoms of certain mood disorders and psychotic disorders at bay.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy or DBT was originally designed to help patients deal with the symptoms of a borderline personality disorder, but it has since shown efficacy in the treatment of depression, mania, anxiety, and psychosis. Skills developed through DBT include mindfulness, distress tolerance, and more.


Medication can be helpful in alleviating the severity and discomfort of the symptoms in recurring episodes, although these are quite rare. In some cases, brief psychotic disorders can turn into other chronic mental health issues, like schizophrenia. Some of the most commonly prescribed medications for symptoms of psychosis are antipsychotic drugs, atypical antipsychotic drugs, antidepressants, and anxiety medication.

Teen Brief Psychotic Disorder Treatment at Paradigm Malibu

A brief psychotic disorder is, as per the name, brief – but you’ll still want to consider getting professional help. As the symptoms can be quite unpredictable at times, it helps to have a better overview of a patient’s health and safety in a clinical setting.

Besides safety, Paradigm Malibu offers a setting that prioritizes comfort and therapeutic efficacy. That means keeping teens comfortable and in the right mindset for improvement. By choosing locations surrounded in various ways by nature, Paradigm Malibu blends a classroom environment for social and learning purposes with one-on-one sessions and group activities out in nature, while giving teens time to tend to their own interests.

A Place for Safety

Paradigm Malibu offers a residential program for a small group of teens at a time. Through this program, teens are given individualized treatment corresponding to their needs, as per their personalities and diagnoses. One-on-one treatment, as well as alternative therapies like mindfulness training, meditation, and animal-assisted therapy, are just a few of the many ways in which teens may be treated for their disorders.

However, Paradigm Malibu also places an emphasis on providing a physically and mentally safe environment. All treatment is voluntary and involves working with teens every step of the way, rather than making them go through a treatment process they openly resist. A teen has to want to get help for help to work, especially in therapy.

I don't know who will see this, but I just thought I'd put it out into the world that Paradigm Malibu changed my life forever. Long story short, I had nothing but anger inside me when I got there, and putting the rest of the world to the side for a while and being present with people I grew to love helped me gain my sense of self back. I'm forever grateful for the people of Paradigm.

– Olivia H.

Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Brief Psychotic Disorder

If it’s only going to last a month, why do I need treatment for teen brief psychotic disorder treatment?

Two reasons: one, things could get worse. It could occur again or evolve into a full-blown chronic mental health issue. The other reason is that you can still seriously hurt yourself or others during a brief psychotic disorder. While it may only last up to a month, psychosis means seeing and hearing things that aren’t there, and acting upon these false perceptions. Treatment is strongly recommended in order to minimize any potential harm.

What’s the prognosis for teen brief psychotic disorder?

It’s quite good compared to other psychotic disorders. While psychosis can be scary if left uncontrolled and untreated, it’s rare for another episode to occur after the first one, especially in girls. Boys have a somewhat higher risk of developing a mental health problem after a brief psychotic disorder. The risk is further increased across all genders if there is a history of mental health issues in a teen before they develop a brief psychotic disorder. Even so, if caught early, any symptoms can be managed through proper diagnosis, therapy, and if needed, medication.

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