Teen Psychotic Disorder, What Is It?
Teen Psychotic Disorder is a condition in which the brain sends confusing signals and messages that causes a person difficulty in discerning what is reality and what is imagined. These signals can include hallucinations and delusions by distortion of any of the five senses, the most common two being, vision and hearing. Young adults (late high school and early college years) are the age group most likely to experience their first episode of psychosis, meaning a break with reality.
What It Looks Like
The distorted brain messages that a teen with Psychotic Disorder experiences cause them to have hallucinations and delusions. These might involve or be related to any of the following senses:
Teens see things that don’t actually exist
Teens hear voices, often making demands, that aren’t actually being spoken by other people
Teens smell things that no one else can smell
Teens feel irritating sensations, such as itchy skin
Teens taste strange things in their food, possibly related to them suspecting they’ve been poisoned
Because teens with Psychotic Disorder experience things which they cannot discern are real or fantasy, there are a number of other related symptoms they may exhibit, including but not limited to:
- Confusing manner of speaking
- Often being confused
- Abnormally slow or otherwise strange way of moving
- Poor personal hygiene
- Apathy or sense of detachment from emotions
- Distorted thoughts
- Common withdrawal from close relationships
Different types of Psychotic Disorders
Brief Psychotic Disorder
Characterized by quick onset of symptoms, brought on by an unknown source
Characterized by the presence of one single consistent delusion, lasting for longer than a month, which doesn’t prohibit daily life functioning
Shared Psychotic Disorder
Characterized by two people (usually in a close relationship) sharing one delusion. This usually occurs between two people with more and less dominating personalities. The more dominant person will have more symptoms of the overall illness, whereas the less dominant person will often only have the delusion.
Characterized by such severe hallucinations, delusions, and related behaviors, that they prohibit normal functioning and activities. Teens with this illness are often very suspicious of treatment and are reluctant to seek treatment.
Characterized by a person having a break with reality, as well as persistent mood disturbances
Residential Teen Treatment
Treatment for teens with a Psychotic Disorder varies, according to the nature of the disorder as well as the severity. In most cases, antipsychotic medication will be prescribed to help treat the delusional symptoms which the teen is experiencing. And in all cases, talk therapy will take place in combination with the medication.
Some of the most common medications prescribed for psychotic disorders include:
Talk therapy for the teens in treatment will incorporate a number of different approaches, including group sessions and family sessions. Some of the most important aspects of this therapy is recognizing and addressing any potentially dangerous hallucinations or delusions, in order to protect the teen, and possibly others, from any harm. Then, therapists work with teens to discuss what the teens are experiencing, provide a safe environment with which to evaluate the falsity of these experiences, and then implement behaviors and techniques toward the teen’s holistic treatment plan.
What causes a Teen Psychotic Disorder?
While there is not one known cause for Psychotic Disorders, there are several factors known to contribute: they tend to be hereditary, more likely in people who have experienced severe stress over a lasting amount of time, and be linked to an imbalance of brain chemicals.
What if I’ve only had one hallucination or delusion, so I’m not ready to be diagnosed or get treatment?
Experiencing a hallucination or delusion can be very scary, and we understand it can also be scary to face that you may have a mental illness. However, even if you may not feel ready to be told what’s going on, or to get treatment, you’re probably also not “ready” for more similar experiences, and the symptoms of psychotic illnesses tend to increase with time. So we recommend talking to a therapist early on, and just take it one step at a time. If you do have a Psychotic Disorder and you get treatment as early as possible, you’re going to be glad and it’s going to be much easier on you.