An Overview of Psychotic Disorders and Treatment

Antipsychotics have been effective in the treatment of psychotic disorders, but clinicians must be cognizant of side effects.

Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia are recognized as a group of illnesses that have the ability to affect a person’s mind, which can lead to changes in one’s capacity to think clearly, make rational judgments or decisions, respond emotionally, communicate effectively, understand reality from imagination, and behave appropriately in public.1

About 1% of the world’s population suffers from a psychotic disorder, which affects men and women equally.2 The symptoms of psychotic disorders can sometimes be so severe to the point that they significantly impair a person’s ability to engage in normal functioning because it disturbs their ability to stay in touch with reality. As a consequence, they cannot meet the demands or obligations of everyday life. However, for the most part, even the most severe psychotic disorders can be treated. 

There are many types of psychotic disorders, such as delusional disorder, schizoaffective disorder (symptoms of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder), and substance-induced psychotic disorder. But one of the most debilitating and costly of all adult psychiatric disorders is schizophrenia. The condition is considered to be a psychotic thought disorder that is characterized by a mixture of symptoms that involve perception, cognition, emotions, behavior, attention, concentration, motivation, and judgment.3

Schizophrenia still continues to be an illness that defies a conclusive explanation from the scientific and research communities, but major strides have been made with regards to pharmacological agents that are available to treat the major negative and positive symptoms. The negative or deficit symptoms of schizophrenia can include blunted affect (lack of emotional reactivity), social withdrawal, poverty of speech, or psychomotor retardation.4

The cognitive symptoms of the symptoms of schizophrenia affect attention, memory and executive function. The positive symptoms consist of delusions, hallucinations, agitation, or disorganized speech.