Psychotic Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition

Definition

A diagnosis of Psychotic Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition is given when psychotic symptoms that indicate a loss of touch with reality are caused by a medical issue, such as a stroke or migraine headache, that occurs at the same time as the psychosis. The medical condition may trigger psychosis in people who are genetically disposed or otherwise at high risk of developing a psychotic disorder in the future, increase a person's vulnerability to psychosis, or worsen the symptoms of a preexisting psychotic condition. This diagnosis is not given when symptoms are a result of drug use, drug withdrawal, a psychological disorder other than psychosis, or if they occur only during the course of delirium caused by a medical condition.

Symptoms

The key symptoms of a Psychotic Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition are similar to those of schizophrenic or any other psychotic episode, and include delusions (the idea that one is being talked about or spied on, or that normally familiar people are not who they say they are), hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that don't exist), disorganized speech and thought patterns, and/or abnormal physical behavior, such as pacing back and forth or walking in circles. Catatonia and other abnormal motor behaviors can also be symptoms of Psychotic Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition, as can antisocial, aggressive, and general unusual behavior that negatively affects occupational, academic, and social circumstances.

Psychotic symptoms most often surface within a year of diagnosis but may not appear for several years after. The severity of symptoms varies from person to person, and even within the same person from time to time during different stages of illness. Symptoms may be temporary and brief or long-term in nature and persist long after the associated medical condition has been resolved. In some cases, symptoms will occur.

Causes

The cause of Psychotic Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition is thought to be a change in brain function that sometimes occurs with brain tumors, traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, Huntington’s disease, central nervous system infections, cerebrovascular disease, auditory or visual nerve damage, multiple sclerosis, stroke, migraine, and other medical issues. For example, studies have found that approximately 7 percent of people with epilepsy have experienced psychotic episodes. This type of psychosis may occur as a single incident or may come and go, depending on the course of the medical condition. 

Medical researchers speculate that some patients with Psychotic Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition have underlying inflammatory or autoimmune disorders that play a role in both the medical condition and the related psychosis. These disorders may also work in tandem with a genetic predisposition to both the medical condition and the associated psychosis.

Treatments

Treatment of Psychotic Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition is very individual and based on the nature of the medical condition and the psychotic symptoms. Most often, treating the primary medical condition results in a remission of psychotic symptoms, but sometimes psychosis continues long after the medical issue has been resolved and further treatment is required if residual symptoms affect daily activities and social relationships. Antipsychotic medications are prescribed to help control delusions and hallucinations and prevent reoccurrence of symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapists, family therapists, and other mental health professionals can help those with the disorder and their families to better understand the condition and learn coping strategies and problem-solving skills.

References

Merck Manual. Psychotic Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition. Last reviewed July 2016. Accessed June 1, 2017.

Nemade R and Dombeck M. Gulf Bend Center. Schizophrenia/Symptoms of Psychotic Disorder Due to Another Condition. Accessed June 1, 2017.

Fujii DE and Ahmed I. Psychotic disorder caused by traumatic brain injury. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2014;37(1):113-124.

Clancy MJ, Clarke MC, Connor DJ, Cannon M, Cotter DR. The prevalence of psychosis in epilepsy; a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry. March 13, 2014;14:75.

Bergink V, Gibney SM, Drexhage HA. Autoimmunity, inflammation and psychosis: A search for peripheral markers. Biological Psychiatry. February 15, 2014;75(4):324-331.

Last reviewed 10/04/2017