Brief Psychotic Disorder Symptoms

By Psych Central Staff

(Also Known as Brief Reactive Psychosis)

Brief Psychotic Disorder — also known as brief reactive psychosis –  is a mental disorder that is typically diagnosed in a person’s late 20s or early 30s. Brief reactive psychosis can be thought of as time-limited schizophrenia  that is resolved within one month’s time.

It is characterized by the presence  of one or more  of the following symptoms:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech (e.g., frequent derailment or incoherence)
  • Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior

Duration of an episode of brief psychosis is at least one day but less than one month, with eventual full return to previous level of functioning.

The disturbance can occur as a response to extreme life stress or with postpartum onset. This disturbance cannot be due to the direct physiological effects of a substance or drug (such as a prescription medication, or an illicit  drug like cocaine), or a general medication condition.

  • Severity is rated by a quantitative assessment of the primary symptoms of psychosis, including delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, abnormal psychomotor behavior, and negative symptoms. Each of these symptoms may be rated for its current severity (most severe in the last 7 days) on a 5-point scale ranging from 0 (not present) to 4 (present and severe).

Differential Diagnoses

Differential diagnoses — diagnoses that may be considered instead  of brief psychotic disorder — include a Mood Disorder With Psychotic Features, Schizoaffective Disorder, or Schizophrenia.

After a month has passed, and if the person is still exhibiting  symptoms consistent with brief psychotic disorder, a diagnosis of schizophrenia is often considered.


This disorder has been updated according to DSM-5 criteria



APA Reference
Psych Central. (2014). Brief Psychotic Disorder Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 1, 2015, from

Symptom criteria summarized from:
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fifth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Apr 2014
    Published on All rights reserved.