Psychotic and Mood Disorders: How to Recognize and Treat Them
At times, there is the confusion between symptoms of psychotic and mood disorders. To attempt to make some clarity, psychotic disorders (e.g., schizophrenia) are a mental health condition associated with unusual expressions or perceptions of reality. It can lead to significant social or occupational dysfunction. Further, it can feature auditory hallucinations, or hearing things that are not there. Less commonly, the person may experience visual hallucinations, in which they see things that do not exist. There may be bizarre or paranoid delusions, and disorganized speech and thinking.
Now, during out life span we will experience changes in our emotions and moods; however, if your emotions and moods seem out of your control over a long period of time, you may have a mood disorder (e.g., bipolar) and not meet the clinical definition of schizophrenia. There are several different types of mood disorders, and all of them can be treated.
Types of Psychotic and Mood Disorders
• Schizophrenia – is a chronic, severe, debilitating mental illness characterized by disordered thoughts, abnormal behaviors, and anti-social behaviors
• Schizotypal Personality Disorder – is a personality disorder as well as a schizophrenia spectrum disorder that is characterized by a pattern of odd, eccentric feelings, behaviors, perceptions, and relating to others that markedly interferes with the person’s ability to function. They may also be paranoid, although their level of suspiciousness might not rise to the level of being completely out of touch with reality (delusional).
• Schizoaffective Disorder – involves persistent psychotic symptoms, like hallucinations or delusions, co-occurring with the major mood episode of depressive, manic, or mixed episodes.
• Bipolar Disorder – this causes extreme mood swings, from depression to emotional highs called mania. During the highs, you have more energy and your thoughts may come quickly
What causes psychosis and mood disorders?
As with most of mental disorders, there is no specific, well-understood cause for psychotic disorder. It is thought there is genetic influence, such as immediate family (first-degree relatives) history of any mental illness and can be caused by stressful or even traumatic life experiences. Many factors contribute to mood disorders. They are likely caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals. Life events (such as stressful life changes) may also contribute to a depressed mood. Mood disorders also tend to run in families.
What is the treatment for Psychotic and Mood Disorders
Given the potentially serious impact that either a psychotic or mood disorder has on the lives of clients, treatment needs to be symptom-based rather than distinctly different based on the illness itself. In terms of medication treatment, this depends on the severity of the symptoms and how the individual seems to respond best to treatment with an antipsychotic drug. At times combing an antipsychotic drug with a mood-stabilizer drug may be most effective.
Evidence-based treatments that have been found to be useful in helping the client manage some of the symptoms include both psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral forms of talk therapy (psychotherapy). Psychodynamic psychotherapy, which is also called psychoanalytic therapy, seeks to help the individual understand and better manage his or her ways of defending against negative emotions as Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on helping the person understand how their thoughts and behaviors affect each other. An emphasis on improving social skills is particularly important in addressing the long-standing social deficits that are part of any psychotic or mood disorder.
Lawanda Harmon, PhD, Psychometrist, Post-Doc Psychologist is the owner of Re-Mind Minds. There are openings for teens and adults that are working through psychotic and mood disorders, contact them at