Psychotic Disorders Warning Signs, Symptoms, & Side Effects

Psychotic disorders are a group of mental health conditions that impair a person’s ability to accurately perceive and interact with their environment.

People who have developed a psychotic disorder experience episodes of psychosis, which the National Alliance on Mental Illness describes as disruptions to a person’s thoughts and perceptions that make it difficult for them to determine what’s real.

Psychotic disorders can also cause disorganized thoughts and movement, along with diminished emotional expression.

Living with an untreated psychotic disorder can prevent a person from successfully functioning in their day-to-day life, causing an intense strain on their closest relationships and keeping them from living the life they deserve.

Signs of Psychotic Disorders

Although everyone’s situation is different, someone who displays certain behaviors might be showing the warning signs of one of these conditions. If you’re seeing some of these behaviors in someone you know, it may be time to talk to them about what they’re going through.

Examples of psychotic disorder warning signs include:

  • Trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
  • Suspiciousness or discomfort around others
  • Spends less time with friends and family
  • Lashes out at loved ones
  • Either intense emotions or numbness
  • Increasing paranoia
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Decreased work performance
  • Starts to see or hear things that aren’t there
  • Believes something despite other evidence

Psychotic Disorder Symptoms

When a person suffers from psychotic disorder symptoms, they begin to have episodes of psychosis that can be frightening for both the person experiencing them and their loved ones. They may also struggle with other psychotic disorder symptoms that go beyond the warning signs.

Examples of psychotic disorder symptoms include:

  • Regularly hears voices that aren’t real
  • Regularly sees people or objects that don’t exist
  • Believes things that are not connected with reality
  • Incoherent speech that sounds like “word salad”
  • Stays in rigid positions for long periods of time
  • Lack of verbal or physical responses
  • Echoes other people’s speech
  • Withdraws from those closest to them

Because psychotic disorders affect everyone differently, a person might not experience every psychotic disorder symptom. Regardless of the severity of a person’s experience, psychotic disorder symptoms can be highly disruptive. It is essential to get professional care at the first signs that you are struggling with a psychotic disorder.

Common Psychotic Disorder Causes & Risk Factors

Experts have not identified a single cause of psychotic disorders, but there are certain factors that can increase your risk for developing a psychotic disorder.

Common causes of and risk factors for psychotic disorders include:

  • Family history of psychotic disorders
  • Complications during pregnancy or birth
  • Season of birth
  • Personal history of other mental health conditions

Psychotic Disorder Statistics

  • The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 3 out of 100 people experience psychosis at some point in their lives.
  • It is common for a person to struggle with psychotic disorder symptoms for more than a year before receiving professional help.
  • Many people who are suffering from a psychotic disorder start experiencing psychosis in their late teens or early 20s.

Potential Psychotic Disorder Effects

Psychotic disorders can have a devastating impact on a person’s life. The specific impact that a psychotic disorder can have on a person depends on how old they were when the condition developed, their genetic background, and whether they sought help in the past.

Everyone’s experience with psychotic disorders varies, but some of the most common psychotic disorder effects include:

  • Strained relationships with loved ones
  • Problems keeping a job
  • Financial hardship
  • Struggles with the law
  • Homelessness
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Worsening of other mental health symptoms
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Death by suicide

What If My Psychotic Disorder Symptoms Return?

Experiencing psychosis can be distressing, but seeking professional help is a powerful step in regaining control of the symptoms that have kept you from enjoying your life.

Episodes of psychosis can make it challenging to maintain trusting relationships and to be successful at work or other aspects of your life. But by seeking professional care and building a toolkit of skills and coping mechanisms, you can learn to manage psychotic disorder symptoms.

The goal of working with professionals is to set the groundwork for long-term recovery. Getting professional help doesn’t mean that your psychotic disorder symptoms won’t return throughout your life, but it will prepare you to respond appropriately.

If you notice that you are engaging in the same behaviors as before, it’s important to reach out for help immediately.

Common Underlying or Co-Occurring Conditions

Many people who are suffering from a psychotic disorder are also struggling with another mental health or addiction concern. This can be even more devastating because multiple conditions are affecting their ability to function.

When you choose Tower Behavioral Health, you benefit from care that addresses the symptoms of any underlying or co-occurring conditions you are facing.

To learn more about the types of concerns that can co-occur with psychotic disorders, we recommend visiting

This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at Tower Behavioral Health.