Brief reactive is an unusual and relatively rare acute mental disorder precipitated by an event causing intense and overwhelming psychological stress. For diagnostic purposes, the event would be considered extremely stressful to virtually anyone of the same culture.
Episodes that are classified as brief reactive psychosis may last at least one day but less than one month. Typical triggering events may be the (particularly if unexpected) death of a spouse or other loved one, combat trauma, financial devastation, or any other major event involving psychosocial stress. Brief reactive psychosis has a sudden onset, typically over a period of less than two weeks with an eventual return to full premorbid functioning, and is characterized by at least one of the following positive psychotic symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized or incoherent speech, and grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior. Although episodes occur in a short period of time, the degree of cognitive and behavioral impairment during these episodes may be very severe, and often individuals with this condition must be prevented from causing harm to themselves or others.
See also Delusions/delusional disorders; Hallucinations ; Psychosis ; Schizophrenia .
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