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Shared Psychotic Disorder

Shared psychotic disorder is a very rare condition in which people close to a mentally ill person share his or her false beliefs (delusions). As an example, a man with schizophrenia may falsely believe that his children are trying to murder him. His wife develops shared psychotic disorder and comes to believe it as well. This disorder usually occurs in long-term relationships and involves two people. However, it can also develop among members of a group, such as within families. It affects women more often than men.
  
Aside from the delusions, the thoughts and behavior of people with shared psychotic disorder are usually fairly normal.
    
Someone who is closely associated with a delusional person also develops a delusion.
     
The content of this new delusion is similar to that of the first person's delusion.
    
The disorder is not explained better by another psychotic disorder, such as Schizophrenia or Mood Disorder with Psychotic Features.
     
This disorder is not directly caused by a general medical condition or the use of substances, including prescription medications.

Associated Features:

Differential Diagnosis:

Some disorders have similar or even the same symptom. The clinician, therefore, in his diagnostic attempt has to differentiate against the following disorders which he needs to rule out to establish a precise diagnosis.

Cause:

The cause of shared psychotic disorder is unknown. Stress is believed to play a role and a person who experiences extreme isolation can also contribute to the development of this disorder.

Treatment:
Treatment will include medication and treating the mentally ill person to whom you are close. It may also include couples or family psychotherapy.
Counseling and Psychotherapy [ See Therapy Section ]:

Cognitive, Behavior, and Psychoanalytic therapies are used to treat individuals with a shared psychotic disorder.
    
Pharmacotherapy [ See Psychopharmacology Section ]:
related books
  Adults with a Psychotic Disorder Living in Private Households
UK Support Groups
 

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Tel:020 8974 6814
Email: advice@rethink.org
Web: http://www.rethink.org/
  

PsychNet-UK Links
  Schizophrenia - Other Psychotic Disorders
Page Updated
22nd July 2003