What is reality? That’s the central question when treating people who suffer from psychotic spectrum disorders. If you have an altered sense of reality, or you do not sense a shared reality with other people, you may be diagnosed with a psychotic spectrum disorder. Though each of us has our own individual slant on reality, we’re able to find enough shared reality points with other people to establish what psychiatrists call “consensual reality”.

The best-known symptoms are “positive” symptoms such as having delusions, hallucinations, unusual behaviors or moods, and paranoid beliefs. After you receive mental health treatment for positive symptoms, you can begin treating the negative symptoms such as having a lack of motivation or direction in life. You may feel as if you are slogging through thick mud and withdraw from social situations. You don’t really know what you want to do. You feel lost and ashamed. How will you pick up the pieces of your life and adapt to your new reality?

Psychotic Spectrum Disorder Symptoms

Psychotic spectrum disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by psychosis, which refers to a loss of touch with reality. These psychotic disorders encompass a range of conditions with varying symptoms and severities.

Common psychotic spectrum disorders include:


Schizophrenia is typically the most commonly known psychotic disorder. It typically manifests in late adolescence or early adulthood and involves a combination of hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, and social withdrawal. Individuals with schizophrenia may also experience negative symptoms such as reduced motivation and emotional expression. Schizophrenia is often severe.

Treatment for schizophrenia is usually lifelong, involving a combination of medications, psychotherapy, and specialty care services.

Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder combines psychosis symptoms of schizophrenia with mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder. People with this condition experience both psychotic symptoms and significant mood disturbances, which can occur simultaneously or at different times.  Often, cycles of severe symptoms are followed by varying periods of improvement. Symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, high-energy manic periods, and depression.

Treatment for schizoaffective disorder often includes a combination of therapy and medication.

Brief Psychotic Disorder

Brief psychotic disorder is characterized by a sudden onset of psychotic symptoms that typically last for less than a month. It is often triggered by a major stressor or traumatic event. While future episodes are possible, once the stressor is removed, most individuals recover without further episodes.

Treatment for brief psychotic disorder typically involves antipsychotic medications and therapy.

Delusional Disorder

Delusional disorder involves persistent delusions that are not accompanied by other obvious psychotic symptoms. These delusions are often bizarre or implausible but are very real to the person suffering from delusional disorder. Those suffering from these delusions will hold onto their belief of reality regardless of evidence to the contrary, which can significantly impact an individual’s daily functioning. Despite their delusional beliefs, individuals with this disorder may appear normal in other aspects of life.

Treatment for delusional disorder includes psychotherapy and antipsychotic medications but can be incredibly difficult due to the patient’s strong beliefs that their delusions are real.

Substance-Induced Psychotic Disorder

Substance-induced psychotic disorder is a form of psychosis that is brought on by drug use or withdrawal from drugs and alcohol. Certain drugs, such as hallucinogens or amphetamines, can induce psychotic symptoms. The most common symptoms include visual hallucinations, memory loss, and disorientation. Drugs most commonly reported as being most likely to result in psychotic symptoms include cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, ecstasy, and MDMA. Once the substance is eliminated from the body, the symptoms usually subside.

Treatment for substance-induced psychotic disorder includes therapy and antipsychotic medications. While antipsychotics don’t cure psychosis, they can help reduce and control symptoms.

Psychotic Depression

Psychotic depression, also known as major depressive disorder (or MDD) with psychotic features, is a severe form of depression where an individual experiences hallucinations or delusions along with depressive symptoms. The psychotic symptoms are typically congruent with the depressive theme.

Treatment for psychotic depression often includes therapy and medications and may also require hospitalization.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Schizotypal personality disorder is not a true psychotic disorder but is included in the psychotic spectrum due to its overlapping symptoms. Individuals with this disorder display odd or eccentric behavior, unusual beliefs, and social deficits, and may experience transient psychosis-like experiences. They often have difficulty forming and maintaining personal relationships, and display a consistent pattern of intense discomfort with close relationships and social interactions. People with STPD tend to have distorted views of reality, superstitions, and unusual behaviors.

Treatment for schizotypal personality disorder is typically a combination of psychotherapy and antipsychotic medications.

Schizophreniform Disorder

Schizophreniform disorder is a mental health condition characterized by symptoms similar to those seen in schizophrenia. These include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, and impaired social functioning. However, the duration of symptoms is shorter than with schizophrenia, typically lasting between one and six months.

Treatment for schizophreniform disorder often involves a combination of medication, such as antipsychotics, and psychotherapy. Therapy can help individuals manage symptoms, improve social skills, and enhance their overall quality of life.

Paranoid Disorder

Paranoid disorder, also known as paranoid personality disorder, is a condition marked by a pervasive distrust and suspicion of others, often without a reasonable basis. Individuals with this disorder may have a constant belief that others are out to harm or deceive them.

Treatment for paranoid disorder typically involves psychotherapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), to address and challenge the patient’s distorted thinking patterns. Building trust, enhancing communication skills, and managing anxiety are important goals of therapy to help individuals lead more fulfilling and balanced lives.

Schizoid Disorder

Schizoid disorder is a personality disorder characterized by a lack of interest in social relationships, limited emotional expression, and a preference for solitary activities. Individuals with schizoid disorder often struggle with forming and maintaining close relationships.

Treatment for schizoid disorder usually involves therapy to explore underlying emotional issues, develop social skills, and improve interpersonal relationships. Although the desire for social interaction may not change dramatically, therapy can help individuals lead more satisfying lives by expanding their support network and enhancing overall well-being.

Psychotic Break

A psychotic break, also known as a psychotic episode or acute psychosis, refers to a period of intense mental disturbance characterized by a loss of contact with reality. During a psychotic break, individuals may experience hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, and changes in behavior.

Treatment for a psychotic break typically involves a combination of medication, such as antipsychotics, and psychotherapy. The goal is to stabilize the individual and address the underlying causes of the episode while providing support, education, and coping strategies to prevent future occurrences.


Catatonia is a state of unresponsiveness in which individuals may show reduced motor activity or extreme, purposeless agitation. It can occur as a symptom of various mental health conditions, including schizophrenia and mood disorders.

Treatment for catatonia often involves a comprehensive evaluation to identify and address the underlying cause and determine if immediate medical intervention is required to ensure safety and stabilize the individual. Medications such as benzodiazepines or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be used to alleviate symptoms. Ongoing therapy and support are essential to manage the underlying condition and prevent relapses.

Treatment For Psychotic Spectrum Disorders Near Milwaukee Wisconsin

It is important to note that early detection, intervention, accurate diagnosis, and individualized treatment plans are crucial for effectively addressing and treating psychotic spectrum disorders. Treatment approaches often involve a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and support services to address symptoms, improve daily functioning, and enhance the patient’s overall quality of life. If you or someone you know near Milwaukee is experiencing symptoms of a psychotic disorder, we can help. Contact us today to discuss treatment options.

Are You in Denial About Your Mental Health?

You may be in tremendous denial about needing treatment for a condition you don’t believe you have. This can be quite debilitating and extremely difficult for those around you. If you’ve been diagnosed on the psychotic spectrum, you see yourself and the world quite differently. Yet the need for treatment is still there because it’s the only way you can have your best life and progress through the world with a sense of consensual reality shared with others. Our experienced Milwaukee therapists are here to help.

Don’t live with the misery of psychotic spectrum disorder, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, or another mental health issue. Schedule an appointment with an experienced psychiatrist by calling 414-763-6910 or by Requesting an Appointment online.

We welcome patients from the Milwaukee area, including New Berlin, Waukesha, Wauwatosa, West Allis, and nearby communities.

What Our Patients Have to Say

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“I had my intake with Dr Yin yesterday and I felt so comfortable opening up to her. I never in my life felt validated by a psychiatrist. She made me feel validated. I rarely open up to people but with her it was easy.”                                                                                                         -Laura D.