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Finding the Best Exclusive Shared Psychotic Disorder Treatment Center

Shared psychotic disorder takes two people to happen, which is why it’s also called “folie a deux” or “the folly of two.” The first person – or the primary case – suffers from a mental health disorder, and the second person – or the secondary case, the one struggling with shared psychotic disorder – develops symptoms of the primary’s mental health disorder that are only present when in ongoing contact with that person. Otherwise healthy, the person diagnosed with shared psychotic disorder stops experiencing the mental health problems when they are no longer in contact with the person living with the primary disorder.

Case Study: Caroline’s Story

Caroline never experienced any signs of mental illness until she became close friends with Christine, her next door neighbor. Over the years, Christine, diagnosed with schizophrenia, spent hours at Caroline’s house every day and often talked about her delusion that she was being stalked by the government. She imagined that she saw black cars following her, that she heard FBI agents around corners in her home, that she was being recorded.

Retired and far from her family, Caroline soon began to believe that she, too, was being monitored by the authorities and imagined that she saw “men in black” following her. When Caroline sought treatment, it was unclear why or how her symptoms started. During treatment, she moved, thus losing contact with Christine who refused to answer the phone. As the weeks past without seeing Christine, Caroline began to experience fewer and fewer delusional thoughts and soon was symptom-free.

*Shared Psychotic Disorder Quick Facts

  • No one knows why shared psychotic disorder happens, but stress and isolation may be contributing factors.
  • Patients with shared psychotic disorder have delusions that mirror the mental health symptoms of someone close to them.
  • It’s difficult to diagnose shared psychotic disorder because the afflicted party rarely seeks treatment.
  • If untreated, shared psychotic disorder can become chronic.

Diagnosing Shared Psychotic Disorder Is Difficult

The treatment of shared psychotic disorder can be difficult because diagnosing the issue is difficult. The person with the primary disorder must be identified – as well as their symptoms – and it must be clear that the second person developed those same symptoms after spending a large amount of time with the first person. Diagnostic exams to rule out other issues may be necessary as well.

3 Mental Health Treatment Options for Shared Psychotic Disorder

Once identified, treatment for shared psychotic disorder is very specific. The goal is to stop the symptoms for the person experiencing shared psychotic disorder and provide stabilization treatment for the person living with the primary diagnosis. Separation is generally recommended, but in some cases, it is not possible. Some options for treatment include:

  • Medication. Because continued exposure to a loved one’s mental health symptoms can mean continued delusions, antipsychotic medication may be necessary to stop them. Sedatives or antidepressants may also be helpful to deal with issues like depression, anxiety or insomnia.
  • Personal therapy. One-on-one counseling can help to address underlying issues that may be part of the problem. It can help the patient through the separation or in learning how to separate as much as possible from the person with the primary disorder.
  • Family therapy. The more support that the patient has, the more likely he/she is to stop experiencing symptoms that mimic those of another person.