Bradipsychia: What Is It And What Are Its Most Frequent Causes?

This symptom appears in mental pathologies that impair the ability to think fluently.

Thinking is a highly complex mental action. Reasoning requires a great deal of intermediate mental processes. In order to adapt to the environment, it is necessary that we can react and use these processes with enough speed to be efficient.

However, sometimes some people suffer from some type of injury or problem that makes it more difficult for them to achieve it, having a slowed thinking due to some circumstance. These people have bradypsychia.

What is bradypsychia?

Bradypsychia is understood as the symptom characterized by a general slowing down of thought processes. Bradypsychia is a variable damage depending on the degree to which it appears.

The slowing down occurs at all levels, both with regard to the generation of thought and the implementation of different types of actions and processes, as well as when it comes to understanding external information.

Some of the aspects that are slowed down are attention span, judgment and reasoning capacity, reaction speed. Sometimes it can affect other aspects such as language, especially when it is accompanied by praise.

Thinking is slowed down by different causes. Often he rambles without reaching a conclusion, repeating the thought in question until it ends. A certain rigidity and perseverance are also usually seen.

As it is a symptom that affects the way of thinking at a general level, the affectation occurs in all the vital areas of the person.

Etiology of this symptom

The causes of bradypsychia can be multiple and varied.

At the neurological level, it can be observed that in many cases there is damage to the basal ganglia or to the connection of the cortex with these or with other subcortical pathways. Sometimes a lower volume of blood is observed in the prefrontal area of ​​the brain, decreasing its functionality in what is known as hypofrontality.

The hippocampus may also be reduced. With regard to neurotransmitters, a deficit of norepinephrine and / or dopamine can cause a decrease in alertness that in turn can cause a slowdown in thinking. Lack of acetylcholine can also be a major factor.

Another possible cause stems from the person’s focus on certain types of thinking and mental schemes, which absorb him and hinder his attention and reaction capacity.

Disorders and situations in which it appears

Bradypsychia is a symptom that can appear in a large number of situations, both in different mental disorders and in non-pathological conditions (for example, associated with drug use). Next we will see the main causes.

1. Normative aging

After reaching a certain age, over the years most people notice a more or less noticeable decrease in most of their mental abilities. As we age, bones and muscles weaken, memory worsens, and learning becomes slightly more complex than at other vital moments. Generalized slowing is common, both physically and mentally.

2. Dementias

Bradypsychia is very common in neurodegenerative disorders such as dementias, due to neuronal degradation and death and the greater difficulty in transmitting nerve signals.

3. Schizophrenia

Slow thinking is a negative symptom of schizophrenia, which is usually linked to the alogy.

  • Maybe you’re interested: ” Praise: when language and thought stop flowing “

4. Major depression

The fact of focusing on negative thoughts, hopelessness and the feeling of lack of control suffered by depressed subjects makes it more difficult for them to concentrate on and react to stimulation in the long run, being another context in which bradypsychia appears .

5. Substance use

Many drugs have depressant effects on the nervous system, sometimes even having narcotic effects. Psycholeptic or depressant substances in many cases cause slowing of thinking as a direct effect of consumption (both short and long term) or as an effect of intoxication.


Bradypsychia is not a disorder by itself, but a symptom, appearing before certain injuries or disorders. The treatment to be used will depend on its cause.

In the case of major depression and schizophrenia, the symptoms may improve to a greater or lesser extent based on the psychological and / or pharmacological therapy that is applied. In the case of schizophrenia, the application of atypical antipsychotics can be very useful even with negative symptoms such as bradypsychia.

In other cases in which bradypsychia is caused directly by neurodegenerative disorders, such as dementia , treatment tends to be palliative and based on preserving the subject’s functionality. Some drugs can help delay symptoms, including bradypsychia.

Bibliographic references:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.

  • Rodés, J. (2007). Health book of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona and the BBVA Foundation. Barcelona.

  • Santos, JL (2012). Psychopathology. CEDE Preparation Manual PIR, 01. CEDE. Madrid.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *