Psychiatric disorders can be especially frightening and confusing when they involve a loss of touch with reality. In clinical terms, this is known as psychosis. There are several types of psychotic disorders, with schizophrenia being one of the most common. Some people, however, develop delusions that have nothing to do with schizophrenia. They are the primary symptom of a much less common psychotic condition doctors call delusional disorder. There are many challenges associated with delusional disorder, but it can be treated with the help of mental health treatment programs.
Promises Behavioral Health can help you with understanding and treating delusional disorder. Reach out to our team at 844.875.5609 today to learn more.
Understanding Delusional Disorder: Signs and Symptoms
The primary symptom of delusional disorder, as the name implies, is the presence of one or more delusions. A delusion is essentially an unshakable but false belief. Delusions fit into one of two categories: bizarre and non-bizarre.
A bizarre delusion involves an impossible situation or scenario, such as believing that an alien from another planet has taken over your spouse’s mind and body. A non-bizarre delusion, on the other hand, involves a scenario or situation that could potentially happen. Examples of non-bizarre delusions would be the belief that you have a serious medical condition or that a Hollywood celebrity is madly in love with you.
Delusional disorder involves non-bizarre delusions only. A key characteristic of a delusion is that the belief is held very firmly. In other words, no matter how much evidence exists to the contrary, the delusion continues. For example, if your delusion is the belief you were dying from cancer, no amount of irrefutable evidence (e.g. multiple exams and lab tests) to the contrary would change your mind. The delusional belief is also not shared by others. It’s not unusual for someone with delusional disorder to have hallucinations as well, although they aren’t prominent. The hallucinations are typically related to the delusion.
Most Common Types of Delusions
Delusions almost always have a particular theme. Some of the most common themes include:
- Somatic – The belief that you have a specific medical condition or physical defect
- Grandiose – The belief that you are superior, exceptional, or special in some way
- Persecutory or paranoid – The belief that someone is targeting, following, and spying on you
- Erotomanic – The belief that a person (often a celebrity) is in love with you
- Jealous – That belief that your partner or spouse is having an affair
Some people with delusional disorder have a mixed delusion, one that involves more than one theme. An example would be a woman who believes a famous politician is in love with her and that his jealous wife is conspiring to have her killed.
The Challenges of Delusional Disorder
Many individuals who develop delusional disorder have no prior psychiatric history. Unlike schizophrenia, which usually develops in late adolescence or early to mid-twenties, delusional disorder often strikes at a later age. Most people who develop the disorder are older, but a few do develop it earlier in life. For reasons not fully understood, delusional disorder appears to affect women slightly more often than men.
The primary challenge with delusional disorder is getting the person into treatment. Delusions, by their very nature, are firm beliefs despite evidence to the contrary. It’s very difficult to get the delusional individual to recognize or accept that they need help. It’s not uncommon for people with this disorder to believe that those trying to help are part of some conspiracy. This typically makes them resistant to treatment and often renders therapy ineffective.
Individuals with delusional disorder rarely have any insight into their condition. They believe any problems brought on by their illness are due to external factors. Some individuals live with the disorder for years without anyone realizing they are seriously ill. They skillfully adapt their lives in such a way that no one notices the clues. Others exhibit behaviors that draw attention and concern, including:
- Avoiding social situations and being reclusive
- Becoming obsessed with the delusional belief
- Being overly suspicious of others
- Refusing to accept help
- Becoming very argumentative or confrontational
- Making irrational decisions
Understanding delusional disorder is the first step to getting the help you or your loved one needs.
Treatment for Delusional Disorders at Promises Behavioral Health
At Promises Behavioral Health, we believe that everyone deserves to live a full and healthy life. That’s why we offer comprehensive treatment programs designed to help people with mental health challenges find stability and improved functioning. Our team of professionals understand the challenges associated with delusional disorder, and our treatment plans are tailored to the individual’s needs.
Reach out to our team at 844.875.5609 today to learn more.