Delusion Treatment at Promises
Delusions can be challenging to deal with and may require residential mental health treatment. When an individual starts to believe in things that aren’t really there or aren’t happening and no amount of evidence will change their mind, they may be suffering from delusions. It can include anything from believing that someone is after them to thinking their family is against them or believing certain activities or attacks are happening around them. This can be confusing to the person experiencing the delusion and devastating to a spouse/partner and family members. Delusions can be extremely disruptive to the individual’s life and to the people in that person’s life.
If delusions are a new occurrence, the situation should be addressed without delay. It’s crucial to assess the severity of the delusions and diagnose the cause. If the delusions have been present for some time, residential mental health treatment may be the best approach to healing. Antipsychotic medications may be helpful in reducing or eliminating symptoms. One-on-one therapy, group therapy and educating the family on how best to respond to the client’s mental health issues are part of treatment.
What Are Delusions?
Delusions are false beliefs that a person holds despite evidence to the contrary. Although delusions can occur as part of many different psychotic disorders, when delusions are the primary symptom a diagnosis of delusional disorder is usually made.
People tend to affiliate delusions with schizophrenia, especially when it involves hearing voices and seeing people and things that are not visible to others. But this is not always the case. While it is true that delusions may be present in psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, brief psychotic disorder and substance-induced psychotic disorder, they occur due to other conditions as well. They may also be present in individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder with psychotic features, delirium and dementia.
The delusions in delusional disorder may involve circumstances that could occur, but are unlikely. However, the individual with the delusions is absolutely convinced that the delusions are real. Identifying the root cause of delusions and treating them is crucial.
Types of Delusions
Delusions are categorized as bizarre or non-bizarre and either mood-congruent or mood-incongruent. An example of a bizarre delusion is that aliens have taken control of the neighborhood, whereas a non-bizarre delusion might be that the police have one’s home under constant surveillance.
A mood-congruent delusion has content consistent with either a manic or depressive state, while a mood-incongruent delusion is mood-neutral or has content not consistent with a manic or depressive state.
Delusions are also characterized by themes, including:
- Delusions of control: a false belief that another person, people or external force controls one’s thoughts, feelings, impulses or behavior
- Delusional jealousy or delusion of infidelity: a false belief that a spouse or partner is having an affair
- Delusions of guilt: a false feeling of remorse or sin
- Delusion of the mind being read
- Nihilistic delusion: false belief in nonexistence of self, parts, or the world, or that the world is ending
- Erotomania: delusions that another person is in love with the person struggling with delusions
- Grandiose delusion: the person exaggerates their self-importance or is convinced they possess special powers, talents or abilities
- Delusions of persecution: false belief of being followed, harassed, cheated, drugged, poisoned, conspired against or attacked
- Religious delusion: any delusion with spiritual or religious content
- Delusions of reference: a false belief that others’ remarks, objects or events have personal meaning or significance
- Somatic delusion or delusions pertaining to bodily function
People with delusions do not generally have hallucinations or a major mood problem. They do not appear odd to other people or display odd emotions, as do those with schizophrenia. Individuals with delusions know their beliefs are unique and generally don’t talk about them. If functioning is impaired, it is usually a direct result of the delusion.
Causes of Delusions
The causes of delusions are unknown, but researchers are investigating a few key areas:
Genetic – Since delusional disorder is more common in families where schizophrenia or delusional disorder is already present, there may be genetic factors involved. Experts believe that, as with other mental health disorders, there is a tendency for it to be passed on from parent to child.
Biological – Certain brain abnormalities might be involved in the development of delusional disorders. In addition, chemical imbalances in neurotransmitters could interfere with the transmission of messages, leading to symptoms.
Environmental/Psychological – Stress could trigger delusions. Alcohol and substance abuse may also contribute to the condition. Isolated populations, such as immigrants and those with poor hearing and/or sight, may be more vulnerable to developing delusions.
The Difference Between Delusions and OCD
There has been a great deal of research into the area of delusions and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). This is because severe OCD can mimic delusional behavior. One study found that the difference is that obsessions often relate to ideas about “contamination, symmetry and/or aggressive impulses.” The person is overwhelmed by the obsessions; however, they are able to recognize them as irrational and a product of their own mind. By contrast, delusions are firmly fixed, false beliefs that are held true despite very strong evidence to suggest that they are incorrect. Researchers warn, though, that OCD and a form of delusion or psychosis may coexist with OCD and may be unrelated. Obsessions could become a delusion, and delusions could become obsessions. In addition, obsessions may trigger a psychotic episode, and could be misdiagnosed as delusions or hallucinations. Research indicates that recognition and treatment of OCD may improve the outcome of delusions related to psychosis.
Getting the Right Diagnosis
Delusions have several possible causes and can be misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Getting the right diagnosis is crucial. Unfortunately, people around the person with delusions may try other approaches before helping the person get a firm diagnosis. This can delay treatment or lead the person onto the wrong course of treatment. Residential mental health treatment is often the gold standard for both diagnosis and treatment.
Why Self-Help Is Not Enough
Once an individual has gone through inpatient delusion treatment, it is important that they have ongoing support, including medical and psychiatric care to monitor their condition. Ongoing therapy is also crucial. It is unfair to expect a person with delusions to address this condition through self-help measures alone because at the onset of treatment they may not know the difference between reality and delusions. Research shows someone suffering from delusions will be mistrustful of and possibly paranoid about self-help or support groups, and unsupervised group involvement may cause more harm than good.
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