Delusional Disorder (Delusions): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

Delusional Disorder (Delusions): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

What are Delusions?


Delusion is a condition in which a person is not able to differentiate between real and imaginary things. In this disease victim believes in imaginary things that aren’t really there. Delusion can be a symptom of many mental diseases, but delusions are called when a person is mainly experiencing confusion. In this condition, a person still remains confused about one or more topics for a month or more than a month. The main cause of having this mental condition may have financial or legal issues for a long time.

A person with delusions may continue to perform his/her daily or normal functions and doesn’t behave strangely. However, he/she is so much negatively affected by this mental condition that it greatly affects his/her normal life. A doctor or psychiatrist examines these symptoms to test for confusion. Treatment also may require counseling.

Types of Delusions


There are some types of delusions and every type of delusions has a different subject. They may be of following type —

Somatic: In somatic type of delusional disorder, a person feels that he/she is feeling something or he/she has a physical disability such as feeling as if insects are crawling on or inside their skin.

Persecutory: In this type of delusion, someone may feels that —

  • They are being spied on
  • They are being cheated
  • They are being given drugs
  • They are being followed
  • They are being maligned
  • Either way they are being treated unfairly

Grandiose: In grandiose delusion, a people believe that they have an extraordinary talent, ability, special identity, knowledge or power or they have a relationship with a famous person or God.

Jealous: In this type of delusions, individuals may feel that their partner is not loyal to them.

Erotomanic: In erotomanic delusions, an individual may feel that a famous personality or figure loves them.

Mixed: Mixed type of delusion is accompanied by the symptoms of different types given above to the person.

Unspecified: If a person does not have any of the above symptoms of delusions, it is an unspecified type.

Symptoms of Delusions


The initial symptoms of delusions may be —

  • Doubts for friends’ loyalty and credibility
  • Keep in mind complaints
  • Quick response to anything
  • To scare even good things or trivial matters
  • Thinking of himself as a victim of exploitation

Psychosomatic Symptoms

  • Getting excited easily
  • Harming oneself
  • Problems in social relationships
  • Have difficulty working
  • Onset or progression of mental disorder
  • Bitterness in love
  • Fight people out of confusion
  • Knowingly keep yourself alone

Behavioral Symptoms —

  • Behave strangely
  • Aggressive behavior towards others
  • Always speaking against the person in front
  • Not able to work properly in office

Causes of Delusions


Like many other mental disorders, the cause of delusional disorder is not yet known. However, genetic, biological and environmental factors are considered to be responsible for this. They are —

Genetic:

Delusions are more common in the individuals who have the history of delusions or schizophrenia in their families. It is believed that the tendency to develop this condition comes from the parents to their children.

Biological:

Researchers are exploring how damage to parts of the brain can cause delusional disease. Imbalance of certain substances or chemicals in the brain is also considered to be the cause of delusions.

Stress:

Trauma and stress can also trigger this mental condition. Meanwhile, people who tend to be isolated stay more vulnerable to developing the delusional disorder as well.

Risk Factors


There may be the following risk factors of delusional disorder —

  • Stress
  • Excessive use of alcohol and drugs
  • People who live alone, such as people from outside, people who hear or see less, etc. are at a higher risk of getting delusions

Prevention of Delusional Disease


There is no way to avoid delusion. However, early detection and treatment can reduce the impact on a person’s life, family and friends.

Diagnosis


If you are experiencing symptoms of delusional disease, then your doctor or health care provider will examine the problems and will take a physical examination.

  • Although there are no tests available to detect delirium, your doctor will determine the physical cause of your symptoms with tests such as X-ray or blood tests.
  • If no physical cause is detected in the examination, your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist who finds out the root cause of your mental illnesses.
  • The psychiatrist will diagnose this condition based on the symptoms and behavior of the person and may also ask some questions to the patient. For this, specially designed questions are asked, based on the answers of which the patient’s condition is estimated. During this time, psychiatrist keeps an eye on the behavior of the patient and based on this, conclusions are made about the patient’s condition.
  • On the basis of this conclusion, it is seen that the patient is suffering from which category and at what level the problem is based on which the treatment is provided.
  • If delusion persists for a month and there is no other psychological problem with it, it is considered to be an illusion.
  • It is more difficult to detect the condition when the patient hides his/her emotions and thoughts. The patient feels that his/her thoughts are genuine, hence he/she is not ready to seek medical treatment.
  • Talking with the friends and family members of the patient can help in detecting delusional disorder.

Treatment of Delusions


Medications and psychotherapy are commonly used to treat delusions, however, only drugs can’t treat delusions. People whose symptoms are severe and can harm themselves or others can be kept in hospital until their condition returns to normal.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is the main treatment for delusions. During this therapy, the patient reveals his/her symptoms in a safe environment. Many types of psychotherapy can treat a patient’s behavior and mental problems. With this, a person can learn to control his/her symptoms and can also know ways to avoid it.

  • Through individual psychotherapy, the patient is able to know and change the thoughts that cause the problem of delusions.
  • With behavioral therapy, a person knows and changes the behavior that causes delusions.
  • Family therapy teaches the patient’s family members to treat the patient with love and care.

Medication

It may include —

  • First-Generation Antipsychotics: Anti—psychotropic drugs used to inhibit the function of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which causes delusions in the brain.
  • Atypical Antipsychotics: These medications are considered more successful in treating delusions. These drugs inhibits dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain that cause delusions.
  • Tranquilizers: Sometimes these medicines are used to prevent brain disturbances such as anxiety, agitation or sleeping disorders in the people with delusional disorders.
  • Antidepressants: Antidepressants are the medication used to treat depression.

Complications of Delusional Disease


The following problems can be caused by this mental condition —

  • Delusional disorder can cause the patient to go into depression.
  • The patient may be alone with delusions, especially if the symptoms of delusions are affecting their relationships.
  • People with delusions do not understand that they have a problem that needs medical treatment. They may feel ashamed and afraid to seek medical treatment. If not treated, delusions can become a life—long problem.

REFERENCES :

  1. Delusional Disorder as a Partial Psychosis; Stein Opjordsmoen, 2014 Mar; 40(2): 244–247; PMCID: PMC3932094; PMID: 24421383
  2. Delusional Disorder: Management and Treatment; Cleveland Clinic; Cleveland, Ohio.
  3. Delusional Disorder: Paranoia and Related Illnesses; Alistair Munro; Cambridge University Press, 1999. 261 pages
  4. Understanding delusions; Chandra Kiran, Suprakash Chaudhary; PMID: 21234155, PMCID: PMC3016695. Ind Psychiatry J. 2009 Jan-Jun; 18(1): 3–18.
  5. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT); National Health Service [Internet]. UK.
  6. What Is a Delusion?; By Amy Morin, LCSW; Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD

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