By Medicover Hospitals / 11 Feb 2021
Delusions are defined as fixed and false beliefs that conflict with reality. Despite the evidence to the contrary, a person in a delusional state cannot set aside his convictions. Through misinterpretation of events, delusions are also strengthened. Delusions have been found to occur in the context of many disease states (both general physical and mental) and are of particular diagnostic importance in psychotic disorders including schizophrenia, Paraphrenia, bipolar disorder with depressive spells, and psychotic depression.
- What are delusions?
- When to visit a Doctor?
- Home remedies
What are Delusions?
Delusional disorder, formerly called paranoid disorder, is a type of serious mental illness called "psychosis" in which a person cannot distinguish between the real and the imagined. The main characteristic of this disorder is the presence of delusions, which are unshakable beliefs in something false. Delusions are defined as fixed and false beliefs that conflict with reality. Despite the evidence to the contrary, a person in a delusional state cannot set aside his convictions. Through misinterpretation of events, delusions are also strengthened.
Types of Delusions:
There are different delusional disorders based on the major theme of experienced delusions. Types of delusional disorder include:
- Erotomanic: The person believes that someone is in love with him/her and could try to contact that person. Often it is someone important or famous. This can lead to stalking behavior.
- Grandiose: This person has an exaggerated sense of worth, power, knowledge, or identity. They may believe that they have exceptional talent or that they made an important discovery.
- Jealous: A person with this type believes that their spouse or sexual partner is unfaithful.
- Persecutory: Someone who has this belief that he/she (or someone close to him/her) is being abused, or that someone is spying on him/her or plans to harm him/her. They may submit repeated complaints to legal authorities.
- Somatic: They think they have a physical defect or a medical problem.
- Mixed: These persons have two or three of the above forms of delusions.
As with many other psychotic disorders, the exact cause of the delusional disorder is unknown.
- Genetic: The fact that delusional disorder is more common in people who have relatives with delusional disorder or schizophrenia suggests that there could be a genetic factor involved. It is believed that, as with other mental disorders, the tendency to develop a delusional disorder could be passed down from parent to child.
- Biological: A study shows how abnormalities in certain areas of the brain may involve in the development of delusional disorders. An imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters, has also been linked to the formation of delusional symptoms. Neurotransmitters are medications that help the brain's nerve cells transfer messages to each other. An imbalance in these chemicals can interfere with the transmission of messages and cause symptoms.
- Ambient/psychological: Data indicates that stress may induce delusional disorder. Alcohol and drug abuse can also contribute to the condition. People who tend to be isolated, such as immigrants or people with vision and hearing problems, appear to be more vulnerable to developing the delusional disorder.
Delusions vs hallucinations:
|Delusion is a fixed yet false belief which is often fanciful and derived by deception
||Hallucination is a faulty perception in the absence of any external stimulus
|Can often appear irrational or bizarre to people around
||Responding to auditory hallucination may appear as real conversations to others
|Mostly occur due to underlying psychological or neurological disorders
||Can occur due to sleep deprivation, alcohol withdrawal or drug abuse & secondary to psychological conditions like schizophrenia
|Often need psychotherapy in combination with drugs like antipsychotics, antidepressants, and anxiolytics
||Can treat symptomatically with antipsychotics alone
If a person experiences delusional symptoms, their doctor will begin by taking a medical history and performing a physical exam. Laboratory tests may be ordered to rule out any physical illness that may cause the symptoms, although there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose the delusional disorder, the doctor may use various diagnostic tests, such as X-rays or blood tests, to highlight physical illness as the cause of your symptoms.
If the doctor cannot find a physical reason for the symptoms, he or she can refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist, health professionals specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illness. To assess a person for a psychotic disorder, therapists and psychologists use specially developed interview and evaluation methods. The doctor or therapist bases his diagnosis on the report of the person's symptoms and his observation of the person's attitude and behavior.
A delusional condition diagnosis is made if:
- The person has one or more delusions that last a month or more
- The person has never been diagnosed with schizophrenia; hallucinations, if they have them, relate to the themes of their delusions
- Apart from delusions and their effects, your life is not affected. Other behavior is neither strange nor strange
- Major manic or depressive episodes, if they have occurred, have been brief, compared to delusions.
- There is no other mental disorder, medication, or medical condition to blame.
Treatment for delusional disorder usually includes medications and psychotherapy (a type of counseling); however, delusional disorder is highly resistant to treatment with medication alone.
Psychotherapy is the primary treatment for delusional disorder. It provides a safe environment for patients to discuss their symptoms while promoting healthier and more functional attitudes and behaviors.
Psychosocial treatments. The behavioral and psychological symptoms associated with delusional illness can be helped by various psychosocial interventions. Psychosocial therapies include the following:
- Individual psychotherapy can help the person to recognize and correct the underlying thinking that has been distorted.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps the person learn to recognize and change the thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings.
- Family therapy can help families deal more effectively with a loved one who has a delusional disorder, allowing them to contribute to a better outcome for the person.
- Typical or first-generation antipsychotics: These drugs are used to block dopamine receptors in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is thought to be involved in the creation of delusions.
- Atypical antipsychotics: These drugs are used to block dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain. This leads to a different side effect profile than first-generation antipsychotics.
- Tranquilizers: These medications are sometimes used to treat anxiety, agitation, or sleep problems common in people with delusional disorders.
- Antidepressants: These medications can be used to treat depression if someone with delirium experiences a mood problem.
Managing the environment can also help someone with delusions. For example, if someone believes that the government is spying on them on television, it may be better for that person to avoid watching television. Or, if a person thinks they are being followed when they enter the community alone, it may be better to have someone accompany them when they leave.
When to visit a Doctor?
Most of the time, your loved ones will not suddenly lose full control of themselves. You will probably notice signs that lead to a psychotic episode.
Symptoms vary, but there are some common ones, including:
Seek medical advice if your loved one changes his or her mood or their thinking seems unusual. If he has stopped taking his medications, but it doesn't seem like it is going to hurt you or anyone else, encourage him to visit the doctor with you.
- Mistrustful or suspicious beliefs or ideas
- Unexpected outbursts
- Isolation from friends and family
- Noticeable mood swings
- Trouble sleeping
- Strange behavior
There is no known way to prevent delusional disorder. But early diagnosis and treatment can help decrease the disruption to a person's life, family, and friends.
Frequently Asked Questions:
A delusion is a belief that is clearly false and that indicates an abnormality in the content of thought of the affected person.
Although delusions can be a symptom of more common disorders, such as schizophrenia, delusional disorder itself is quite rare.
The answer is that anxiety can lead to psychosis if the anxiety is severe enough. Symptoms of anxiety and psychosis can mimic common psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.
If the delusional disorder is not treated, the following are some potentially negative consequences that a person may experience: Disruption in social relationships. Social isolation. Tension with the spouse or partner.
Science Direct - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272735801001064
The British Psychological Society - https://bpspsychub.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1348/014466502760387461
Springer - https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4615-6681-6_14