The signs, symptoms, and effects of delusional disorder can be different for every person impacted. Learning about delusional disorder is one of the first steps towards getting better.
Learn About Delusional Disorder
The beliefs that we possess about life and reality control our everyday lives. Delusions are beliefs that are strongly held despite evidence proving the contrary. When an individual believes in something that is not actually occurring, and when he or she holds on to that belief despite evidence proving otherwise, then that individual might have delusional disorder.
Those with delusional disorder can have trouble differentiating myth from reality. When the individual experiences episodes of delusion or false thoughts for more than one month, and those delusions are not the result of any other physical or mental health concern, he or she might be diagnosed with delusion disorder. This condition can have a significant negative impact on virtually all aspects of an individual’s everyday life; however it may not necessarily prevent that individual from functioning within society on a regular basis.
This mental health condition can cause an individual to experience a number of delusions, including the following:
- Grandiose delusion – This occurs when a person believes that he or she is famous or has a significant talent.
- Persecutory delusion – This type of delusion makes an individual feel as if he or she is being held back, attacked, or plotted against.
- Somatic delusion – This type of delusion makes a person feel his or her body has been or is being invaded by outside forces, illness, insects, and/or other invasive presences.
- Jealous delusion – This occurs when a person has the belief that a partner is unfaithful.
- Erotomanic delusion – This happens when an individual believes that a specific person, often a famous person or someone else who does not even know the individual, is in love with him or her.
Delusion disorder will become evident once the individual speaks about the irrational ideas and delusional beliefs that he or she possesses and refuses to listen to others who believe differently or who present clear evidence that disproves the delusional belief.
Even if it does not pose an overwhelming hindrance to the functionality and performance of everyday tasks, delusional disorder can still cause a variety of negative impacts and complications within an individual’s life. Thankfully, there are treatments available that can help an individual overcome delusional disorder, regain a firm grasp on what is and is not real, and otherwise properly manage his or her symptoms.
Based on the information from the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), 0.2% of the population might experience delusional disorder at least once within their lives. This type of illness impacts both women and men at a relatively even rate; however, men have a greater risk of developing jealous delusions.
Causes and Risk Factors
Genetic: Having a family history of schizophrenia and schizotypal personality disorder creates a higher risk for individuals to develop this type of disorder. Older individuals are also at greater risk for developing delusional disorder than younger individuals.
- Being of older age
- History of schizotypal personality disorder or schizophrenia
Signs and Symptoms of Delusional Disorder
As is also the case with other mental health disorders, the symptoms connected to delusional disorder might vary from individual to individual, especially considering the motivation of these delusions. Below are some of the symptoms to look for when attempting to identify delusional disorder:
- Extensive antagonism such as filing unnecessary lawsuits
- Ability to perform well in areas not that are not related to the delusion
- Unusual or abnormal behavior such as removing “insects” on the skin that are not there in reality
- Inability to perform well at work
- Aggressiveness either towards a specific person or to others
- Believing that someone is out to harm the individual
- Believing that the individual has achieved great things or is popular
- Believing that his or her partner is being unfaithful
- Believing that the body has a foul smell or is being invaded by insects
- Believing that someone is deeply in love with the individual
- Difficulty socializing
- Consistent tension in romantic situations
Effects of Delusional Disorder
In most cases, delusional disorder allows individuals to perform regular tasks. However, this disorder can still inflict considerable damage on an individual’s life.
The potential negative effects of struggling with delusional disorder can include the following:
- Inability to manage finances
- Development or worsening of other mental health disorders
- Poor performance at work or school
- Self-inflicted injury to address the delusion, which is often present in those experiencing somatic delusions
- Self-imposed withdrawal or isolation from others
- Hatred, violent, or cruelty against others
- Interaction with the legal system
- Difficulty socializing or building relationships
- Conflict in relationships
- Job loss
Fortunately, delusional disorder is a treatable condition. Comprehensive treatment, often incorporating both therapy and medication, can empower individuals to regain control of their thoughts and beliefs, manage their symptoms, and resume their pursuit of a healthier, happier, and more productive future, free from the constraints and limitations of delusional disorder.