Delusional Disorder Symptoms
Imagine being lost in the depths of an idea that you believe to be true, contrary to any evidence provided to you. No matter how many people tell you the opposite, you are not shaken; your belief persists. This is a delusion.
There are many types of delusions that people experience. It is not known what causes delusions, but they are often very difficult to break, like a glitch in a computer operating system. However, people with delusions often remain functional: they continue working, maintaining relationships and taking care of themselves.
Relationships can become affected when a delusion centers around a specific person. For instance, in erotomania, the delusional person believes that another individual (i.e., often of higher status, like a celebrity) is in love with them, despite having never met that higher status person. In the jealousy type of delusional disorder, a man or woman wholeheartedly believes that his or her spouse is sleeping with someone else, despite no evidence.
A person with a persecutory delusion may believe that someone is out to cause them harm. Paranoia does not always have to be present; the person may be functional and continue working without being delusional at work. But when he or she arrives home, they may start ruminating on their delusion. Persecutory delusions are the most common type experienced.
The difference between delusional disorder and other psychotic disorders is that the former does not greatly impact the person’s life; they often remain productive. On the other hand, schizophrenics have a higher likelihood of becoming nonfunctional due to the nature of their illness: auditory hallucinations, delusions and disorganized speech and behavior.
Delusions are the most difficult symptoms to treat in psychotic patients; auditory hallucinations can easily go away with antipsychotic medications, but delusions make up the structure of a patient’s reality. If the structure collapses, two possible scenarios emerge: the patient obtains a positive realization or becomes depressed when confronted with reality.
Always be careful when confronting someone’s delusion; violence is not uncommon when a delusional person feels threatened or offended. Always use your heart and be empathetic to anyone you talk to, delusional or not!
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