Delusional Disorder

Delusional Disorder involves psychosis, which affects a person’s ability to differentiate between what is real and what is not real, and that the person will hold onto a false belief regardless of the evidence to the contrary. A delusion involves a circumstance or situation that could be possible even though it would be unlikely.  Delusional disorder is certainly impactful to the individual, but consists of a small percent of the population (approximately 0.2%).  It involves an individual experiencing delusions for at least one month or longer, but that they do not experience any other psychotic symptoms, and have not met what’s called “Criterion A” for Schizophrenia.

Although these delusions may be intermittently disruptive to their lives, individuals can “act fine” the majority of the time, functioning in a socially acceptable way. Delusions are often symptoms masking other disorders, such as schizophrenia.

So it is important to rule out that the delusions are not a result of a diagnosis like schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depressive and bipolar disorders, schizoaffective disorder, involve a substance such as cocaine, medicine-induced psychotic disorder, delirium, or a neurocognitive disorder such as due to Alzheimer’s disease.

As with many mental illnesses, there are several types of delusions including:

Erotomanic: where the person with delusions thinks someone is in love with them
Grandiose: where the delusional person thinks they have a great talent or insight, or made a great discovery.  Again, potentially plausible but not probable
Jealous: consists of a delusional theme where a spouse/partner/lover is unfaithful
Persecutory: where the delusional theme is one of persecution such as being followed, spied upon, poisoned, harassed, and more
Somatic: as soma is Greek for body, this is where the delusion centers around some aspect of bodily functions or sensations such as the individual has a foul odor, an infestation of insects either on their skin or underneath it with many experiencing these insects crawling around, and parts of her/his body are not functioning
Mixed:  is where there is no specific dominant delusional theme
Unspecified: is as it sounds where the delusion does not match any of the above and cannot be clearly determined

In general, non-bizarre delusions are a sign that a person may be suffering from this condition. In other words, they perceive something that is not there or is not currently happening but it plausibly could be.

Treatment can often be challenging, but delusional disorder is considered as a treatable condition that responds to medication.  It can also include a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and when appropriate, self-help research and exercises. A doctor may prescribe antipsychotics for the delusions, and antidepressants to treat any co-occurring depression, or other combinations of medications depending upon the specifics.

As always, if you or someone you know is experiencing some of the above symptoms, you are strongly encouraged to seek the help of a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.


The above summary by WebPsychology Staff.