Delusional disorder is often a chronic (ongoing) disease, however many patients can find relief from their symptoms when appropriately treated. Some people recover entirely, while others experience bouts of delusional beliefs followed by periods of remission (lack of symptoms). Unfortunately, many persons suffering with this illness do not seek treatment.
Patients with delusional disorder believe that reality does not exist or exists only in their mind. They may also believe that they are being persecuted or otherwise discriminated against because of their belief system. These fears can lead to distress and disability if not addressed by psychotherapy or other treatments.
People with this condition feel compelled to act on their delusions; for example, they may try to escape persecution by fleeing home or country. Psychosis is a term used to describe mental problems involving loss of contact with reality. Patients with this condition exhibit clear signs of psychosis, such as having false beliefs or feelings about people or things that aren't real.
Psychotic symptoms can be mild or severe. If a patient is experiencing mild symptoms, they may be able to cope with them on their own. However, if the symptoms are more severe, then immediate medical attention is needed. Psychiatric hospitals and clinics are available to treat persons with psychotic disorders.
It is important to distinguish delusional disorder from other mental illnesses with similar names (such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder).
Delusional disorder is a mental illness in which a person has delusions but with no accompanying prominent hallucinations, thought disorders, mood disorders, or significant flattening of affect. Delusions are a specific symptom of psychosis. People with this condition believe that things are not what they appear to be, or that people cannot be trusted. Accurate facts have no effect on their belief system.
People with this condition feel a need to tell others about their delusions, usually about how plans have been arranged, people have been hired to kill them, or they have been visited by special angels. They may also claim to hear voices inside their head. Sometimes these delusions are so strong that people will try to find out whether they are true by asking others for evidence that could disprove their suspicions. For example, if someone believes that someone is trying to poison them, they might ask their doctor for proof that there is really no such thing as poison or doctors who know how to cure people.
In addition to feeling the need to talk about their beliefs, people with this condition often act upon their delusions. They may go on walks without anyone else being around, start fires in public places, or throw away valuable belongings such as cars or houses that they believes belong to others. In some cases, people have even killed others because of their delusions.
Although the condition might resolve itself in a short period of time, delusions can last for months or years. A person with this disorder's innate unwillingness to accept therapy worsens the prognosis. However, if the patient is willing to cooperate, he or she can eventually recover fully.
A delusion is described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a false belief based on an inaccurate inference about external reality that is firmly held notwithstanding what practically everyone else thinks and despite indisputable and clear proof or evidence to the contrary. A person with a delusion does not recognize that they are believing in something that isn't true.
Delusions can be classified into two main types: fixed and non-fixed.
In a fixed delusion, the individual believes this to be the only way things can be or any other belief system is wrong. With regard to other people's opinions, they often feel very strongly about their conviction even if no one else agrees with them. They may even try to convert others to their view or defend their position even when it's obvious they're alone in this belief.
In a non-fixed delusion, the individual knows that others disagree with their belief but still holds fast to it. They may also know that there are medical reasons why someone might believe what they do but they don't change their mind nonetheless. Finally, a non-fixed delusion can also exist without anyone else knowing about it; these individuals tend to keep their thoughts private.
People with delusions usually have another mental disorder called schizoaffective disorder. In this case, the person has both psychotic and mood disorders at the same time.
Apart from the issue of their hallucination, people with delusional disorder can typically continue to socialize and operate normally, and they do not behave in an obviously unusual or bizarre manner. This is in contrast to patients suffering from other psychotic diseases, who may also have delusions as a sign of their illness. Patients with delusional disorder rarely act on their delusions, though sometimes they will refuse treatment or leave the hospital against medical advice.
Delusional disorder is one of several psychiatric conditions called "psychotic disorders." People with these disorders experience hallucinations and/or delusions. They may believe these experiences are real even though you and others around them know this isn't true. In addition, they may feel persecuted or otherwise discriminated against because of these beliefs.
Symptoms include but are not limited to: believing something without proof; believing false information that others consider facts; feeling like someone else is controlling your thoughts or actions; feeling like you're being watched or monitored; hearing voices or seeing things that others cannot; wanting to tell everyone about it (or trying to spread the news); acting on the belief, for example by doing things like harming yourself or others.
People with delusional disorder often have another mental problem called "delusionality." This means that their symptoms are so strong that they can't function properly at work or home. They may also have problems forming relationships due to their inability to understand how others could want to be around them.
Delusional disorder is separate from schizophrenia and cannot be diagnosed if the criteria for schizophrenia are met. With the exception of the delusion, a person with a delusional disorder's functionality is often not hindered and his or her conduct is not overtly abnormal. Delusions may appear plausible on the surface, yet...