HealthSheets™


Understanding Delusional Disorders

When a person has a delusional disorder, he or she believes things that aren’t true. For instance, your loved one may be convinced that others want to harm him or her. Or your loved one might believe that he or she is severely ill when that is not true. These thoughts may cause great distress. But there are treatments that can help.

What are the symptoms?

A person with this disorder is likely to be overcome by untrue thoughts known as delusions. In many cases, these thoughts involve issues from the affected person’s real life. These thoughts may become overwhelming and cause the affected person to do strange things. As a result, delusions may affect relationships or even employment. The affected person also might be depressed or angry.

Getting help

Urge your loved one to seek treatment. Your doctor, local hospital, or mental health clinic can help. Medicines and therapy may help relieve many of this disorder’s symptoms.

Medicines

Some medicines may help the person think more clearly. Others may make them feel less depressed. These medicines also may have side effects. If your loved one is troubled by side effects, be sure his or her doctor knows. Changing the dose or type of medicine may help. A person taking these medicines should not stop, even if he or she feels better. If the person stops taking medicines, symptoms will likely come back. Also, these medicines should not be increased to manage delusional symptoms without first speaking to the doctor.

Talk therapy

Talking to a therapist may be a great relief. A therapist can help your loved one better understand and control his or her thoughts and learn ways to help prevent future problems. But most people with delusional disorder will need at least some form of medicine to control their symptoms.  

Common delusional disorders

  • Paranoid delusions. People with this delusion believe that other people want to harm them. As a result, they may be angry and resentful. They might even become violent to protect themselves.

  • Somatic delusions. These delusions affect the senses. People with a somatic delusion may think that a part of their body has a foul smell. Or they may feel insects are crawling on their skin.

  • Grandiose delusions. People with this delusion believe that they have a great talent or skill. They also may claim to know, or be related to, someone famous.

  • Delusions of jealousy. A person with this delusion may be convinced a loved one isn’t faithful. The person may then stalk the loved one or try to control the loved one’s actions.

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