Delusional disorder is a rare mental health condition. An individual grappling with this disorder struggles with delusions but unlike schizophrenia, there is an absence of hallucinations. Also, the person does not suffer from any mood disorder. The one suffering from this disorder entertains delusions, which are mostly false. These could be about something happening in the present moment or that happened before or something that could happen again. A person might suspect that he or she is being followed which may not not the case. He or she may harbor beliefs that are bizarre and non-realistic. A person struggling with this disorder generally lives a normal life without the daily activities being affected however; things can get ugly if the disorder progresses over time due to delayed treatment or substance abuse.
The symptoms usually manifest during middle or late adulthood. It may commence when an individual becomes obsessed about loyalty of a friend or a loved one, or when someone develops general mistrust of people. Getting suspicious, perceiving threats and thinking that one may be exploited or cheated are some of the common signs. Non-bizarre symptoms may be seemingly realistic like the feeling of an insect crawling under the skin, which is why the disorder may go undiagnosed.
Types of delusional disorders
There are multiple subtypes of delusional disorder such as the ones given below:
- Erotomanic: This type convinces the sufferer that someone is in love with him or her, which can result in stalking. A person may consider himself or herself to be a celebrity or someone with high social standing.
- Grandiose: When a person believes that he or she has some great trait or a talent and is known to someone very powerful. This type promotes feeling of self-importance.
- Jealous: This makes someone feel that a lover, partner or spouse is unfaithful, which can lead to violence, and physical or verbal abuse.
- Persecutory: This type convinces someone that he or she is being stalked, threatened or being unfairly treated. The sufferer may take legal action.
- Somatic: A person suffering from this type starts imagining that he or she has some physical illness, which can’t be treated.
- Mixed: These are mixed delusions where one may suffer from more than one type of delusion.
Concurrent substance abuse
Multiple mind-altering substances are able to produce delusions in an individual. It is, therefore, important to understand that for right diagnosis of delusional disorder, the symptoms should not be the result of substance abuse. On the other hand, a person struggling with a delusional disorder might turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism to self-medicate. Substances like alcohol, heroin, and benzodiazepines may suppress the symptoms of delusional disorder as they slow down some processes of the central nervous system (CNS), affecting blood pressure, respiratory rate and heart rate. Since most of these substances are depressants, they can mitigate stress and anxiety and provide short-term relief. This might pave the way for dependence, abuse and addiction.
Substance abuse can also exacerbate the delusional disorder symptoms and encourage a person to behave aggressively, indulge in self-harm and adopt risky behavior. Therefore, a comprehensive treatment is indispensable for the management of delusional disorder and substance abuse.
Road to recovery
Since an individual can manage day-to-day life comfortably, delusional disorder often goes undiagnosed. But substance abuse can worsen deranged behavior. It is thus indispensable that treatment is sought for both the problems simultaneously.
Co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis are complex in nature; nonetheless, it is possible to treat such difficult cases with adequate medical assistance and care. The California Dual Diagnosis Helpline can connect you to the best treatment centers offering state-of-the-art dual diagnosis treatment in California. Call us at our 24/7 helpline 855-980-1736 or chat online with one of our medical advisers to know more about evidence-based dual diagnosis treatment centers in California.
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