Delusional disorder is a type of psychotic disorder in which a person is unable to tell what is real from what they are imagining.
People who have delusional disorder often experience nonbizarre delusions. As Cleveland Clinic explains, these involve situations that could realistically occur, such as being followed, lied to, or loved from a distance. But instead of them actually happening, the delusions involve misinterpretations of situations that are either untrue or greatly exaggerated.
Fortunately, delusional disorder is treatable, and help is available. At East Tennessee Behavioral Health, we offer inpatient and outpatient treatment for people who are living with delusional disorder.
What Are the Types of Delusional Disorder?
Several types of delusional disorder exist, and it’s helpful to categorize these subtypes by the nature of a person’s delusions. They are:
- Erotomanic – Having the belief that another person, possibly someone famous, is in love with them
- Grandiose – Having an overinflated sense of power, self-worth, or identity
- Jealous – Often believing that their spouse or partner is unfaithful without any real evidence
- Persecutory – Believing that someone or something is spying on, attempting to harm, or mistreating them
- Somatic – Believing that they have a physical defect or medical disorder
- Mixed – Having two or more of the delusions listed above
- Unspecified – Struggling with delusions that don’t fit into any of the above subtypes
Signs & Symptoms of Delusional Disorder
As the name suggests, delusions are the most common symptom for a person who is living with delusional disorder. But the nature and severity of those delusions can lead to other signs and symptoms, including the following:
- Frequent paranoia
- Accusing partners of being unfaithful
- Attempting to contact famous people who they believe are in love with them
- Trying to attain legal protection based on the conspiratorial actions of others
- Seeking medical help for nonexistent ailments
- Lying about a secret relationship with a prominent person
- Acting aggressively toward someone they believe is trying to hurt or undermine them
- Obsessive thoughts
- Mood swings
- Impaired judgment
If you find yourself struggling with any of these delusional disorder signs and symptoms, it may be time to consider professional treatment.
Effects of Delusional Disorder
Due to the different subtypes, delusional disorder effects can vary considerably. Still, there are some effects that are relatively common for someone who is living with delusional disorder, such as:
- Poor performance at work or in school
- Social withdrawal
- Struggling to maintain relationships with friends or loved ones
- Medical problems related to lack of self-care or violent behaviors
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicidal ideation
- Legal difficulties, including potential arrest or incarceration
- Onset or worsening of other mental health concerns
- Substance use or addiction
By receiving comprehensive delusional disorder treatment, you can give yourself a better chance to stop some of the effects you may already be experiencing and stave off dangerous ramifications in the future.
Delusional Disorder Statistics
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) estimates that 0.02% of the population in the United States suffers from symptoms of delusional disorder at some point in their life.
The most frequent subtype is persecutory. The jealous subtype is probably more common in males than in females, according to the DSM-5, but otherwise there are no major gender differences in the overall frequency of delusional disorder.
Delusional disorder most often occurs in midlife to late life, with the average age of onset being 40 years, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Therapies Used in Delusional Disorder Treatment
Because delusional disorder has so many different subtypes, the best therapies are those that recognize the individual who is struggling and the subtype of delusion they are experiencing.
At East Tennessee Behavioral Health, we provide a personalized delusional disorder treatment plan for each person that considers their treatment goals, mental health history, and unique needs.
Before admission, we’ll guide you through a comprehensive assessment that will lay the groundwork for your delusional disorder treatment plan. Based on what we learn, your plan may include:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Medication management services
- Family therapy
- Detoxification services if you have a co-occurring substance use disorder
- Basic medical care
Our staff will take into account what is working and what may be less effective and make any necessary adjustments throughout your time with us.
We will do our best to approach your treatment using the methods of healing that are most effective for you. Your delusional disorder treatment may include elements of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational enhancement, and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
Benefits of Delusional Disorder Treatment
Delusional disorder can make it seem like you are living in an alternate reality. Though many people who experience symptoms of delusional disorder may function well initially, professional treatment can make a significant difference in their quality of life.
A delusional disorder treatment center can help you find renewed hope if the thoughts and ideas you’re struggling with have left you overwhelmed. You’ll work with outstanding professionals who can help you get to the root of your struggles and develop skills to manage your symptoms.
Interventions such as group therapy may also give you the chance to hear from others who have been affected by delusional disorder. By sharing your experiences, you may begin to feel like you’re not alone on the road to better health.
Choosing the Right Delusional Disorder Treatment Center
The process of finding a delusional disorder treatment center isn’t always easy. The first and most important thing to look for, though, is a treatment place that provides personalized care.
The best delusional disorder treatment places will consider your specific symptoms and current level of functioning. Questions to ask as you search for the right delusional disorder treatment center include:
- Will they help me find the right level of care for my current situation?
- Is the admissions process straightforward or complicated?
- Does this facility provide a one-size-fits-all approach, or does it offer treatment with a personalized touch?
- What staff members will I have a chance to work with?
- Are there plans in place for when treatment ends?
At East Tennessee Behavioral Health, we’ll help determine the level of care that is most appropriate for you. We will do our best to get you into treatment quickly, and our team will provide you with a personalized treatment plan that reflects your unique journey. Finally, we’ll leave you with a detailed aftercare plan to help you build on your progress and thrive long after treatment ends.
This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at East Tennessee Behavioral Health.