Mental disorders similar to schizophrenia – 3: Delusional Disorder

Perception is a relative term. Different people can perceive the same thing in different ways. And at times, people might try to read things even when they do not exist. The power of one’s imagination cannot be ignored. Disability to differentiate between real and unreal can make it difficult to manage emotions and to function normally in day-to-day situations.

The inability to distinguish between real events and things woven by the mind while a person is in a chronic state of apparition is a serious mental disorder, identified as schizophrenia. Patients complain of seeing things that do not exist, of hearing voices akin to hallucinations or complain about being followed for harmful reasons. Such patients are advised timely treatment to prevent deterioration of the condition.

Delusional disorder may mimic schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is viewed as a life-long disorder requiring both medications and therapies to control its symptoms, but signs of certain mental disorders mimic expressions of schizophrenics, thus, requiring professional experts to diagnose the actual disorder. One such disorder is delusional disorder, a kind of mental health problem wherein the affected tends to misinterpret his or her imaginations as real.

People afflicted with this disorder struggle with non-bizarre delusions based on past experiences in real life. Physicians explain that the manifestations of delusional disorder continue for a minimum of one month without other signs of schizophrenia. The delusions may be:

  • Non-bizarre: Such emotions, though stem from real, are imaginary where one suspects things like being followed, poisoned, infected or cheated by his or her spouse.
  • Bizarre: In such cases, patients complain about weird experiences like their undaunted belief in someone having removed their internal organs without leaving behind a scar.

Compared to long-term disorders like schizophrenia, delusional disorder is relatively uncommon. Despite suffering from major illusions, other psychosocial abilities remain intact.

Treatment of delusional disorder

Not much is known about the reasons behind this disorder. Doctors attribute its existence to genetic traits, biochemical factors and environmental circumstances that are said to play a major role in its development. 

People with delusional disorder do not show any major impairment or drastic changes in behavioral patterns. Such people continue to stay employed bereft of the existence of their own illness, though symptoms may exacerbate, if not treated timely.

Clinicians diagnose the existence of this disorder by making a proper and detailed clinical assessment, inquiring the patients about the existence of disorders in their family and ruling out possibilities of other mental illnesses. A psychological questionnaire that helps detect this disorder is the Peters Delusion Inventory (PDI) which pays attention to identification and understanding of delusional thinking.

More than diagnosis, what is important is the extent to which patients are ready to believe that their problems exist and their readiness to seek professional help. The early symptoms of this disorder which psychologists take note of are:

  • deep rooted feelings of being maneuvered
  • being too consummated with feelings of loyalty or dependability of friends
  • inability to gauge the gravity of threats
  • harping on animosity for a prolonged period
  • immediate reaction to insignificant issues
  • logically constructed delusions with marked consistency
  • increased sense of self-reverence

Road to recovery

The need to be able to establish a strong patient-doctor relationship is the foundation of a comprehensive treatment and complete recovery from the disorder. Though further researches are needed in this direction, doctors usually prescribe antipsychotics to suppress symptoms and refer to hospitalization in extreme cases.

If you or your loved one is suffering from any phobia or mental illness, contact the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline to know about one of the best mental health facilities in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 to understand mental health illnesses and get information about mental health centers across America.

Read the other articles of the series “Mental disorders similar to schizophrenia”:

  1. Mental disorders similar to schizophrenia – 1: Schizotypal Personality Disorder
  2. Mental disorders similar to schizophrenia – 2: Schizoid Personality Disorder