A delusion is a false personal belief that is not subject to reason or contradictory evidence and is not explained by a person's usual cultural and religious concepts (so that, for example, it is not an article of faith). A delusion may be firmly maintained in the face of incontrovertible evidence that it is false. Delusions are common in psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Delusions can also be a feature of brain damage or disorders. Delusions can be accompanied by other psychiatric symptoms or by physical symptoms when these occur related to a medical condition. Delusional disorder is a specific psychiatric condition that was formerly known as paranoid disorder. Examples of delusions include the sufferer believing that one has an unusual power or talent, believing that someone else (possibly a prominent figure or famous person) is in love with them, believing that one is being persecuted, or believing that one has a nonexistent medical problem.
Other causes of delusions
- Brain Trauma
- Delusional Disorder
- Drug-Induced Psychosis
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms & Early Diagnosis
Memory loss and confusion can be signs of normal aging, but also warning signs of Alzheimer's disease. The early stages of...
Alzheimers Disease Quiz: Stages, Symptoms & Signs
Take the Alzheimer's Quiz to discover some of the mysteries behind this cognitive disorder. Learn causes, symptoms, treatments,...
Schizophrenia Quiz: What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a complex psychiatric disorder. Learn more about the challenges of mental illness with the Schizophrenia Quiz.
What's Schizophrenia? Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatment
What is the definition of schizophrenia? What is paranoid schizophrenia? Read about schizophrenia types and learn about...
Causes of Delusions
Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
Alcoholism is a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking despite repeated alcohol-related problems, such as losing a job or getting into trouble with the law. It can cause myriad health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver, birth defects, heart disease, stroke, psychological problems, and dementia. Counseling and a few medications can be effective for alcoholism treatment.
Alzheimer's disease is a common cause of dementia. Symptoms and warning signs of Alzheimer's disease include memory loss, difficulty performing familiar tasks, disorientation to time and place, misplacing things, and more. The biggest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease is increased age. Treatment for Alzheimer's is often targeted toward decreasing the symptoms and progression of the disease.
Bipolar Disorder in Children, Teens, and Adults
Bipolar disorder (or manic depression) is a mental illness characterized by depression, mania, and severe mood swings. Treatment may incorporate mood-stabilizer medications, antidepressants, and psychotherapy.
Dementia is defined as a significant loss of intellectual abilities such as memory capacity, severe enough to interfere with social or occupational functioning. There are several different types of dementia, including cortical, subcortical, progressive, primary, and secondary dementias. Other conditions and medication reactions can also cause dementia. Dementia is diagnosed based on a certain set of criteria. Treatment for dementia is generally focused on the symptoms of the disease.
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. The principal types of depression are major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (also called manic-depressive disease).
Drug Abuse and Addiction
Drug abuse and addiction is a chronic disease that causes drug-seeking behavior and drug use despite negative consequences to the user and those around him. Though the initial decision to use drugs is voluntary, changes in the brain caused by repeated drug abuse can affect a person's self-control and ability to make the right decisions and increase the urge to take drugs. Drug abuse and addiction are preventable.
Flakka (also known as "bath salts" or several other slang names) is a dangerous synthetic or "designer" drug. Users take it to experience euphoria, but it can often lead to dangerous delusions, paranoia, and bizarre behaviors. Dehydration, hyperthermia, and a dangerous condition that affects the kidneys called rhabdomyolysis can occur as a result of using Flakka.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection left untreated causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a type of virus called a retrovirus, which can infect humans when it comes in contact with tissues that line the vagina, anal area, mouth, or eyes, or through a break in the skin. HIV infection is generally a slowly progressive disease in which the virus is present throughout the body at all stages of the disease. Three stages of HIV infection have been described. The initial stage of infection (primary infection), which occurs within weeks of acquiring the virus, often is characterized by the flu- or mono-like illness that generally resolves within weeks. The stage of chronic asymptomatic infection (meaning a long duration of infection without symptoms) lasts an average of eight to 10 years without treatment. The stage of symptomatic infection, in which the body's immune (or defense) system has been suppressed and complications have developed, is called the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The symptoms are caused by the complications of AIDS, which include one or more unusual infections or cancers, severe loss of weight, and intellectual deterioration (called dementia). When HIV grows (that is, by reproducing itself), it acquires the ability to change (mutate) its own structure. These mutations enable the virus to become resistant to previously effective drug therapy. The goals of drug therapy are to prevent damage to the immune system by the HIV virus and to halt or delay the progress of the infection to symptomatic disease. Therapy for HIV includes combinations of drugs that decrease the growth of the virus to such an extent that the treatment prevents or markedly delays the development of viral resistance to the drugs. The best combination of drugs for HIV are those that effectively suppress viral replication in the blood and also are well tolerated and simple to take so that people can take the medications consistently without missing doses.
Parkinson's disease is a slowly progressive neurological disease characterized by a fixed inexpressive face, a tremor at rest, slowing of voluntary movements, a gait with short accelerating steps, peculiar posture and muscle weakness, caused by degeneration of an area of the brain called the basal ganglia, and by low production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Most patients are over 50, but at least 10 percent are under 40.
Postpartum depression is a form of depression that occurs within a year after delivery. It is thought that rapid hormone changes after childbirth may lead to depression. Symptoms of postpartum depression include crying a lot, headaches, chest pains, eating too little or too much, sleeping too little or too much, withdrawal from friends and family, and feeling irritable, sad, hopeless, worthless, guilty, and overwhelmed. Treatment typically involves talk therapy and medication.
Psychotic disorders are a group of serious illnesses that affect the mind. Different types of psychotic disorders include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder, brief psychotic disorder, shared psychotic disorder, delusional disorder, substance-induced psychotic disorder, paraphrenia, and psychotic disorders due to medical conditions.
Schizoaffective disorder is a mental illness that features schizophrenia and a mood disorder, either major depression or bipolar disorder. Symptoms include agitation, suicidal thoughts, little need for sleep, delusions, hallucinations, and poor motivation. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, medication, skills training, or hospitalization.
Schizophrenia is a disabling brain disorder that may cause hallucinations and delusions and affect a person's ability to communicate and pay attention. Symptoms of psychosis appear in men in their late teens and early 20s and in women in their mid-20s to early 30s. With treatment involving the use of antipsychotic medications and psychosocial treatment, schizophrenia patients can lead rewarding and meaningful lives.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances that are related to testosterone and promote skeletal muscle growth and the development of male sexual characteristics in both men and women. In the 1930s, it was discovered that anabolic steroids could promote skeletal muscle growth in lab animals, which lead to anabolic steroid abuse by bodybuilders and weight lifters.
A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding (hemorrhagic). Symptoms of a stroke may include weakness, numbness, double vision or vision loss, confusion, vertigo, difficulty speaking, or understanding speech. A physical exam, imaging tests, neurological exam, and blood tests may be used to diagnose a stroke. Treatment may include administration of clot-busting drugs, supportive care, and in some instances, neurosurgery. The risk of stroke can be reduced by controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and stopping smoking.
What Are the Early Warning Signs of Psychosis?
Early psychosis can go undetected in many individuals. Learn the signs of early psychosis, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat it.
What Is Schizotypal Personality Disorder?
Schizotypal personality disorder is characterized by odd behaviors, feelings, perceptions, and ways of relating to others that interfere with one's ability to function. Medication and psychotherapy can help the sufferer to manage their symptoms.
Examples of Medications for Delusions
- aripiprazole (Abilify)
- chlorpromazine - oral, Thorazine
- chlorpromazine-injection, Thorazine
- clozapine (Clozaril, Fazacio ODT, Versacloz)
- fluphenazine (Permitil, Prolixin)
- fluphenazine concentrate - oral, Prolixin
- fluphenazine liquid - oral, Prolixin
- olanzapine (Zyprexa, Zydis)
- quetiapine (Seroquel)
- risperidone, Risperdal; Risperdal Consta, Risperdal M-TAB
- thiothixene - oral, Navane
- ziprasidone (Geodon)