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Mental Health and Delusional Disorder

How Is Delusional Disorder Treated? continued...

Through therapy, a person with delusional disorder can learn to control their symptoms, identify early warning signs of relapse, and develop a relapse prevention plan. Psychosocial therapies include the following:

  • Individual psychotherapy: Can help the person recognize and correct the underlying thinking that has become distorted.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): Can help the person learn to recognize and change thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings.
  • Family therapy: Can help families deal more effectively with a loved one who has delusional disorder, enabling them to contribute to a better outcome for the person.

The primary drugs used to treat delusional disorder are called antipsychotics and include:

  • Conventional antipsychotics: Also called neuroleptics, these medicines have been used to treat mental disorders since the mid-1950s. They work by blocking dopamine receptors in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter believed to be involved in the development of delusions. Conventional antipsychotics include Thorazine, Prolixin, Haldol, Orap, Navane, Stelazine, Trilafon, and Mellaril.
  • Atypical antipsychotics: These newer medicines work by blocking dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain. Serotonin is another neurotransmitter believed to be involved in delusional disorder. These drugs include Risperdal, Clozaril, Seroquel, Geodon, and Zyprexa.
  • Other medications: Tranquilizers and antidepressants might also be used to treat delusional disorder. Tranquilizers might be used if you have a very high level of anxiety and/or problems sleeping. Antidepressants might be used to treat depression, which sometimes can occur in people with delusional disorder.

People with severe symptoms or who are at risk of hurting themselves or others might need to be hospitalized until the condition is stabilized.

 

What Complications Are Associated With Delusional Disorder?

People with delusional disorder might become depressed, often as the result of difficulties associated with the delusions. Acting on the delusions also can lead to violence or legal problems. For example, a person with an erotomanic delusion who stalks or harasses the object of his or her delusion could be arrested. Further, people with delusional disorder can eventually become alienated from others, especially if their delusions interfere with or damage their relationships.

What Is the Outlook for People With Delusional Disorder?

The outlook for people with delusional disorder varies depending on the person, the type of delusional disorder, and the person's life circumstances, including the availability of support and a willingness to stick with treatment. Oftentimes, people with delusional disorder do not recognize the false or inaccurate nature of their perceptions and may not realize or agree with the need for psychiatric treatment.

Delusional disorder is typically a chronic (ongoing) condition, but when properly treated, many people with this disorder can find relief from their symptoms. Some people recover completely and others experience episodes of delusional beliefs with periods of remission.

Unfortunately, many people with this disorder do not seek help. It often is difficult for people with a mental disorder to recognize that they are not well. They also might be too embarrassed or afraid to seek treatment. Without treatment, delusional disorder can be a life-long illness.

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