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The Most Effective Treatments for Delusional Disorders

written by: Ryan Russell • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 10/30/2010

Delusional disorders are characterized by a patient's tendency to experience recurring delusions. These delusions can control and inhibit the lives of those affected. Common treatments for delusional disorders include psychotherapy and prescription medications.

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    Delusional disorders are psychotic disorders defined by the patient’s tendency to experience delusions. Delusional disorders can be deliberating to a person’s life and can cause the loss of a job, friends, family and more. Treatments for delusional disorders usually follow two approaches: psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy is a therapeutic cognitive approach to dealing with the delusions and psychosis of the patient. Medication can help quell the symptoms and lower the frequency of delusions.

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    Psychotherapy for Treatment

    Psychotherapy is usually the first treatment for delusional disorders. The success of psychotherapy is highly dependent on the strength of the relationship between the therapist and the patient. The therapist must be able to build considerable trust with the patient. This takes a certain level of skillfulness as patients suffering from a delusional disorder are often more reluctant to trust and interact with strangers openly. If the patient believes the therapist is judging him or her the therapy will typically be ineffective.

    A trained therapist usually does not question the delusions from the first session. Instead, the therapist seeks to focus on real issues negatively affecting the patient. When trust has been established the therapist can highlight the positives of the patient’s life, including personal accomplishments. Delusions are often heightened by insecurity and paranoia, so reassurance is an important step in beginning to turn the corner on the illness. When the patient starts to feel more secure in his or her own body the therapist can begin to work on the delusions directly.

    The therapist will begin to question the delusional ideas of the patient and attempt to gently rationalize them away. Usually the most insignificant of the delusions will be targeted first. Gradually, the therapist will question the biggest and most deep-seated delusions. If the therapist and patient have built up a strong level of trust over time, these delusions should start to unravel. It is possible that the therapeutic treatment of delusional disorders could span a year or more, depending on how reluctant the patient is in confronting his or her delusional thoughts.

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    Medication for Treatment

    One of the other most common treatments for delusional disorders is prescription medications. Anti-psychotic medications are typically given for treatment of delusions. These include Risperdal and Zyprexa. These medications work to block the action of dopamine receptors to reduce the occurrence of delusions and other psychosis. They can also help to relieve anxiety and paranoia in patients. Anti-psychotic medications vary significantly in potency, so a patient who doesn’t respond initially will be given several additional medications until the right fit is established.

    Prescribing anti-psychotic drugs to a patient with delusions can be particularly difficult. Many patients will be suspicious of the drugs and refuse to take them at first. Therapeutic techniques often have to be employed to get the patient to agree to take the necessary medications. Hospitalization is typically not recommended for patients suffering from delusions as the strange setting tends to increase their sense of unease and paranoia.

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    References

    1. http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx11t.htm

    2. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/292991-overview