Delusions and Schizophrenia
The most well-known symptoms of schizophrenia are delusions and hallucinations. Since they are dramatic and easily sensationalized, they are the behaviors most often highlighted by popular media when schizophrenia is depicted. And indeed, hallucinations and delusions are very important and common symptoms of this illness. Nonetheless, these symptoms are not necessary for a schizophrenia diagnosis; in fact, no single symptom is required.
A significant number of people with schizophrenia have other symptoms as well, such as thought disorder, affective disturbances, or behavior disturbances, but have no delusions or hallucinations. Delusions and hallucinations can also occur in brain disorders other than schizophrenia, so their presence does not always automatically indicate schizophrenia.
An individual who suffers from delusions is susceptible to forming and holding on to ideas or beliefs that are not true, even when others tell them or show them those beliefs are not true. These delusional beliefs can quickly become obsessions and may cause irrational or even sometimes violent behavior under some circumstances.
Put simply, delusions are false ideas that typically cannot be corrected by reason. In the majority of cases, they are induced by some kind of sensory experience that the individual misinterprets. In some instances, it can be as simple as a couple of seconds of static on the radio or an image on a television screen that the person interprets as a signal explicitly meant for them. It is often a mystery to loved ones why a person with delusional ideas has them.
Different Types of Delusions
A person may experience recurring themes in their delusions over time, making the delusions seem more credible to the individual experiencing them. Occasionally, hallucinations can be classified as secondary delusions if they are accompanied by false beliefs about a voice one hears or another sensation one is experiencing. Other common types of delusion include:
When a person believes that a person, group, or organization has mistreated or harmed them despite no supporting evidence or evidence that contradicts their claim.
Delusions in which a person believes their body is afflicted by an illness or unusual condition despite no or contradictory evidence.
When someone believes that they have superior qualities or abilities (e.g., talent, fame, wealth) but there is no evidence to support that belief.
Erotomania delusions are characterized by the belief that another person has fallen in love with you, despite the lack of any evidence. These people are usually celebrities or influential people.
Other common areas affected by delusional symptoms include:
Mood or atmosphere
An uncanny sense that the world around you is strange or threatening. People who suffer from this type of delusion often feel stressed and confused because they cannot identify what has changed in their environment, but they are convinced there is something wrong.
When an individual is experiencing a false memory or misremembering something that happened in the past.
In a delusion of this type, people are hyperaware of specific experiences. They don’t necessarily hear, see, or feel anything out of the ordinary happening in the world around them. Instead, they experience an intensely vivid idea or feeling that something is wrong.
In this type of delusion, the focus is on the individual affected rather than the belief itself or the rest of the world. Often, what the person believes or fears is based on reality, but they place an unusual or unhealthy amount of importance on it. The intense focus of this nature can transcend what is rational and evoke urgent and overwhelming feelings.
Getting Treatment and How to Help
It is devastating to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, but recovery is possible. You have a better chance of getting and staying well with schizophrenia if you seek treatment early with an experienced mental health professional. Seek professional attention as soon as possible if you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing schizophrenia symptoms.
A combination of factors determines the success of schizophrenia treatment. Medication alone does not guarantee success. As a patient, you should become informed about your condition, communicate honestly with your doctors and therapists, build a strong support system, and take steps to help yourself. In spite of the fact that self-help strategies such as modifying your diet, relieving stress, and seeking social support may not appear to be highly effective in managing such a challenging neurological disorder as schizophrenia, they can have a profound effect on the severity and frequency of symptoms, as well as your self-esteem. And the greater the level of self-help you are able to undertake, the better you will feel, and the more likely it will be that your psychiatrist or doctor can reduce the dosages of your medication.