By Dr. Judith Foster
Delusional disorder is a condition that is associated with more than one delusions of bizarre or non-bizarre thinking. Bizarre delusions are those that are not understandable, clearly implausible and do not count as real-life experiences while the non-bizarre solutions are the beliefs that happen in real life such as being stalked, poisoned, loved, or other things that could possibly happen.
This disorder is also known as paranoid disorder, which is a serious mental illness called psychosis. People who have delusional disorder can function and socialize normally. Apart from the subject that they experience delusions, they do not actually behave in a bizarre way. Though delusions can be associated as a symptoms of common disorders like schizophrenia, delusional disorder is rare but does happen in adolescents.
Adolescent delusional disorder is a condition wherein teens experience an extreme misconception that they cannot seem to escape. Delusions in teens are sometime very strong that they can act themselves according to the delusion, which can lead to risky behaviors. Strong delusions on teens may include seeing people who are not physically present, hearing voices or even smelling things that are not there.
Types of Delusional Disorders in Adolescents
Delusional disorders have subtypes that are based on the theme of the delusions experienced by adolescents. These types include:
- Grandiose Delusions – Grandiose delusions are characterized by teens who believe that they have superior skill or ability, such as extraordinary strength or intelligence. Adolescents who have this disorder tend to have an over-inflated idea of power, knowledge, identity or worth.
- Erotomanic Delusions – This type of delusional disorder is characterized by teens who believe that there is a celebrity that has special interest in them. They might have an attempt of contacting that celebrity or famous person and begin a stalking behavior.
- Persecutory Delusions – This delusional disorder is characterized by adolescents who have beliefs that someone important to them are being mistreated, are in a harmful situation, or someone spying them and going to harm them soon. Adolescents with this type of delusion tend to make repeated reports to authorities.
- Somatic Delusions – Somatic delusions are characterized by being delusional that they are suffering from a certain ailment or physical disease that cannot be proven by medicine.
- Jealous Delusions – An adolescent has a jealous delusion when he/she strongly believes that his/her partner is cheating on him/her. This delusion leads to intense level of jealousy, which also leads to extreme behaviors.
- Mixed Delusions – Teens who have mixed delusions are experiencing symptoms of one, two or more of the types of delusional disorders mentioned above.
There are prescription medications that can really be helpful to adolescents such as anti-psychotic drugs. This can help them both in the treatment of their delusions and in alleviating the harmful effects and stress caused by delusions like anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Residential Adolescent Treatment
The most effective treatment for delusional disorders in adolescents is a combination of medication and talk therapy. Treatments vary depending on the delusions experienced by the teen – ranging from a residential treatment program to outpatient individual therapy sessions. Therapists work with them to help recognize and understand their delusions.