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Causes of Delusional Disorder

The causes of Delusional Disorder remain unclear. Although genetic factors are suspected, studies on this question have been inconsistent, and at this point it remains difficult to know to what extent genetic factors may be involved [ref]. The only finding that seems to be somewhat consistent is that people with Delusional Disorder do not have higher than normal rates of Schizophrenia or Mood Disorders in their families, which suggests that any genetic factors leading to Delusional Disorder are probably unique to this condition [ref].

Studies on the treatment of Delusional Disorder have shown that a large percentage of these individuals respond the same antipsychotic medications that are used to treat Schizophrenia and other Psychotic Disorders [ref]. This suggests that in Delusional Disorder there are neurotransmitter imbalances that are similar to other Psychotic Disorders, given that these imbalances are what these medications are supposed to be correcting.

From a psychological point of view, it has been proposed that Delusional Disorder, at least of the Persecutory Type, is rooted in a tendency for these individuals to focus more than others on potential threats, to have trouble deciding how likely a given threat may be, and also to have trouble admitting that they may be responsible for some of their difficulties in life, preferring instead to believe that all ill-fortune comes from others [ref]. This way of seeing oneself and the world may be a reflection of deep underlying insecurities, which is in keeping with the finding that these individuals often tend to come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, to have low levels of education, and to be immigrants [ref].


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Course & Prevalence