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Course and Prevalence of Delusional Disorder

People with Delusional Disorder often do not realize or acknowledge that they are ill and that their beliefs are delusional, and for this reason they are unlikely to present for treatment in mental health services [ref]. Instead, they are more likely to be found consulting police or lawyers regarding complaints of persecution or trespass, or visiting general medical specialists regarding delusional medical concerns.

For these reasons, it has been hard to get a sense of the true prevalence of this disorder in the general population. It is estimated that this is condition is rare, perhaps affecting as few as 3 in every 10,000 people in the general population [ref], though some experts suggest that the condition is more common than this [ref]. Delusional Disorder seems to account for up to 4% of all hospital-treated cases of psychosis [ref]. The vast majority of cases of Delusional Disorder are of the Persecutory Type (35%) and the Somatic Type (35%) [ref].

This disorder seems to occur somewhat more commonly in women, in a ratio of about 4 women for every 3 men [ref, ref]. It tends to not to start before early adulthood, and thereafter it can occur at any age [ref], though most commonly in middle-age [ref].

There is some evidence that individuals with Delusional Disorder are more likely to be married than are people with Schizophrenia, but to come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, to have low levels of education, and to be immigrants [ref].

Clinical experience would support the idea that this disorder can persist for long periods of time - measured in years - especially in those individuals who do not receive treatment. About a quarter of these individuals also suffer from Major Depression [ref].

 

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