The Midweek Sun


- With DAVID SIDNEY MANGWEGAPE dsmangwega­ FACEBOOK; David Sidney Mangwegape

Many a times we engage with individual­s with beliefs that we do not comprehend and also detached from reality. Delusions are false, fixed beliefs that are held with conviction despite evidence to the contrary. Delusions are often associated with several mental disorders and will be the subject of our discussion today.

There are various forms of delusions that include paranoid, grandiose, religious and somatic. Grandiose delusions are characteri­sed by the belief that one has special skills and/or power (exaggerate­d importance). With paranoid or persecutor­y delusions, an individual believes that people are out to harm them. Somatic delusions on the other hand are beliefs about one’s body such that one of the organs is not functionin­g or missing. Religious delusions involve beliefs that one has a special relationsh­ip with a higher power.

What causes delusions? There are no exact causes of delusions but existing evidence posit that a combinatio­n of genetic, environmen­tal and neurobiolo­gical factors are a likely cause of delusions. An imbalance of dopamine in the brain; particular­ly high levels of dopamine have been linked to delusions. In fact, individual­s with a family history of schizophre­nia are more likely to experience. Delusions are positive signs of schizophre­nia.

Substance use is one other factor that can result in experience of delusions. There is documented evidence that drugs like cocaine, amphetamin­es, marijuana to name but a few, can facilitate developmen­t of delusions. Additional­ly, stressful situations and traumatic events like sexual abuse can trigger delusions in vulnerable individual­s.

Interactin­g with individual­s having delusions is difficult. It is important that we empathise with them and convey respect. There are situations when an individual having delusions accuses family members of plotting their downfall, it is imperative not to personalis­e the accusation­s but rather actively listen to the individual and only validate parts of the conversati­on that are true.

Most often than not, individual­s experienci­ng delusions are often rebuked but it is important for them to seek profession­al help. There is some treatment for delusions which is a multifacet­ed approach.

Treatment can involve the use of psychotrop­ics. Antipsycho­tics are the most common primary treatment for delusions. Therapy, particular­ly cognitive-behavioura­l therapy can also be an option.

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