Paraphrenia is a type of mental disorder characterized by paranoid delusions. The affected individual experiences imaginary fears or anxieties that are often exaggerated, but do not undergo significant loss of intellectual capabilities, such as memory and daily routine habits.
Although paraphrenia presents symptoms similar to schizophrenia, it often occurs only in the elderly, above the age of 60 and is also quite a rare condition. Schizophrenia, on the other hand, is often reported in teenagers, young adults, as well as middle-aged people. Also Read: Schizophrenia: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Paraphrenia is, in the majority of the cases, not a very severe ailment. Nevertheless, it is absolutely essential to seek immediate medical care, as soon as typical indications of paraphrenia are recognized in any older person, to ensure timely treatment and efficient management of brain-related irregularities.
The main factors contributing to the development of paraphrenia in aged persons include:
Severe Neurological Illnesses
When the brain undergoes significant physical modifications, due to a tumour, stroke, grave injury, nerve or blood vessel damage, other neurodegenerative conditions, it affects its normal functioning and response to external stimuli. These abnormal instances could give rise to paraphrenia.
Stressful Personal Situations
Older adults who do not engage in regular social contact, are extremely disconnected from normal events going on around them, have no family or friends and struggle to sustain themselves suffer from serious emotional trauma to the brain. These challenging circumstances, in some cases, lead to paraphrenia. Also Read: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
The distinguishing signs of paraphrenia comprise the following:
- Paranoid delusions, that something is very wrong with the current scenario, although things are otherwise normal
- Hallucinations, involving perceiving objects or situations that neither currently exist, nor ever took place in the past
- Hearing unreal sounds, noises, voices and conversations
- The illusion of strong fragrances or unpleasant smells, when there is no odour
- Feeling unusual, often irritating sensations on the body, even though no object or person is initiating such instances
The doctor specializing in mental health, consisting of psychologists and psychiatrists, initially records the physical fitness of the person. He or she also enquires about their routine tasks and tests their recollective capacity, to rule out the possibility of a more severe disease associated with the mind.
Once it is concluded that the elderly individual can carry on with their daily life and perform all chores normally without anyone’s help, but only experiences temporary bouts of paranoia and hallucinations, then a diagnosis of paraphrenia is confirmed.
In most situations, the affected patient also possesses a clear sense of space and time, with a proper notion of living in the present.
In the majority of cases, paraphrenia is temporary and can be fully treated, thereby assuring the afflicted patient of a complete recovery.
The primary mode of remedying this nervous system ailment is by means of prescription antipsychotic drugs. These medications, when taken at the right doses as recommended by the physician, help to keep nerve impulses under control and avert the triggering of paranoid delusions.
When the instance of paraphrenia is quite severe, behavioural counselling is also given by the psychologist, to understand what environments, people or objects prompt the extreme hallucinations. In this manner, other such similar factors are carefully avoided henceforth, thus aiding in the effective treatment and optimal recovery of the mental functioning of the patient.