d. Delusion of reference;
This type of delusion manifests when a person has a strong belief that people around him are always discussing about him. Most cases read meaning to people’s statements or conversations around them. They eardrop to peoples’ conversations and often accuse people of gossiping about them.
e. Delusions of guilt;
Here, the person believes he has committed certain unforgivable sins or crime and goes about confessing those sins even though those sins/crimes were not committed by him. In some cases the person may confess of witch craft and some of this has led to stoning of elderly people in some villages. This delusion of guilt is commonly seen in people with severe depression.
f. Nihilistic delusions;
This is a false belief that part of one does not exist or part of his body does not exist or has stopped functioning. This type of delusion could be seen in depressed patients. It could also be termed as cotard’s syndrome. In this disorder, the patient believes he is dead or putrefying or part of his body e.g. his gastrointestinal tract is blocked, or blood is no longer flowing in his or her blood vessels.
g. Delusions of control;
In this delusion, the person falsely believes that his thoughts, feelings or actions are not his own but are controlled by someone else or by some external forces.
h. Erotomanic delusion;
In this type of delusion, the person believes that someone of a higher social status and often, a very famous person is in love with him/her. The person can go to any length to enforce it.
i. Hypochondriacal delusion:
Here, the patient believes he is sick despite test results showing incontrovertible proof to the contrary. He goes about doing a lot of lab investigations, going from one hospital to another and one physician to another to prove he is sick.
j. Delusions concerning possession of thoughts;
These are abnormal thought processes in which an individual does not have control over what goes through his mind. Examples include;
– Thought withdrawal;
In this case, the individual feels certain forces remove thoughts from his/her mind.
– Thought broadcast;
The individual believes that what he is thinking is known to other people. He believes his thoughts are being made known to people through various means. E.g. radio, telepathy.
– Though insertion;
The person believes that certain thoughts are inserted or forced into his mind and he has no power to control this.
4. Disturbances of the thinking process;
In mental disorder, thought processes are usually affected. The nature of the disturbance depends on the type of mental disorder the individual is suffering from.
a. Thought block; in this disturbance the individual notices that there is sudden repeated interruptions in his / her thought process in which case, he will experience a sudden disruption in his stream of thought. The individual explains this as “I cannot remember what I wanted to say.”
b. loosening of association;
In this situation, one’s thought process is not logical. He moves from one topic to another without any logical connection and may be termed to be talking irrationally. In some cases, there might be tangentiality in which the individual deviates entirely from the topic in question.
This is a disturbance of thought process in which the individual creates new words and uses it to pass information across to the listener.
In patients with anxiety problems, the individual might complain of crawling sensations in the head or all over the body, racing heart beat, breathlessness or shortness of breath, feelings of impending danger or death. Some people might also experience depersonalization (feeling unreal) or derealization (feeling the environment is unreal)
6. Motor symptoms;
Certain postures could be indicative of mental health disorders for example;
7. Disturbances of memory;
Usually, in mental health disorders, memory is always affected. In most cases, concentration and attention is usually impaired which leads to short term memory loss in which the individual forgets recent events.
In disorders like dementia, long term memory and short term memory are also lost.
There are other symptoms that are easily noticeable in certain mental disorders like mania e.g.
– Flight of ideas; here the person has so many ideas running through his mind at the same time. This is noticeable from the way he talks. He is usually very talkative, jumps from one topic to another, hyperactive, restless, full of energy and there can also be verbal or physical aggression. These individuals tend to spend recklessly and engage in risky behaviours.
Some patients may appear unkempt with poor environmental and personal hygiene associated with aimless wandering, talking to self, laughing alone.
In cases of depression, there might be feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, suicidal ideation or suicide attempts, poor appetite, low energy level with distortion in sleeping pattern and low libido.
It is pertinent to note that these symptoms are indicative of disturbances in an individual’s mental health. Hence, need to always seek the help of mental health specialists for proper evaluation and treatment rather than falling victim in the hands of non-professionals and quacks.
Dr. Uchendu Ifedilichukwu Uzoeghe