What Might Be Causing New Onset Of Delusions?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

The past few months I have started to have mild delusions. The first that I can recall is the most frightening experience I can recall. I raced from one paranoid thought to another, lost control of my movement frozen in place but jerking my head around rapidly and hearing myself making a sound between a scream and a groan, and this felt like it would never end.

That was the most extreme though. Since then I have had one case that I was certain a shirt and empty plastic bag was a brick of marijuana that someone had made me hold on to and panicked that I would be found out by family or authorities. I can’t be sure if some other episodes have been a delusion or real. I have also had other occasions where it feels like part of my body is slipping and I can’t control it.

I have also been experiencing a new level of paranoia. Sometimes this lasts for a few minutes and sometimes for a few hours. I will be in complete despair or fright about family or an attacker. (possibly made worse when a man followed me noticeably in his truck as I walked unprotected for 20-30 min before I got help recently)

For some background…I was suicidal as a young teenager, but haven’t been in years.
A few years ago I displayed some disordered eating, but do not believe this lasted long enough to signify an eating disorder.

I have recently wondered if I am bipolar also because I seem to experience a roller coaster of despair and not wanting to talk to anyone or thinking I have no one to turn to, to suddenly feeling fine or even a rush of euphoria that I believe interfered with my school work.

Sometimes I feel like I just need to get drunk, but I rarely drink. I also may be struggling to cope without the aid of a drug, but I don’t believe I was truly addicted so I am unsure about this.

I had a brain tumor removed at age 6 somewhere around my spatial center, but have not had problems since, however it has recently been suggested that I may have some lingering side effects that have to do with my sense of direction.

I don’t even know where to start, what direction to look in, or how to communicate to a doctor.

A. The best place to begin is to make an appointment with your primary care physician (PCP). It is important to rule out a medical explanation, especially because you have a history of a brain tumor. As you mentioned, some of your symptoms may be attributable to the lingering effects of the brain tumor.

When you visit the PCP, provide a detailed report of your medical and psychiatric history. Also report your current set of symptoms. The more detailed you are about that information, the easier it will be for the doctor to assist you. You were very detailed in your letter. It might help to bring the letter to the appointment. Prior to the appointment, prepare a list of your symptoms and the questions that you have. Having a list ensures that you won’t forget important details.

Your PCP may suggest that you undergo a variety of medical tests. He or she may also refer you to a psychiatrist, a neurologist and a psychotherapist for additional tests or evaluations.

You alluded to the fact that you are either currently using drugs or you have a history of using drugs. I am not sure if you were referring to prescription drugs or to illegal drugs. Illicit drug use can exacerbate and in some cases lead to the development of psychiatric symptoms. It is important that your doctor is aware of all past or present drug use. You may not want to reveal that type of information to your doctor but missing facts can result in an inaccurate diagnosis and subsequently, an inappropriate plan for treatment.

It is important that you are evaluated as soon as possible. Start with your PCP. I hope this answer helps you to know how to proceed. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Aug 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). What Might Be Causing New Onset Of Delusions?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/08/21/what-might-be-causing-new-onset-of-delusions/