How To Overcome Persecutory Delusions

By Sarah Fader

Updated December 17, 2018

Reviewer Cessel Boyd


Persecutory delusions are defined as "a set of delusional conditions in which the affected person believes they are being persecuted." This delusional usually manifests itself when someone thinks misfortune is either happening and going to happen or when they believe a "persecutor" is out to get them. As the name implies, this state of mind starkly contrasts with reality and usually breeds undesirable consequences. Therefore, many people aspire to overcome persecutory delusions which are a great first step. However, before persecutory delusions can be conquered, they must first be understood.

A Full Analysis Of Persecutory Delusions

Also referred to as paranoid delusions, persecutory delusions are one of the most inaccurate, yet common types of delusions, according to Psych Central. Ultimately, the afflicted individual believes that he or she is against the world and everyone else is out to harm them in one form or another. This form of delusion is often found in persons who have schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), other medications, or even common drugs sold on the streets. Persecutory delusions tend to breed anger, frustration, resentment, and even physical violence. Individuals who suffer from this plight are likely to request that the legal system take action against what they believe is out to harm them.

Further reports from Psychology Today affirm that approximately 0.2% of people will experience persecutory delusions at some time in their lives. Both men and women are correspondingly susceptible to this delusion, although it usually occurs in later years as opposed to earlier ones. More often than not, individuals who suffer from persecutory delusions struggle to break free, even when other people state that not everyone is out to get them.

What Causes Persecutory Delusions?

Due to the rarity of this ailment, investigating persecutory delusions is somewhat challenging. A concrete cause behind persecutory delusions has not been discovered yet, however, it is believed to be a coping method that may be developed over time as a result of high-stress levels or suffering. An individual's heredity can also impact susceptibility to persecutory delusions. For instance, someone who has relatives that suffer from schizotypal personality disorder or schizophrenia may be more likely to experience persecutory delusions.

An Extension Of Paranoia

The clinical diagnosis of persecutory delusions is an offshoot of paranoia. People who suffer from paranoia believe that the world is out to get them in one form or other. Psychology Today affirms that roughly 25% of people suffer from clinical paranoia, although almost every living person has experienced fleeting, paranoid notions at one point or another. However, excessive, clinical paranoia is highly problematic on many counts and must first be recognized before being treated or overcome.

Paranoia is the root of persecutory delusions and many other mental health and emotional ailments. Individuals who are afflicted with paranoia have reported experiences of feeling anxious, depressed, frightened, or even suicidal. One of the most tragic elements of paranoia remains the fact that it is not grounded in reality or occurrences in the real world. Baseless paranoid thoughts exist in the head of the suffering person, yet, convincing them of us is an essentially insurmountable task.

Treatments For Persecutory Delusions And Paranoia


When a loved one is plighted with persecutory delusions or other forms of paranoia, one's first instinct may be to get the person medicated with the hope that the medication alleviates their ailment. While medication can be the viable and appropriate solution, it should be implemented strategically.

First and foremost, at no time whatsoever should someone who is not a licensed, trained doctor attempt to medicate someone who suffers from the ailments above. The consequences of such a risky endeavor can be devastating beyond imagination. Secondly, before seeing a doctor, there needs to be general or overall awareness of various medications and how they can impact individuals who suffer from persecutory delusions.

The Risks Of Antipsychotic Drug Treatment

Unfortunately, there have been some unfortunate cases of persons who suffer from paranoia or persecutory delusions being misdiagnosed or prescribed the wrong medication. Sometimes, severe cases of paranoia are detected as schizophrenia, while the individual afflicted with delusions is given antipsychotic drugs. These drugs are not always helpful for every person.

In some cases, antipsychotics do more harm than good. As documented by the WebMD, these drugs can engender surges in weight and cholesterol levels. Moreover, antipsychotic drugs can also cause dry mouths, blurred eyesight, extreme drowsiness, and muscle tremors or spasms. Not every person who takes antipsychotic drugs will experience those above, unwanted side effects, but they are certainly a factor to remain mindful of when seeking treatment.

Common Treatments For (Persecutory) Delusions

The process of rehabilitating individuals who suffer from persecutory delusions is no effortless feat. More often than not, these people are in denial about the accuracy of their delusions. They may resist those who suggest that they seek help or treatment and begin to see them as the enemy. People who suffer from this form of paranoia are not at fault, seeing as it is a clinical illness. However, treatment is imperative for suffering individuals to overcome this burden and see the world through a healthy and realistic perspective.

Psychotherapy and psychopharmacology are often used to medicate various forms of delusion. This form of treatment hones in on the exact requirements of the individual and works to help them regain healthy social skills and better their lifestyle. Psychotherapy and psychopharmacology are very gradual forms of treatment; they require time and trust between the patient and therapist. Sometimes rehabilitation can be difficult, seeing as the individual may not fully or at all trust the professional who is there to help them. If someone suffering from persecutory delusions is believed to be a danger to themselves or others, they may require admission to a hospital.


Antipsychotic drugs, psychotherapy, and psychopharmacology are not the only potential forms of treatment for individuals suffering from various forms of delusions. Sometimes, cognitive therapy is an effective form of aid for particular patients. Cognitive therapy uses questions and behavioral experiments to assess persons suffering from various delusions. After a trustful relationship is established, the therapist then begins to work with their patient and help him or her combat their delusions and adopt more realistic, critical thinking habits.

Psychology Today also affirms that gentle, supportive treatment options are better than more abrasive ones. After all, individuals plighted with persecutory delusions are considerably more likely to view criticism as attacks. A patient who feels as though their therapist is attacking them is much less likely to be receptive to treatment. The rehabilitative process for persecutory delusions takes time, effort, and pragmaticism.

The Power Of Positive Thinking

If you (or someone you know) have suffered (or is suffering) from persecutory delusions, it can be very difficult and strenuous. The best form of overall therapy entails seeking one of the forms above of professional treatment. However, as one undergoes the process of therapy, they might find that gradually adopting positive thoughts and beliefs may help them as they work to overcome persecutory delusions.

Positive thinking combined with professional help is an excellent way to see the world through a realistic and healthy lense. All thoughts, delusional or otherwise, appear in mind. Our thoughts are more powerful than we know and greatly contribute to how we see the world around us.

Spending time with loved ones can also be helpful to someone who is overcoming delusions. Family members and friends can be a world-class support system and help eradicate the overall fear that accompanies delusions, persecutory or otherwise. Every one of us needs help sometimes, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking both professional assistance and support from those who love us.


A Final Word

Persecutory delusions are very serious ailments which should be taken seriously and professionally treated. Telling someone to simply "get over it" is not helpful and will make their plight even worse. Many delusions are caused by trauma or underlying causes which need to be addressed by licensed specialists.

If you are suffering from persecutory delusions, please know that you are not at fault. Sometimes, blaming ourselves can be so tempting, but you should not do this. You are stronger than any delusion or obstacle, and you will overcome this. Please do not be afraid to seek out professional assistance or guidance. Psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, and cognitive therapy are some excellent forms of treatment to help you feel better about yourself and the world around you. The rehabilitation process might take time and patience, but in the end, it will all be worth it!

No matter who you are or what you may be going through, if you ever feel the need to talk or seek guidance or assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to BetterHelp. Our team of caring, licensed professionals are here to help you as your journey through life. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but if you ever feel inspired to contact BetterHelp for any reason whatsoever, you can do so by clicking here.

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