Do Sex/Gender and Menopause Influence the Psychopathology and Comorbidity Observed in Delusional Disorders?

J Clin Med. 2022 Aug 4;11(15):4550. doi: 10.3390/jcm11154550.


Background: While sex differences and gonadal hormone levels are taken seriously in the understanding and treatment of schizophrenia, their influence in the psychopathology of delusional disorders (DD) remains unknown. Methods: Our strategy was to conduct a narrative review of the effects of (a) sex/gender difference and (b) menopause on delusional content, affective and anxiety-related comorbidity, substance use disorders, cognition, aggressivity, and suicide risk in DD. Results: Because the literature is scarce, our results are tentative. We found that erotomania was more prevalent in women than in men, and especially in women with premenopausal onset. In contrast, jealous and somatic delusions were more commonly seen in DD women with postmenopausal onset. With respect to depressive comorbidity, women with premenopausal onset appear more vulnerable to depression than those with later onset. Age at menopause is reported to correlate positively with intensity of suicidal ideation. Anxiety symptoms may be related to estrogen levels. Men present with higher rates of substance use disorders, particularly alcohol use. Conclusions: Many male/female differences in DD may be attributable to sociocultural factors but menopause, and, therefore, levels of female hormones, influence symptom expression in women and mediate the expression of psychiatric comorbidities. Further research in this area promises to lead to improved individualized treatment.

Keywords: delusional disorders; psychopathology; psychosis; sex; women.

Publication types

  • Review

Grant support

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.