What is Paranoia?
- Paranoid personality disorder. This is a mild condition of paranoia, and those with this disorder typically have normal lives despite their fears and distrust.
- Delusional disorder. This disorder is categorized by people who have one main delusion, or false belief, and have no other mental illnesses. There are seven different types of delusional disorders, each manifesting with different types of delusions. For example, someone with a somatic delusion may believe they have a serious illness despite the reassurance of doctors.
- Paranoid schizophrenia. This disorder is considered to be the most severe type of paranoia. Sufferers experience bizarre delusions and hallucinations and often can’t function properly without treatment.
Causes of Paranoia
- Negative life experiences. Events where you feel attacked, isolated, or vulnerable can lead you to become wary of the world around you. Being robbed or bullied can be stressful and can cause paranoid thoughts to develop.
- Childhood neglect or abuse. Feeling unsafe from a young age can cause you to feel deeply distrustful of others and lead to paranoia.
- Mental illnesses. Paranoia is more likely to be experienced by those who suffer from anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem. Paranoid thoughts can also be symptom of other mental health issues.
- Physical illnesses. Paranoia can be a side effect of certain ailments including Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.
Signs and Symptoms
- Doubt and distrust of others.
- Believing that people have hidden motives or plans to harm them.
- Refusing to tell anyone personal information, fearing that it will be used against them.
- May be sarcastic, hostile, argumentative, or stubborn.
- Finds it difficult to forgive others and often holds grudges.
- Takes criticism to heart and is overly sensitive.
- Finds “hidden meanings” in normal conversations or situations.
- Has distant relationships with others, or may isolate themselves.
- Has trouble relaxing.
How Can Paranoia Be Treated?
Psychiatric medications such as antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and antipsychotics have all been proven to help people with paranoid personality disorder, or those who experience paranoia along with another mental illness. While medication is helpful, mental health professionals recommend combining medication with talk therapy in order to successfully reduce or eradicate feelings of paranoia.
A therapist can help someone experiencing paranoia by teaching them healthy ways to cope with their thoughts and feelings, handle social situations with others, and identify possible triggers for their paranoid thoughts. Although there is no cure for paranoid personality disorder, symptoms can be well-managed and reduced with the right treatment. To meet with a qualified therapist, feel free to reach out to us at Couples Clinic.