Paranoia – signs, symptoms and treatment

Of course, everyone is suspicious of people and places from time to time. In modern life, fears that someone might hurt you are quite normal and natural.

But when you perceive yourself as threatened to the point that it interferes with your daily life, it is most likely paranoia. Keep in mind that paranoia itself may be a symptom behind which a mental illness is hidden.

What is paranoia?

Paranoia is an irrational feeling of intense fear that people are trying to harm you, causing you to be unnecessarily suspicious and distrustful of others.

Key features of paranoid thoughts include fear that something bad will happen, and having exaggerated and unfounded beliefs.

Degrees of paranoia

Many people suffer from paranoia, but only to a certain degree. And this is closely related to an inner feeling of anxiety and can cause a feeling of stress and threat, but these thoughts do not interfere of their ability to cope with their daily duties and lead a normal life.

When the condition is more severe, paranoid thoughts can interfere with a person’s daily life and throw them off balance.

The list below starts with a higher level of paranoia and moves down to less severe forms and conditions.

– In the most severe level of paranoia, the sufferer may think that someone is reading or even controlling their thoughts.

– Moderate paranoia may include thoughts that someone is reading your mail or tracking your calls to use the information against you.

– With less paranoia, the fears are more “soft”, such as that the person walking in front of you is dragging his feet just to annoy you.

Paranoia comes with characteristic suspicious thoughts. You’re all too likely to worry about things like what your friends are saying about you behind your back.

A general feeling of vulnerability is observed. This type of paranoia is most often expressed by people as a fear of something too general like being kidnapped. It is possible for a person to experience a paranoid fear of abduction just because they have heard that someone in the same town has been abducted.

Types of paranoia

While paranoid thoughts themselves are not recognized as a mental health condition or disorder, stronger and uncontrollable ones may be associated with the following conditions:

Paranoid Personality Disorder: People with paranoid personality disorder suffer from irrational paranoia, extreme distrust and suspicion of others.

Although people with this disorder can have different specifics, most of them are able to function well in society. The disorder usually begins in early adulthood.

Delirious (paranoid) disorder: This disorder is characterized by the dominance of a delusion without any other signs of mental illness. For example, the person may believe they have cancer even though he or she has already been tested and reassured by several doctors.

Paranoid schizophrenia: Characterized by delusions and auditory hallucinations that include false beliefs of persecution or a conspiracy against the sufferer. People with paranoid schizophrenia may exhibit anger, withdrawal, and anxiety. This is the most serious form of paranoia.

Other mental health problems that can include paranoid feelings are bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, severe anxiety or depression, and postpartum psychosis.

Signs and Symptoms of Paranoia

Symptoms of paranoia and paranoid disorders may include the following:

Intense and irrational mistrust or doubt that can lead to anger or hatred
– Stupid and maladaptive behavior
– Distrust
– Easily offended
– Difficulty forgiving
– Defensive behavior in response to perceived criticism
– Concern with ulterior motives
– Fear of being deceived or taken advantage of
– Inability to laid-back
– Stubborn
– Feeling that they are always right
– Perfectionism

Causes of paranoia

Although the cause of paranoia is a problem in the way of reasoning and the meaning attached to events, it is not clear what the cause of this problem is. Listed below are some theories and suggestions as to why paranoia occurs:

– Genes: Some studies show a genetic link and some don’t.

– Brain Chemistry: Some drugs like cocaine and marijuana change brain chemistry and this can lead to paranoid thoughts, feelings and behavior. After all, according to many researchers, a biochemical imbalance in the brain may be at the root of paranoid thoughts and feelings.

Traumatic events in childhood or in later stages can disrupt the way a person thinks and feels well into adulthood.

Stress: Some studies have found that paranoia is more common in people who have experienced severe and long-lasting stress, such as if the person was a prisoner of war or had another highly traumatic experience .

A combination of factors: One theory is that a combination of genetic and environmental factors can cause paranoia.

– In addition, paranoia can be a symptom of physical illnesses, such as Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia. Hearing loss can also cause paranoid thoughts for some people.

Treatment for paranoia

While there is no drug for paranoia yet available in pharmacies, the following types of therapy can help a person keep their paranoia under control:

Medication: Although a person with paranoia may be afraid of medication, sedatives or antipsychotic drugs can help relieve some of the symptoms.

Therapy: Although a person with paranoia may be afraid to confide in and talk to a therapist, if they do and begin to cooperate with a professional, therapy can help them to cope with the symptoms and lead to an improvement in his ability to function fully as a person.

Acquiring coping skills: Relaxation, anxiety reduction techniques, and behavior modification can help a person function socially.

Hospitalization: In some patients, the sufferer may need to be hospitalized, but this is only true when really serious cases of paranoia occur.

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