Paranoia – Fact File

Paranoia is the irrational and constant feeling that people are out to get you in some way or another. There are various types of paranoia, we will discuss the three main types here today.

Types of Paranoia Disorder:

Paranoid Personality Disorder
This is considered to be the mildest form of paranoia. Most people with this disorder are still able to function well despite their mistrust. The attitudes and behaviours associated with this disorder, once spotted they are often discovered to have been present for the majority of the person’s life.

Delusional (Paranoid) Disorder
This is characterised by the dominance of one singular delusion (false belief) with no signs of mental illness. The behaviours shown within this disorder will vary for each individual depending on what delusion they have. For example, stalking can be a behaviour that comes from delusional disorder… maybe the individual believes that they are in a relationship with a celebrity that they have never met and start to stalk them across social media and in person if and when possible.

Paranoid Schizophrenia
This is considered to be the most severe type of paranoia. It is characterised by strange delusions such as believing their thoughts are being broadcasted on the radio. They are also likely to experience hallucinations, especially bizarre ones. Individuals with this form of paranoia often find the world to be confusing and function poorly without receiving treatment.

Causes:

There is no definitive cause for paranoia, there are many theories and different people with have different opinions based on their own individual experiences.

There are, however, some general risk factors that are believed to increase the likelihood of paranoia developing.

  • Having confusing or unsettling experiences or feelings that you can not easily explain.
  • The way that you feel – if you get anxious or worry a lot or if you have low self-esteem and expect others around you to reject you or criticise you.
  • The way that you think – If you jump to conclusions quickly and believe things very strongly, not changing your mind very easily.
  • Being Isolated.
  • Experiencing trauma earlier in life (abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, death of a loved one etc)
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Genetics – If a member of your immediate family has some form of paranoia, you may be more at risk of developing it for yourself.

Symptoms:

  • Being easily offended
  • Finding it hard to trust those around them
  • Cannot cope with any form of criticism
  • Being very defensive
  • Hostile, aggressive and argumentative
  • Find it difficult to forgive and forget
  • Believe people are talking about them behind their backs
  • Being overly suspicious
  • Not being able to confide in anyone
  • See the world as being a constant threat
  • Finding maintaining relationships difficult

Treatments and Self-Help:

There are a few things that you can do in order to help yourself when experiencing paranoia. For example, keeping a daily diary of your thoughts and feelings can help to pinpoint any specific triggers. It can also help others to understand you better.
Try to find someone who you trust and speak to them about your thoughts and feelings, confide in them. General self-care is also important, taking time out just for yourself, having a bubble bath, watching your favourite movies, going for a walk outside in the fresh air and much more.

Speak to your GP to receive professional help, remember that you can take someone with you to your appointments, you do not have to do it alone. Your GP can help to point you in the right direction, the most common forms of treatment for paranoia include talking therapies and counselling. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is one of the most common therapies offered; helping to change the individual’s negative thought processes to more positive ones and identifying any triggers or underlying causes that might be there.  There are also family therapies available to support the individual as well as helping their family to cope with the situation, giving them advice on how to help the individual when professionals are not around.
Art therapies are also known to be useful for the individual, helping them to express themselves in a creative way without judgement.

In paranoid schizophrenia and delusional disorder, medication is often offered. Antipsychotic drugs are the most common for these disorders, helping with the symptoms of hallucinations and delusions. In some cases, the individual may be offered antidepressants or mild tranquillizers.

Sources:

Mind Charity – Paranoia

BetterHealth – Types of Paranoia

NHS – Paranoia

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