Having suspicions and worries regarding loved ones is normal up to a point. When these fears are exaggerated and unfounded on any real basis, however, these notions are termed paranoia.
Symptoms of paranoia
Paranoia is typically characterized by three main features. These include:
- Exaggerated fear that something bad will happen
- You fear that the evil that is about to happen is caused by others
- Lack of foundation for the two superior functionalities
People with paranoia may feel threatened by one or more person, by objects or even by an abstract idea. A person with paranoia may feel threatened in the following ways:
- You fear that someone is trying to cause them physical harm or even kill them
- Fear that someone is trying to cause physical or emotional damage by, for example, spreading tells about them
- You fear that someone is trying to steal from them or trick them into losing their currency
Symptoms of paranoid thoughts or paranoia
- Effort and anxiety
- Sensitivity of isolation
- Fatigue (due to constant worry)
Types of paranoia
The severity of symptoms, which range from mild to severe distress, determines what type of paranoia a person has. Certain types of paranoia are common in the population such as worrying about a terrorist attack in your vicinity after hearing there has been an attack recently. While this type of paranoia can be distressing, it doesn’t usually stop someone from living their life normally.
More severe paranoia such as thinking someone is tracking your phone calls or trying to exercise mind control can be extremely distressing and leave a person feeling terrified, isolated and exhausted with worry.
Paranoia and other mental health states
Paranoia is commonly associated with other mental health states. Examples include:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Manic Disorder: This describes when a person is preoccupied with manic ideas about being hurt. For example, they may be convinced that someone is following them or trying to poison them.
- Paranoid Personality Disorder: This is a form of personality disorder that typically develops during the teenage years and progresses into adulthood. A person with paranoid personality disorder finds it difficult to trust others.
- Paranoid Schizophrenia: This is a type of schizophrenia characterized by extremely paranoid thoughts as well as oral and visual hallucinations.
Causes of paranoia
The cause of paranoia is unclear but is likely to be determined by the important personal records causing a sudden increase in effort. Psychiatric conditions and mood disorders such as anxiety, depression and phobias can also trigger paranoia.
Diagnosis and treatment
The first point that must be contained in order to treat paranoia is the person recognizing the fact that they are paranoid and being prepared to seek guidance. Sometimes paranoia is diagnosed as a component of other mental health states. The treatment aims at lessening the distress caused by paranoia and improving the patient’s overall well-being so they can feel more grounded in reality.
The lifestyle changes that are recommended include regular exercise, sleeping well, and taking steps to decrease stress. Avoidance of certain drugs and alcohol can also help reduce paranoia as these can trigger paranoia.
A form of cognitive behavior therapy called psychotherapy may also be prescribed. This therapy helps people to examine and address any thought patterns or attitudes that may alter their behavior. Other types of conversation therapies may include family or groups of people with similar problems. The medications that are prescribed generally target all associated mental health conditions rather than the paranoia itself.