While there will be many occasions in life when people feel slightly paranoid, there are some people whose lives are blighted by paranoia. Paranoia is where you think and feel that you are at risk or under threat, even if there is not much evidence to suggest that you are.
Paranoia is usually classed as a symptom of a mental health issue as opposed to being a diagnosis in itself. There is a wide range of paranoid thoughts, raving from extremely mild paranoia to extremely severe paranoia. Each person may experience paranoia differently and the level of paranoia a person feels may depend on:
- How much the person believes their paranoid thoughts
- How often a person thinks about their paranoid thoughts
- How upset a person gets regarding their paranoid thoughts
- How these paranoid thoughts impact on a person’s life
What causes paranoia?
Even after considerable research, there has been no definition of what causes paranoia. It is likely that a combination of factors aggregates together, leaving a person experiencing paranoia. Some of the most common causes of paranoia include:
- A person feeling isolated or removed from others
- A traumatic experience in the past
- If a person has strong beliefs and is quick to reach conclusions, they may be more likely to suffer from paranoia
- If a person is anxious, worries a lot or has low self-esteem, they may be more likely to suffer from paranoia
Symptoms of paranoia?
There are many signs of paranoia and anyone who has an intense and irrational suspicion or mistrust could be paranoid. Paranoid feelings often lead to people being fearful, to being angry and lashing out and can often make people feel as though they have been betrayed.
Someone who is suffering from paranoia is likely to be hypervigilant in their activities, they will likely have a lack of trust in others, they will be defensive when dealing with criticism and they will be preoccupied with people having hidden motives.
A person who is paranoid will often find themselves unable to relax and will be argumentative.
All of these symptoms are likely to feed into a person’s mental and physical health and can cause problems in the working environment and in a relationship. As stated above, with many specialists believing paranoia is a symptom of a larger mental health issue, there may be many issues for a person to contend with.
How to treat paranoia?
Paranoia is commonly treated with cognitive behavioural therapy and medication. It is essential to develop and build trust with the person suffering from paranoia and to build a working relationship with them.
This will help to improve the person’s social skills while minimising the impact of their irrational thoughts. Given the symptoms of paranoia, it can be difficult to offer treatment, and progress is often a slow process. However, it is important to realise that a full recovery from paranoia can be obtained and many sufferers do regain the feeling of control in their life.