Introduction to Paranoia
The feeling that something suspicious or irrational is going to occur is experienced by everyone. When this is exaggerated and affects people’s daily lives, they could have paranoia.
What is Paranoia?
The feeling that something suspicious or irrational is going to occur is experienced by everyone. When this is exaggerated and affects people’s daily lives, they could have paranoia. If you have paranoia, you may fear something bad will happen, have exaggerated or unfounded beliefs or think other people/external factors are responsible. Paranoia can make you feel as though you are at risk of harm either psychologically, physically or financially. Paranoia can have a significant impact on your day and so if you feel you constantly feel alarmed, terrified or isolated due to your thoughts your should see your GP or a psychiatrist. Paranoia is often a symptom of other mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, paranoid personality disorder, severe anxiety and postnatal psychosis.
What are the causes for Paranoia?
The cause of paranoia is unknown but is likely due to be a combination of life experiences, the external environment and genetics. Paranoia can also be a symptom of the following medical conditions or by the use of illicit drugs (cocaine, amphetamine, MDMA, LSD).
Schizophrenia: A long term mental health condition. The positive symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations and delusions.
Paranoid personality disorder: A mental health condition which is characterised by long standing periods of mistrust and suspicion of others
Psychosis: A mental health condition where people lose a sense of reality and perceive things differently to those around them
Postnatal psychosis: A mental health condition where the sudden onset of psychotic symptoms follows childbirth
What are the symptoms of Paranoia?
Symptoms include anxiety, confusion, anger, mistrust of individuals or organisations, feelings of victimisation, isolation and stress.
How is Paranoia treated?
Cognitive behavioural therapy is an effective treatment for paranoia. CBT tries to understand how people make sense of their thoughts and why it distresses them. This form of thinking is then replaced with more realistic, balanced thoughts. Medication is not prescribed to treat paranoia but can be given to relieve other symptoms such as depression, anxiety of depression.