Understanding Paranoia: Warning Signs, Causes & Treatment

While the phrase ‘being paranoid’ is often thrown around in casual conversation, there tends to be minimal discussion about what paranoia actually is, and the effect it can have on the lives of those who experience it. In this article we will take a look at the signs of paranoia, what causes it, and how paranoia is treated for improved mental health and quality of life.


What is Paranoia?

Paranoia is characterized by thoughts and feelings that an individual is being threatened in some way despite a lack of sufficient evidence. Paranoia can lead to delusions, which are fixed beliefs that are held, even when there is counter-evidence presented.

While the experience of paranoia, and its severity, varies among each individual, it is generally characterized by intense mistrust and suspicion of others. A person’s irrational beliefs often lead to feelings of fear and/or anger, hypervigilance, and a sense of feeling misunderstood, particularly if others do not take their claims seriously.

Common examples of paranoid thoughts may include:

  • Feeling convinced that you are being talked about behind your back
  • Certain people or organizations are targeting you or ‘out to get you’
  • Others are trying to steal from you or otherwise harm you
  • Your actions and thoughts are being interfered with by outside sources

What Causes Paranoia?

Some individuals have mild paranoia from time to time, particularly in times of stress. Others experience paranoia more frequently, and it is more severe, causing significant distress and interfering with daily activities. This may indicate the presence of a mental health condition, as paranoia can be a symptom of paranoid schizophrenia, delusional disorder, or certain personality disorders. It is also possible for paranoia to occur as a result of a medical condition (such as dementia) or due to the use of substances.

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For more articles and information about paranoia, visit https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/paranoia/

Managing Paranoia

If experiencing paranoia is affecting the quality of your life, and your ability to carry out daily activities and engage in your relationships, it is important to seek professional support. Discussing your concerns with your doctor or a mental health professional can help you to determine what may be causing the paranoia, and receive an appropriate diagnosis if there is a mental disorder present. Based on your diagnosis, treatment for paranoia might look like psychotherapy and/or medication. 

Many individuals who are experiencing paranoia may not believe that they need help, as they are unwavering that their thoughts and feelings are real. Due to their mistrust of others, they may feel hesitant to open up to a mental health professional or question their motives. While it can be difficult to encourage someone experiencing paranoia to seek treatment, it has been proven to be very effective when people do follow through and receive the support they need. A trusting relationship with a therapist can make all the difference, as they can begin to help an individual to start challenging irrational thoughts, and learning how to cope with feelings of anxiety or distress.

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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