LIBERTY PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION
- Shervan K Shahhian
Paranoia is a feeling that a person is living in fear or danger without any good reason, for example: thinking that people are watching you or are all against you, and there’s no evidence that it’s true. Paranoia happens to a lot of people at some point in their life, that one knows that their concerns aren’t founded in reality. Paranoia can become troubling if it happens too often.
Clinical paranoia is more extreme. It can be a rare mental disorder, a condition in which a person believes that others are unfair to them, lying to them, or they are actively trying to harm them, where there’s no evidence of it. The paranoid person don’t think they are paranoid, because they think their feelings are true.
Anxiety or Paranoid Thoughts:
Paranoid thoughts could be a type of anxious thought. At times anxiety can cause paranoia. Which is affecting what a persons life. At the same time paranoid thoughts can also make a person anxious.
Anxiousness could be normal at times, especially if a person is going through hard times in their personal and professional life. When the paranoid person is in a large groups of people, they may worry that others will hurt them, or they are after them, or they are judging them, etc. These paranoid thoughts may effect their actions, clothing, behavior. Eventually the paranoid person might decide to isolate.
Some people name this paranoia, but it could be founded on facts. Just because a person is suspicious about others or things doesn’t mean they have a mental illness. Clinical paranoia happens when a person is 100% convinced of it, even when the evidence shows other wise.
If one is worried that they are paranoid, the person could be experiencing anxiety rather than paranoia. If a person is anxious and it never seems to improves or go away for good, one may need to seek treatment or consultation with a professional. Panic and anxiety that lasts a long time or it gets in the way of ones daily life, could be symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Symptoms of paranoia may be more serious than anxiety.
The symptoms of paranoia:
- Being angry, hostile, defensive, and aggressive behavior.
- Being easily resentful or annoyed.
- The paranoid person believes that they are always right and they cannot relax or let it go.
- Not being able to agree, forgive, or accept blame when they are wrong.
- Not being able to trust or to share thoughts with others.
- Thinking others have a hidden agenda, when that is not true.
What Causes Paranoia:
Lack of sleep:
One bad and restless night won’t cause paranoid thoughts. But if a person goes without sleep, night after night things can start to go wrong. People suffering from insomnia might not think as clearly, and they are more likely to argue with others or fail to understand others correctly. The paranoid person might think that people are out to get them, when it’s not true. If a person goes without sleep for long time, they could start to feel, see, hear and smell things that are unrealistic, it can even seen as hallucinations by psychiatrist. Adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep a night to be able to stay mentally alert and mentally healthy.
When the stress level goes up in a persons life, they could start to feel more and more suspicious of others. The stressors do not have to be something major but they could still cause paranoid symptoms. Even a during happy times, like at parties, the stress can create major stress that could cause paranoid thoughts and decrease joy.
To help reduce tension:
- The person needs time off to relax and to take a break.
- Spending time with loved ones and close friends.
- Humor therapy can be helpful.
- Physical activity and exercise can help.
- Meditation can help.
Mental Health Disorders:
One of the mental health condition is paranoid personality disorder, which can make it hard to trust others. Paranoid personality disorder can cause negative thoughts about others that just aren’t true, For example “other people don’t like me,” “They’re putting me down,” or even “They want to hurt me.” In many cases, no evidence will convince the paranoid person, which can lead to clinical paranoia. Even if the person might not believe all their unrealistic thoughts, and only believes some of their thoughts.
Schizophrenia is another major mental disorder, that can make it very hard to tell what’s real and what’s unreal. Most of the time, a schizophrenic might simply don’t know when their thoughts have become paranoid thoughts. Relatives, Friends, loved ones, or medical professionals often have to try very hard to get them into treatment.
Borderline personality disorder, is where a person might have emotional swings that they can worship someone one day and hate them the next day, it can also cause paranoid thoughts and even clinical paranoia in some.
Just because a person feels paranoid or worried about what others think about them at times might not mean that they have a mental disorder. The fact that one knows their thoughts don’t make any sense could be a sign of a mentally healthy person. But when paranoid feelings keep happening all the time or they start to get in the way of their relationships and or work life, one needs to speak to a mental health professional or their medical doctor to get help or a referral.
Known Drugs like THC or marijuana, hallucinogens like LSD, psychotropic mushrooms, and uppers like cocaine, and methamphetamine have chemicals in them that make many people paranoid for short periods of time. Once these chemicals leave the persons system, the paranoia might go away. Long term alcohol and drug abuse can also cause paranoia. Long term substance abuse can cause life long paranoia and at times hallucinations.
If paranoid thoughts are making a person anxious or if they have minor symptoms of depression, drugs can make everything much worse. In some , drug abuse can trigger a psychiatric disorder with true clinical paranoia as a symptom.
Alcohol abuse can also worsen paranoia. It can make a person less inhibited, which makes it harder to control there actions, thoughts and feelings.
Loss of Memory:
There are different forms of dementia, one of them is Alzheimer’s disease which is more likely in older adults, which can change the brain in ways that can make a person more paranoid of others. One might see that a loved one with dementia starts all of a sudden hiding their valuables or becomes sure that people have bad intentions toward them. These symptoms could be part of the Alzheimer’s disease. Their medical doctor might be able to help them manage these Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Treatments for Paranoia:
If a person feels that they are losing touch with reality, contacting a medical doctor or psychotherapist could be a great place to start, only If the paranoid person can still tell that their thoughts are not reasonable.
A good diet, exercise and good sleep can do miracles. All of these things are part of a balanced life style that can help keep paranoid thoughts away.
After all , talking to a mental health professional about paranoid thoughts can really help. Talk therapy can work only while the paranoid person can still tell that their thoughts are not true. One needs to keep it real. A paranoid person might think of them self as crazy or abnormal, but sometimes the most unrealistic thoughts could be true?
Even if a person does not think they are mentally ill, but they are paranoid or suffer from irrational thoughts that gets in the way of living a normal life, they need to speak to a psychotherapist, counselor, medical doctor, psychologist or a psychiatrist. Therapy and certain psychiatric medications can help a person feel better.
Most of the time people who are feeling paranoid don’t receive treatment because they don’t realize their thoughts are not real. If a person is worried about a loved one, a friend or a family member, they should talk to a mental health professional, in any emergency they should call 9-1-1. They can also look into resources such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (www.nami.org, 800-950-NAMI) or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (www.samhsa.gov/find-treatment, 800-662-HELP)