It is important to note that you don’t always have to feel paranoid. If you are concerned that this may be you, let’s look inside paranoia and what may be causing it. Below we will ask some questions and consider some practical tips on how to stop being paranoid.
Have you ever been told that you act like everyone is out to get you? Or that you don’t trust anyone, so it’s hard to get close to you?
For example, you’ve been on a few dates with someone, and they seem like a charming person to everyone else. However, you start to wonder if the person is only going out with you because they feel sorry for you. You wonder if they’re only with you because they’re desperate.
Do they want your money? Are they after something else of yours? Maybe you’re just a rebound, and they’re trying to make an ex angry or jealous.
You close yourself off to the person, even though they have given you no reason to think the things you suspect of them. The person starts to lose interest because you don’t talk on dates anymore, or you look at them in a way that makes them uncomfortable because you’re trying to figure out their next move.
Do you find that you often judge people before you give them a chance to prove that they are good people? Do you close yourself off so that you can’t be used or hurt? Are you often angry, and do you find it hard to forgive? Do you hold a grudge easily?
For example, a group of people from work asks you if you’d like to go out Friday night after work. You go, but while you’re there, you become convinced that everyone there only invited you because they want to get information out of you, get you to say or do something they can use against you so that they can get you reprimanded or fired at work and destroy your career.
None of the people there have given you a reason to feel this way, but you can’t stop being paranoid, so you start looking for signs that aren’t there of sabotage. Someone accidentally spills some of their drink on you, and you decide that person did it on purpose, and you’ll never forgive them for it. You now openly hate that person and will stop at nothing to destroy them.
Do you harbor paranoid thoughts that you are being cheated on by your significant other, even when your partner has given you no reason to think this and tells you that the suspicion is completely unfounded?
Say you come home from work, and dinner is nearly ready. The house is nice and tidy, and your wife is in a great mood. You begin to have paranoid feelings that none of this was done to make you happy or to satisfy you. It must be that your wife is seeing someone on the side and is only putting on a show so that she can dupe you into thinking she cares about you while she has an illustrious affair behind your back.
You may even know that this is bad for your mental health, but you can’t stop being paranoid. The obsessive thoughts take over, and you start to display aggressive behavior towards your wife to let her know that she can’t trick you so easily.
Do you think that when people offer you criticism, it’s because they hate you and want you to fail or feel bad about yourself? Do you have low self-esteem because you’re certain that no one likes you?
Not everyone wants to see you fail, and you know that. But you can’t stop feeling paranoid about the things people say to you. When you have an evaluation at work, and your supervisor holds a staff meeting later to tell everyone what needs improvement, you become convinced that the supervisor is only talking to you.
He is trying to shame you and let everyone at the company know that it’s you he’s talking about. No one at work likes you anyway. This is probably very funny to them. Being paranoid means that you are always on defense because someone is always trying to take you down.
Do you find yourself caught up in conspiracy theories and wonder why anyone would trust the words or actions of another person?
You don’t trust the government or any part of the health care system because they’re all trying to keep you down, and you’re the only one smart enough to see it. Doctors want you to be sick. The government wants you to be poor. They’re all part of an unspoken secret society that is out to get you, and probably everyone else, but you’re the only one smart enough to see it. This might seem paranoid to other people, but you’ve just got your eyes open.
If you answered yes to one or some of these questions, then this article is for you. If you know someone who fits the bill according to the symptoms I have just explained, then this article may also be for you. You or someone you know may have paranoia.
What is Paranoia?
Paranoia is often classified by an unrealistic and unfounded tendency to suspect people and situations that have given you no reason to be suspicious. Delusions of various types often accompany paranoia.
There isn’t just one type of paranoia. There are several. And while they may be similar to each other, it’s important to try to pinpoint which type is affecting you to get the best treatment possible. A mental health professional can help you to do that.
Below we’ll go over some of the types of paranoia and their symptoms and offer some tips on how to stop being paranoid so that you can live a more happy, healthy, and productive life. Please remember that mental health issues are always best discussed, diagnosed, and treated by a qualified mental health professional.
Paranoid Personality Disorder
Paranoid Personality Disorder, also known as PPD, is a type of personality disorder that falls into the category of eccentric personality disorder. The primary symptoms of this disorder are that they are highly suspicious of everyone and think that everyone is a threat to them, even when there is no reason to feel this way.
People with PPD display paranoid behavior by being aggressive and controlling around their significant others. They may be convinced that their spouse is having an affair, even when there’s no evidence to support this thought, so they become controlling, possessive, and jealous.
Symptoms of paranoia of this type are numerous. Everyday interactions are rife with paranoia because people with this disorder are convinced that everyone is against them. They can’t accept criticism, they are plagued with paranoid thought after paranoid thought, and they often feel worse when someone tries to get close to them because they are sure that the person is only trying to get close so that they can use them or hurt them in some way.
PPD is a chronic illness, so it isn’t something that can ever go away. It is also challenging for people with PPD to get the treatment they need for this mental illness because they have difficulty trusting a psychiatrist or counselor. Getting them to see a professional or expert in mental health services is nearly impossible because people with PPD are convinced they don’t have a problem. Everyone else is the problem.
People with PPD are affected by it in differing degrees. Some can hold jobs, have successful relationships, make friends and maintain friendships, and live a life where no one would know they are suffering from paranoid feelings and thoughts.
Other people with PPD have a much harder time coping with the disorder. They cannot go out in society for even a few hours because they are so convinced that everyone is out to get them. They have an intense feeling that everyone in their lives is trying to orchestrate their downfall, and they repel people who may otherwise have been interested in romantic relationships because they are so controlling and suspicious of cheating and other unfavorable behaviors.
Psychotherapy is often the best treatment for PPD. A person is taught ways cope with their irrational thoughts and feelings. They are also given tools and a few tricks to help them boost their self-esteem and learn to trust other people, even if it’s just a family member, spouse, or small circle of friends. They will never stop obsessing over what other people are trying to sabotage them, but they can learn to cope with the intrusive thoughts and feelings of PPD.
Actual clinical paranoia is rare. These people often also have anxiety disorders, and clinical paranoia can either be a byproduct of the anxiety disorder or its cause. It is tough to distinguish which causes are for each individual.
Even with proof, people with this mental illness cannot be convinced that people are not out to get them. They are extremists who are constantly waiting for someone to come out of the woodwork and try to destroy them. If you’re the professional attempting to help them, you are also a suspect. They don’t need help; you’re just trying to convince them that they’re crazy.
For example, you might hear a group of coworkers talking and laughing in the break room at lunchtime. You enter the room a few minutes after everyone else, so the conversation your coworkers are having began several minutes before you entered. Paranoid thoughts start up immediately. You become convinced immediately that they were talking about you. And it was negative.
You’re confident that they’re spreading vicious rumors, or worse, trying to work together to devise a plan to get you fired. When your coworkers ask you if you’d like to join them, you respond with a rude or aggressive response of, “No. I’ll stay by myself. It’s harder to talk about me if I’m right there at the table with you, right?”
These paranoid thoughts are brought on because a person with clinical paranoia sees danger and betrayal everywhere. It’s challenging and sometimes genuinely impossible to treat a person with clinical paranoia because they are confident that they are right in their paranoid feelings. If you’re trying to help, then you’re too ignorant to see what’s going on, or you’re in the plot to sabotage them, as well.
Even when given informed professional advice, there is no way to make people with clinical paranoia see reason. These people often suffer from severe delusions but will claim that they aren’t delusional, but they’re very self-aware. There is a common saying and belief among paranoid people that goes, “Paranoia is just a heightened state of awareness.” If you can’t see life the way that a paranoid person sees life, then you’re the one they feel sorry for because they’re convinced that you can’t see the truth right in front of you. Paranoid people sometimes feel as though they are more intelligent and observant than people who are not in a paranoid state.
Even the act of suggesting that a person seek help with these psychiatric disorders can turn them against you and put a target on your back for their aggression. The person may understand that they have paranoid thoughts, but they see it as an act of self-preservation rather than just irrational, paranoid thoughts. You can’t convince the person that you genuinely care about their well-being and happiness. You often end up getting pushed away by the person you’re trying to help as more paranoia creeps in surrounding your wanting to help them.
Paranoid schizophrenia is a severe psychiatric disorder that is part of a delusional disorder. It is a rare disorder that often goes misdiagnosed or completely untreated because people never seek help. It’s not uncommon for people with this disorder to attempt to self-medicate via alcohol or substance abuse. They want to make the paranoid thoughts go away, but to them, the things they see and hear that others can’t are genuine, and they have a hard time distinguishing what is real from what is a hallucination.
Characteristics of Schizophrenia are hallucinations and delusions. Schizophrenic people may hear voices or noises that aren’t there and can’t be heard by anyone else. They may smell things that no one else smells. They see things that no one else sees. These delusions can often produce negative thoughts and cause more anxiety than the person started with.
Schizophrenia, although serious, can be treated with the help of professionals. Coping skills and more productive outlets to use to vent their anxieties and reduce stress are all ways that schizophrenic people are treated. Psychotherapy and medication are also used often in treatment.
This type of paranoia occurs when a schizophrenic person suffers from delusions and hallucinations, coupled with severe paranoia. So instead of just hearing beeps coming from within the walls of your house and thinking that it’s odd that no one else can hear it. You hear those same beeps and become convinced that the government has planted recording and tracking devices because they’re after you and want to control your mind.
It can get to the point that the paranoid fears turn the person into a hermit who doesn’t go anywhere or interact with anyone because they see and hear things that no one else does. Those things are conspiratorial and threatening in nature. The people just walking down the street aren’t just strangers going about their day. They’re government employees who are following you. You may resort to blacking out your windows, removing all electronics, hunting and growing your own food so that you don’t have to buy food at a grocery store, and removing fillings in your teeth to keep the government from controlling your thoughts through them.
In a case like this, symptoms of paranoia are often seen by what their more even-keeled friends might call outlandish behavior. A person may choose to live off the grid with no cell phone or landline because they think people listen to their phone calls. They may choose not to have running water because there are mind control chemicals in the water or the electric company is sending subliminal messages through the outlets that only you can hear.
What to Do if You Are Experiencing Paranoia
If you find that you feel paranoid a lot of the time, and you realize that you spend time obsessed with what underhanded motives people may have rather than enjoying the company of a partner or close friend, you may have some form of paranoia. Getting diagnosed is an essential step in healing and getting treatment. You may not be able to make your paranoid thoughts go away, but you can learn to manage them.
The good news is that if you can recognize it yourself, it can be treated. While you’ll never be able to banish every anxious thought that pops into your head, you will learn that you can have paranoia without letting thoughts consume you. You can come to realize that paranoid people can go on to lead productive and happy lives.
If you suspect that you might have an issue with paranoia, it never hurts to do your research. Read into what it is, what it entails, and what the symptoms are. Hopefully, this article can be of some help. Next, talk to a family member or your best friend and explain to them that you have nagging thoughts about the same negative thing over and over and that rational and concrete examples of why you shouldn’t worry about them don’t do anything to stop those thoughts.
Use resources available to you such as psychiatry, counseling, behavioral therapy, and support groups so that you can focus on getting to a healthier mental space and living a happier life. An affordable and convenient option to find a suitable therapist is Online-Therapy where you can speak with a therapist from the comfort of your own home.