Many mentally healthy people may have an occasional instance of paranoid thinking. But, what kind of thought is paranoid? What kinds of things can someone be paranoid about? Is paranoia, without any other symptoms, a mental health disorder all on its own? Paranoia magnifies fears, and anyone the paranoid person encounters becomes another object of his or her suspicion. The person struggling with paranoia feels surrounded by a world of threats. When paranoia persists, the condition might be Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD).
If you or a loved one is struggling with Paranoia, call Pathways Real Life Recovery or contact us here online to schedule a free evaluation today!
What is Paranoia?
Paranoia is distorted thinking that you are under some form of threat even though there are no actual indicators or insufficient indicators to support such thoughts. The paranoid person may believe someone or some group has been demeaning or is planning to physically harm him/her. Paranoid thinking can be extreme and groundless suspicion or even persecutory delusion. For example, an acquaintance may have made a rude comment to you recently, and you now feel sure the person is plotting to turn your entire community against you.
What Types of Things Can Someone Be Paranoid About?
Most paranoid thinking is about being threatened by others or causing harm to oneself. However, paranoid thoughts can be about harm to someone else or even to one’s whole society. Each person who struggles with clinical paranoia (persecutory delusions) has his or her own unique experience of paranoid thinking.
Some examples of common paranoia symptoms are thoughts such as believing that:
- People are trying to damage your image at work, at home, or in your social group.
- People are using subtle actions or saying things with double meanings) to threaten you.
- People are, or a person is, watching you (online or in person).
- When you enter a room, the people in it have been talking about you.
- People are excluding you.
- Others are subtly trying to make you feel bad.
- People are intentionally trying to aggravate or upset you.
- Someone is planning to physically harm you or kill you.
- People are trying to take your money or possessions
- The government is targeting you or controlling you.
- Someone is interfering with your thoughts or actions.
How Can You Tell if a Thought is Paranoid or Justified?
Everyone has good enough reasons to be suspicious now and then. If you have sufficient evidence for it, suspicion may be justified. For example, it makes sense to fear that you might be attacked while walking through an area known for frequent violent crime. Other kinds and degrees of suspicion are paranoid. Although the paranoia definition is clear, identifying paranoid thinking can be confusing, especially since people can interpret evidence in different ways.
Ways to help identify paranoid thoughts:
- You can’t identify any actual evidence that supports the validity of the thought.
- The perception you have is a feeling based on others’ unclear actions.
- No other people appear to share the perception.
- Logically, it seems very unlikely that this person or group would target you.
- The troubling thought persists even after others have reassured you.
- You can identify evidence that the concerning thought is unwarranted.
Example of a likely paranoid thought: You enter the cafeteria at work. You feel anxiety and suspicion that everyone in the room has been conspiring to make you look bad to your employer and get you fired, even though some work in different departments than yours and don’t know you.
Is Paranoia a Mental Disorder?
Many people may have an isolated or occasional paranoid thought. But, clinical paranoia is much more extreme. Severe paranoia requires treatment. Paranoia may also be a symptom of one of these serious mental health disorders:
- Paranoid Personality Disorder: (PPD) A pattern of extreme and baseless suspicions of other people, fearing that they are strategizing to demean, physically threaten, or harm them.
- Delusional Disorder (persecutory delusion): A type of psychosis as part of which the victim has a primary delusion involving being mistreated or harmed by other people.
- Paranoid Schizophrenia: A form of schizophrenia, as part of which the victim experiences extreme paranoia.
Paranoid thoughts can be anything from very mild to very severe, depending on:
- How strongly you believe your paranoid thoughts.
- How often you have paranoid thoughts.
- How upsetting your paranoid thoughts are for you.
- Whether paranoid thinking is disrupting your daily life.
Pathways Treatment for PPD in Utah
Living with a mental health disorder is a cause in and of itself for feeling fearful. Our caring mental health treatment professionals understand what it takes to provide a therapeutic environment that helps people struggling with PPD to feel comfortable and develop a greater sense of confidence and trust and achieve lasting healing.