5 Common Signs of Paranoia

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“You’re so paranoid.” “Don’t be so paranoid.” The term “paranoid” is often bandied about in a playful and even teasing manner, or can be used to slight someone who may be fearful or uncertain. Despite its common use, many people remain largely uninformed regarding the nature of paranoia, including what it stems from, how it is addressed, and how easy it is to overcome signs of paranoia or cluster of symptoms of physical or mental disorders. So what exactly is paranoia?

Paranoia: A Definition

Paranoia is not a condition in and of itself, but is instead a symptom common to countless maladies, both those falling under the umbrella of mental health disorders and those that fall under the umbrella of physical disorders—or, most commonly, degenerative disorders. Paranoia is a symptom that is most commonly associated with feeling as though others are out to get you, or that no one can be trusted. Paranoia can manifest in other ways, too, such as a fear of constantly being at the center of others’ attention, and consistently being discussed behind your back. Paranoia can present in varying degrees of severity, as well, with the most substantial sometimes requiring hospitalization.

5 Common Signs of Paranoia

The signs and symptoms of paranoia are fairly common across disorders and conditions, and usually include some variation on the following 5 signs:

  1. A persistent belief that others are out to get you. People demonstrating signs of paranoia may feel as though others are plotting against them or wish them harm, even when there is no evidence to suggest that is the case.
  2. A fear of or belief that people as a whole cannot be trusted. A general sense of paranoia can encourage the belief that people are not to be trusted and that you must constantly shield and protect yourself.
  3. The belief that others are regularly talking about or focusing on you. A less severe form of paranoia may involve the persistent belief that people are focusing on or talking about you—again, even when there is no evidence to suggest this is the case.
  4. Hypervigilance and emotional upset. People experiencing symptoms of paranoia may experience significant changes to general mood and related behavior. They may also be prone to hyper vigilance, or a feeling of constantly being on edge and ready for harm.
  5. Paranoid individuals may constantly feel as though they are being attacked, and may greet the smallest comment with a strong degree of defensiveness.

The Most Common Causes of Paranoia

Paranoia itself is not common, but there are a handful of disorders and conditions that can make paranoia far more likely. These disorders include:

  • Paranoid personality disorder. Paranoid personality disorder is a personality disorder that is primarily known for its persistent and unsubstantiated feeling of stress and suspicion.
  • Delusional disorder. Delusional disorder was once known as paranoid disorder, but has been renamed due to the differences between general paranoia and delusion. Within delusional disorder, paranoia can exist, but delusional disorder is primarily characterized by a break from reality, or not being able to differentiate between reality and imagination. This particular condition is also frequently referred to simply as “psychosis.”
  • Schizophrenia (paranoid subtype). Paranoid schizophrenia is a disorder that differs from delusional disorder in the scope of symptoms. Although delusions are usually a part of schizophrenia (including paranoid symptoms), schizophrenia is also accompanied by hallucinations, and more visible symptoms such as impaired motor function.
  • Dementia is a type of degenerative disorder, though not all forms of dementia are irreversible. The most well-known cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, but age and medication can also play a role in the development of dementia.
  • Paranoia can present as a symptom of PTSD, though it is not necessary for diagnostic criteria. Paranoia within PTSD usually presents as feeling fearful and distrustful of other people.

Tackling Paranoia and Moving Forward

The precise method used to tackle paranoia will depend on the reason for paranoia (learn more about paranoia here). If it is a symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, for instance, paranoia is best approached via therapy and medication. If it is a result of a degenerative disorder like Alzheimer’s disease, paranoia will most likely be addressed through a combination of medication, comfort-taking measures, and therapies. Moving forward after receiving a diagnosis of a paranoid disorder or a condition that has paranoia as a symptom will typically involve some amount of therapy, medication interventions, and even lifestyle changes to help soothe the body and mind grappling with paranoid symptoms.

Martin Maina
Martin Maina is a professional writer and blogger who uses his expertise, skills, and personal experience in digital marketing to craft content that resonates with audiences. Deep down, he believes that if you cannot do great things, then you can do small things in a great way. To learn more, you can connect with him online.
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