Paranoia is irrational thoughts or feelings of being under threat or believing that people are ‘out to get you’ despite the fact that there is very little evidence to support the feelings. These thoughts may stem from previous incidents but be blown out of proportion eg. your family having a conversation in the living room could result in you believing that conversation is a plot against you. Paranoia is not a mental health problem in itself. However, it may be a symptom of other underlying mental health issues.
The causes of paranoia are not fully understood, although it is thought that it may be as a result of lack of sleep, genetics, other mental health issues, extreme stress or recreational drug use. In older adults or people who are also experiencing significant memory loss it can be a symptom of dementia.
The symptoms of paranoia include:
- Anger problems
- Intense mistrust of people
- Being easily offended
- Feelings of betrayal
- Being argumentative or defensive
- Feeling persecuted
- Being unable to forgive and move on
Treatment for paranoia will usually involve starting with your primary care doctor or a psychiatrist to find the underlying cause of the problem. You may also require blood tests and physical examinations to rule out other health problems. Talking therapies such as CBT may be beneficial and there may also be local support groups in your area.
If you feel like you or anybody close to you is experiencing paranoia you should seek support. Contact your primary care doctor who can refer you to the correct support team. If you or someone close to you is an immediate risk to themselves or others you should visit your local emergency room for immediate support.