What Does It Mean to Be Paranoid?

Reviewed on 2/5/2021

Being paranoid means having a feeling of extreme worry because you believe that other people do not like you or are trying to harm you.
Being paranoid means having a feeling of extreme worry because you believe that other people do not like you or are trying to harm you.

Being paranoid means having a feeling of extreme worry because you believe that other people do not like you or are trying to harm you. These feelings exist without any strong reasons to feel so. This mental state is also called paranoia. It involves intense restlessness and fears because of the false belief that people are going to harm you (feeling of persecution), threaten you, or conspire against you. Paranoia may be seen in several mental disorders. It is, however, most commonly seen in those mental health disorders where a person loses connection with reality (psychotic disorders). The person may even feel that they are being judged by others all the time. The false belief is often so strong that a person with paranoia may not accept rational thoughts, despite being given contrary evidence or explanation. This harms them mentally and physically hampering their everyday activities. 

What are the signs of being paranoid?

We all may experience a sense of doubt or contempt toward someone. But paranoid people have an extreme belief that they are being harmed by others in the absence of any solid reason. A paranoid person may exhibit the following signs and symptoms:

  • They do not trust the commitment, truthfulness, or loyalty of other people.
  • They believe that other people are cheating or exploiting them.
  • They do not share their thoughts or information with others, as they believe that others may use the information to harm them in some way.
  • They hold grudges and find it extremely difficult to forgive others.
  • They get angry or emotional at the slightest criticism.
  • They turn hypervigilant and question the loyalty of everyone around them, even their friends and spouse.
  • They always wrongly decode other people’s gestures, conversations, and even looks as a remark.
  • They may be overly possessive, controlling, or jealous because of the fear of being betrayed.
  • They generally stay distant from people and avoid socializing because of the fear of being harmed or judged.
  • Cannot see their role in problems or conflicts, believing they are always right.
  • They appear restless and have difficulty in staying calm.
  • They are quick to retaliate with disproportionately louder reactions.
  • They are generally stubborn and difficult to convince.
  • They are argumentative and do not listen carefully before responding.
  • They do not practice inclusiveness toward people who are different from them (in beliefs or culture).
  • They always look for some hidden motives behind what people do or say.
  • They think that people are criticizing them in their absence.

Can paranoia be treated?

Generally, paranoia is overlooked and considered as a part of someone’s personality. A person with paranoia may not seek medical help, as they believe that there is nothing wrong with them. They may avoid medical help, as they do not trust anyone, not even the therapist. If you feel that you or your loved ones have the symptoms of paranoia, you must seek urgent medical help, as early treatment gives good results.

The treatment is mainly counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT involves helping the person correct the way they think about people or situations and develop a positive attitude and coping strategies for them. Some people may also need medications to lower the stress and reduce the anxiety. With proper treatment, people with paranoia can lead healthy and productive lives.

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References
https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/what-is-the-difference-between-paranoia-and-reasonable-suspicion-1004187

https://www.themix.org.uk/mental-health/psychosis/paranoia-6635.html

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