Paranoia implies thinking characterized by exceedingly great anxiety or fear, the fear or anxiety being illogical or irrational. Persecutory beliefs are a typical characteristic of such thinking. These beliefs cause patients to suffer from a perceived threat toward themselves. Historically, this characterization was used to describe any delusional state. In modern psychiatry however, paranoia is diagnosed in the following forms:
- Paranoid Personality Disorder
- Paranoid Schizophrenia (a subtype of schizophrenia)
- Persecutory Delusions (a subtype of delusional disorder)
Paranoid personality disorder is a chronic and pervasive psychological condition distinguished by thoughts and behaviors that are disruptive in nature. This disorder is thought to affect one to two-percent of U.S. adults.
Symptoms may often resemble schizophrenia. Research indicates that there may be a genetic link between these two disorders. Individuals with Paranoid Personality Disorder are at a greater risk for experiencing depression, substance abuse, and agoraphobia.
The signs and symptoms of paranoid personality disorder include:
1.Chronic and pervasive distrust and suspicion of others.
2. Feelings that one is being lied to, deceived, or exploited by other people.
3. One may constantly believe that friends, family, and romantic partners are untrustworthy and unfaithful.
4. Frequent outbursts of anger in response to perceived deception.
5. One is often described as cold, jealous, secretive, and serious.
6. One is always looking for hidden meanings in gestures and conversations.
Paranoid traits seem to be genetic in origin. A possible genetic link between this personality disorder and schizophrenia is believed to exist. Apart from genetic factors, psychosocial theories attribute paranoid personality disorder to negative internal feelings and parental modeling.
Diagnosis, Exams, and Tests
Personality disorders are diagnosed through psychological evaluation of the patient. The history and severity of symptoms also play a key role in conducting this analysis.
Treatments for Paranoid Personality Disorder
Paranoid personality disorder is generally treated with psychotherapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is also effective in helping individuals adjust their distorted thought patterns, and maladaptive behaviors. Other therapy approaches include group therapy and psychodynamic therapy. In some cases, medication is used in combination with psychotherapy.
Commonly prescribed drugs include antidepressants, anti-psychotics, and anti-anxiety medications. Medications alone are not a recommended treatment for personality disorders and it is advisable to use them in combination with psychotherapy.
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