Drowning in Paranoia: Paranoid Personality Disorder

Drowning in Paranoia: Paranoid Personality Disorder

Paranoid personality disorder (PPD) is a mental health condition where an individual has deep mistrust and suspicion in others, even if there is no prominent reason to. The unwarranted suspicion can be so intense that it gets in the way of everyday thoughts and daily activities. Individuals who display paranoia tend to not confide in others and believe family members or loved ones are unfaithful and deceptive. A common reason why people who exhibit PPD do not confide in others is because of the unfounded fear that the information they share will be used against them. There is consistency in feelings of constantly being lied to, exploited by others, and potential harm coming their way (Cherry, 2020). Habitually, they tend to distrust others so much that it often results in them not sharing how they feel which fosters their suspicions for a longer period of time.

People who are diagnosed with PPD present cardinal features such as a strong sensitivity to criticism and judgment, hypervigilance, and aggressiveness. Their internal aura tends to be serious, cold and filled with skepticism or even jealousy. They are not the type to be forgiving or to forget insults and events they found to be malevolent to them. They can react angrily towards any remarks they consider demanding or threatening. It is not uncommon for an individual with PPD to experience an outburst of anger due to deception from another individual. 

Their hostile nature may lead them to speculate that there are hidden messages or meanings in other’s body language or gestures. In relationships, they can display an overbearing controlling figure in order to avoid manipulation from a spouse or partner. People with PPD can be seen as holding negative views of other people, overreacting to feedback, and find difficulty in trying to relax and calm down. 

The causes of paranoid personality disorder are unknown. Due to its primary symptoms of not trusting others, people who have PPD do not tend to seek medical help and guidance to cope with the difficulties that come with the disorder. From research and case studies collected, two factors that may contribute to the onset of PPD are genetics and psychological factors (Cherry, 2020). It is estimated that about 4.4% of the population are diagnosed with this particular personality disorder. This type of personality disorder commonly appears in males more often than women. 

There has been some evidence to what links or causes the onset of paranoid personality disorder. Unsettling early childhood experiences or related trauma may play a prominent role in the development of PPD. It has been discovered that if there is a family history of schizophrenia present, it may pose a greater risk for individuals with PPD. Other risk factors that seem to have a correlation with paranoid personality disorder are anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that involves the irrational fear of being unable to escape a situation or place (Star, 2021).  

Treatment options for PPD do not encourage medication because it may increase the risk of chronic paranoia, however, if treatment is not sought out, there is a strong potential for paranoia to increase. It is typically recommended that there be a treatment plan discussed with a medical health professional so it is tailored uniquely to the individual suffering from PPD. If daily functioning is affected and there is potential for self-harm, medication is usually suggested. A common form of therapy that seems to be the most effective is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which aids individuals in learning and identifying destructive or disturbing thought patterns to manage paranoid personality disorder. 

Since there is a strong reluctance to seek out help for PPD and a lack of research upon the disorder, there may be a possibility of feeling misunderstood. However, with the proper treatment plan and developing coping techniques, there is a stronger possibility to live life without fear and create successful relationships with others.  



Cherry, K. (2020). How to Recognize If Someone Has Paranoid Personality Disorder. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/paranoid-personality-disorder-2795448

Star, K. (2021). How Agoraphobia Is Diagnosed. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/agoraphobia-101-2584235

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