You may recognize this person: Always suspicious of the decisions, actions and motives of others.
This paranoid individual could be a friend of yours, or perhaps a relative. But one thing is for sure – they have a universal distrust of other people.
You may remember a grandparent who was always suspicious of everyone who walked past their house. They would constantly peek out their windows, and stare intently at anyone who walked by. If they saw anyone acting even a little unusually, their imaginations would run wild, and they would quickly become agitated or panicky.
Individuals such as the character above are likely to be suffering from a mental illness known as “paranoid personality disorder.” People with this disorder will nearly always be suspicious of others. As well as paranoid behavior, they may also display odd or eccentric ways of thinking and acting.
People with Paranoid Personality Disorder are difficult to get on with.
While it’s not unusual to have times in your life when you are suspicious (or even paranoid), when this becomes the norm, then something is definitely wrong.
Paranoid personality disorder (PPD) sufferers are so caught up in their world of defensiveness, that they can easily become incessant complainers, argumentative or even hostile. Their hyper-vigilant behavior often leads to a cold, guarded and lonely existence.
As you can imagine (or perhaps have experienced), PPD sufferers don’t tend to attract or hold onto harmonious friendships or relationships.
Family influence and childhood trauma are some potential causes of PPD.
At present, mental health researchers have been unable to determine the exact cause of PPD. However, they believe that a combination of environmental and biological factors could lead to the onset of the disorder.
For example, PPD is more likely to be present in families with a history of delusional disorders and schizophrenia. Another contributing factor could be early childhood trauma.
As researchers have been unable to pinpoint a specific cause of PPD, it’s probable that several intertwined factors could be responsible.
Whatever the cause of PPD may be, it’s important to be able to identify someone suffering from this disorder.
These are some common symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder.
Tell-tale signs of PPD include the following:
- Weak self-image.
- Relentless suspicion.
- Social isolation.
- Inability to collaborate.
- Expectation they will be exploited.
- Hypersensitive to criticism.
- Argumentative and defensive.
As mentioned earlier, PPD sufferers can come across as cold and calculating individuals due to their avoidance of closeness with others.
It may surprise you to learn that PPD occurs in about 0.5%–2.5% of the general population. Men are also more likely than women to suffer from this disorder.
But yes, Paranoid Personality Disorder sufferers can be helped.
If you know someone suffering from PPD (perhaps even yourself), then check out the list below of four techniques that can help:
- Learn about the disorder. The internet can be a powerful tool for good. PPD sufferers who wish to seek help with their problems, can find an abundance of freely available online resources. There is also an extensive range of self-help books available on sites such as AbeBooks and Amazon.
- Trust a professional therapist. To do this, a PPD sufferer must of course overcome their suspicion of doctors and mental health professionals. However, if they can do that, then a therapist is likely to be able to tackle and reduce the patient’s symptoms.
- Enlist family support. However distant a PPD sufferer may have become from their family, loved ones can be the best form of support. It may only take the care and attention of a parent or sibling to provide a valuable lifeline to a PPD sufferer. Instead of attempting to battle PPD on their own, a regular helping hand from a family member can make a valuable and significant difference.
- Consider medication. Combined with psychotherapy, medications can help to alleviate symptoms associated with PPD such as: anxiety, delusions and depression. Prescribed medications may include antidepressants and antipsychotics.
Paranoid personality disorder can be a debilitating and isolating condition.
However, if a sufferer can recognize their problem, and find the will to change, then they will have taken their first steps on the road to mental wellness.
Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io