What is Paranoia?

What is the difference between clinical paranoia and normal worrying of someones intent? Paranoia is defined as 'a mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance, typically elaborated into an organized system. It may be an aspect of chronic personality disorder, of drug abuse, or of a serious condition such as schizophrenia in which the person loses touch with reality.' They key to understanding the difference in paranoia and normal worrying is that someone who experiencing paranoia has lost touch with reality, their conclusions are not based on facts, and their opinion is not shared with others.  

As mentioned in the definition, paranoia can evolve out of experiencing severe abuse in which one's worldview is tainted after being mistreated, substance abuse, or a serious chemical imbalance int he brain causing schizophrenia or the like. There is help available to treat someone who is experiencing paranoia. Therapists, psychiatrists, and medical doctors can work together with the individual to help their brain get balanced and their thoughts become reality based.

In the meantime, how can you help a loved one who is experiencing paranoid delusions? Because paranoia is a disorder based in a lack of judgement and thinking, the best thing you can help them with is partaking in activities that help them restore reality based thinking. This could include helping them process through these situations, someones intent, and helping them understand not to act on their skepticism that people are against them. For the person experiencing paranoia, Effective coping with paranoia means finding ways to 1) Recognize when you’ve come to the wrong conclusion, and 2) Stop yourself from acting out in ways that will cause harm to innocent other people. Paranoia is a serious condition in which you should seek help immediately but it is treatable!

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