Most people have felt paranoid at some point in their lives. You might be experiencing one of those times right now. When this occurs, it can be difficult to focus on the positive things that are happening all around you. These paranoid feelings might cause you to focus on negative aspects of life, or you might even think about things that aren't necessarily true. Paranoia can be tough to deal with, but it's something you can manage and eliminate over time.
Paranoia is a feeling of intensified sensitivity. It's the feeling that something is not right—that someone is talking about us, or cheating on us, or that we are about to be fired. To be clear, the kind of paranoia discussed in this article is not the kind associated with a psychiatric disorder like schizophrenia. Instead, we're talking about the normal, garden-variety paranoia brought on by a stress trigger that plagues our everyday lives. However normal it is, if left unchecked, it can interfere with our cognitive functioning, our relationships, and our work, leading to other mental health disturbances such as anxiety and depression.
Sometimes, when we experience paranoia, it's because a repressed fear has emerged within us. We may have the fear that, for example, we have a devastating illness like cancer. We become paranoid, and every little bump and bruise becomes a symptom. The logical solution to ridding oneself of this uncomfortable suspicion-turned-paranoia is to see a doctor. By obtaining credible information, we can lay this paranoia to rest.
You might feel like you're unusual for having paranoid thoughts. Sometimes your spouse or significant other might tell you that your behavior is strange. It might not be healthy behavior, but it's definitely more common than you might think. Many people go through paranoia, and it can be difficult to cope with. You're not alone, and you don't have to face these thoughts by yourself.
Therapy can help people to address paranoid feelings. If you're feeling anxious about something to the point of paranoia, then you might need to seek help. Professionals can help you to gain peace by getting to the bottom of your feelings. They can teach you to use coping mechanisms, so the paranoia will not overwhelm you.
Now for the hard part; sometimes our fears are based in reality. We have a strong feeling they'll come true, but we avoid confirming our suspicions because we're not ready to face the facts. The feelings associated with this type of suspicion can overtake us, causing us to make rash decisions or say irrational things to the object of our suspicion. A simple suspicion that might be intuition turns into paranoia; it begins to eat away at us from the inside out.
If we do not address our suspicions and seek credible evidence to either support or disprove our fears, they can grow into full-blown paranoia. For example, let's say that a woman named Jolie thinks her boyfriend is cheating on her. She bases this suspicion on the fact that he's gotten home late more than three times in the past few weeks. Because she was already in bed and had to get up early to go to work, they have not talked about it.
Jolie begins to create scenarios in her mind about where her boyfriend is and who he's with. She begins to look for evidence of cheating in their past conversations. At first, she asks herself logical questions; maybe he told her he was working on a project and would have some late nights, but she'd forgotten it. In their limited conversations, she may ask about work, but in a vague way.
A week later, her boyfriend is coming home again at the usual time, but instead of enjoying time with him, she's obsessing over the nights he was late in the past. She begins to feel paranoid if he looks at his phone, gets a call, or sends a text. She starts to lose sleep and avoids having sex with him because she's convinced he cheated on her. She's afraid to ask him outright because she's afraid one of two things will happen: he'll tell her the truth, and her world will shatter; or he will lie, and she'll be left feeling this way forever. If Jolie does not resolve her suspicions, she's likely to end up ruining her relationship and even her own health.
1. Identify concrete evidence to support fears.
2. Ask if the suspicion is merely a symptom of some other problem.
3. Ask someone else close to the situation what he or she thinks.
4. If fears linger, reflect on the evidence. If there is none, then the suspicions are likely false.
5. Gently confront her boyfriend.
People often avoid choosing confrontation for fear that their suspicions will be confirmed. Sometimes, we are embarrassed to admit we hold certain suspicions. However, avoiding the issue only causes the suspicions to grow; then paranoia sets in, overtaking our thoughts and actions.
If, after confronting a situation, we find that our fears were justified, then this is actually a positive development because it helps us to make a decision about what to do next. Whether we suspect a significant other of cheating, or we fear we're about to be fired, it's unhealthy to allow these fears to go unchallenged.
If you're experiencing persistent paranoia after taking the five steps above, it may be time to seek attention from a qualified therapist. Paranoia is normal, but when reason and logic fail to assuage your fears, there may be an underlying situation or mental health condition that needs attention.
Research shows that internet-based therapy is effective in treating paranoia and similar mental health problems. In a study published by the American Psychological Association, research pointed to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) as an successful way of decreasing paranoia symptoms. The report specifically mentions online tools for administering CBT, which can lead more people experiencing paranoia symptoms to seek care. Cognitive-behavioral therapy works by giving patients the tools to reframe their intrusive, unhelpful thoughts. According to the study, online therapy increases accessibility to those tools, and provides flexibility in treating mental health disorders that can cause paranoia, narrowing the “psychological treatment gap.”
As discussed above, internet-based therapy is a flexible, effective choice for managing paranoia symptoms. If you are having trouble coping with paranoid thoughts, the stigma associated with therapy may prevent you from seeking help. Online therapy though BetterHelp is a safe and secure way of reaching out for counseling. Your conversations will be completely private, and you’ll never have to share information with support staff or a receptionist. You will also have the option to reach out to your therapist outside of scheduled sessions. If you are experiencing intrusive, unwanted thoughts, message your therapist any time, and he or she will get back to you as soon as possible. A qualified online therapist from BetterHelp can help you work through your paranoia in a healthy way. Read below for counselor reviews, from people experiencing similar issues.
"Loretta has undoubtedly changed my life. In my late attempt to deal with trauma, she has shown me the light at the end of the tunnel. Through the various strategies and methods she provided me, I have become less paranoid, guilt-ridden, and anxious. I am so glad I decided to start using BetterHelp and was paired with Loretta."
"I used to be nervous before any counseling session, afraid of what the counselor would think but now I look forward to our sessions. Ebonii really helps me clear out my head and steer me back to the right path for better mental health. Any time I feel like I'm heading back down the negative path I think of what Ebonii has explained to me and it helps a lot."
The paranoia you're feeling doesn't have to get the better of you. When you have allies who can help you cope with these feelings, it will be much easier to get through the day. With the right tools, you'll feel less nervous and less paranoid, and will be able to focus on the things that make you happy. Take the first step today.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The symptoms of paranoia include:
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, or if your paranoia is interfering with your everyday life, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Speaking to a mental health professional can help you to understand paranoid thoughts and where they come from. A counselor or therapist can also help you learn how to handle these thoughts in a positive and constructive way, rather than allowing them to take over your life.
Paranoia can be triggered by a range of different causes. One simple cause of paranoia is lack of sleep. Stress can also lead to paranoia. There are also a few psychiatric disorders of which paranoia is a common symptom as well. These include schizophrenia, paranoid personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder, among others. Memory loss associated with illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s can also be accompanied by paranoia. Finally, paranoia can be triggered by drug or alcohol use.
Depending on the cause of the paranoia, it is possible for it to go away completely. However, if paranoia is caused by an underlying mental health disorder, it may be more difficult to stop it completely. Luckily, there are many different types of treatment that have been proven to be helpful in relieving paranoia, as well as other symptoms of mental health disorders. For example, those experiencing paranoia may engage in therapy, take medications, learn coping skills, or be admitted to a mental health institution.
Everyone experiences paranoid thoughts and insecure feelings from time to time. But if your paranoia and insecurity seem to be taking over your life completely, it’s time to take action. Since your physical health can have a big impact on your mental health, do your best to eat healthy food, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep.
Next, try to analyze your paranoid and insecure thoughts. Consider what could be contributing to these thoughts; have you had negative experiences in the past that are affecting your perception of the present? You can also talk with a mental health professional regarding these types of thoughts in order to gain valuable insight into your thought processes and emotions.
When feeling paranoid or insecure, try to stay busy and live in the present moment. Rather than focusing on the past or the future so much that it keeps you from enjoying life, keep your schedule relatively full and take each moment as it comes. In addition, don’t bottle up your paranoia and insecurity; talk to a trusted friend, family member, or a counselor about what you’re feeling. Oftentimes, just stating your worries out loud helps you to realize how unrealistic and unlikely they are.
If you notice paranoid thoughts at nighttime, you’re not alone! One tip is to avoid taking naps in the middle of the day, since this can keep you from falling asleep at night. Next, when paranoia begins to hit you, focus on your breathing or try some breathing exercises. Slowing down the breath will signal to your brain that it’s okay to calm down and relax. You can also try meditation or writing in a journal to release your paranoid thoughts. Taking a warm bath before bedtime can also be helpful in reducing nighttime paranoia.
If your fears have to do with the dark, there’s no shame in turning on a lamp or nightlight, as long as it isn’t so bright that it keeps you awake. Creating some white noise with a fan or an app with different sound options can also help you relax enough to go to sleep. Distracting yourself from your paranoia by reading, listening to a podcast, or even creating fun scenarios in your mind can be a simple way to reduce nighttime anxiety as well.
Paranoia can be difficult to handle, and if these simple fixes haven’t reduced your nighttime anxiety, you may wish to schedule a session with a counselor. BetterHelp is one great option that allows you to connect with certified mental health professionals online. Speaking with a counselor and exploring other treatment options for paranoia can be extremely beneficial!
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