How To Stop Paranoia And Anxiety

By Mary Elizabeth Dean

Updated March 16, 2020

Reviewer Christy B.

Anxiety is something everyone experiences at one time or another. It's a very natural response to sometimes normal, everyday situations. Paranoia is an extreme form of anxiety and one that focuses on others. It's a belief that others are out to get us or mean us harm. It leads to distrust of everyone around us and what their intentions might be for us.

Everyone experiences fear and worry. They are a part of our survival traits. After all, if we don't fear something dangerous, we're much less likely to avoid it. Unfortunately, because human lives are more complex than the lives of other animals, we develop many more ideas of what to worry about. With the right tools, however, you can learn how to stop paranoia and anxiety.

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How to Stop Anxiety

  1. Breathe. The first line of defense against any of the thoughts that lead us down a dark path is to breathe. Learning deep-breathing exercises and meditating can help slow your racing thoughts down enough to get your bearings. Once there, you are more capable of thinking clearly and more rationally about what is causing your fear and anxiety.
  2. Ask questions. Once you've calmed your breath and your mind to the point where you can think clearly, ask yourself if you are reacting rationally or in a way that is helpful. Is what you are facing insurmountable? Is this something you can deal with, small step by small step? Is there someone you can ask for help? Try to determine if you are thinking reasonably or if your emotions are getting the better of you.
  3. Plan. Figure out what will be most helpful for you when you start to feel the symptoms of anxiety creeping up. Or maybe there is no "creep" and it just suddenly presents itself. Either way, having a plan of action can be immensely helpful. It should involve anything that you find helpful or anxiety-reducing. For example, calling a friend you trust, making a detailed to-do list, or taking a walk around the block. Make sure to have several steps in your plan in case one isn't enough, or the first couple aren't helping at that moment. But, rest assured that even knowing that you have a plan of action that you can utilize when anxiety comes on can help you to remain or get to a place of calm.
  4. Medication. Talk to your doctor about what you're experiencing. Some anxiety is to be expected, but if you're feeling unable to shake it and it's interrupting your life, it may help you most to talk to your doctor about what options are available to you. Many of the medications people take help just to quell the underlying tremor of anxiety that persists within them.

How to Stop Paranoia

The idea that someone is out to hurt you can take many forms. You may be paranoid that a partner or lover is going to leave you for someone else. Or you may constantly be worried that a stranger will attack you or break into your home if you let your guard down. It is normal to have general concerns or worries, but when they get in the way of your daily functioning, it can become problematic. When you start to worry excessively about these things, you can take these steps to keep paranoia from taking over your life.

  1. Recognize the "what-if" game. Many people play a game with their minds. It can be called the "what-if" game. It's when you worry about a situation in the future, something that hasn't happened yet. And instead of visualizing yourself succeeding or having a positive outcome, you start to think about all the negative scenarios that could happen. Another word for this is catastrophizing, which means that you are playing out a worst case scenario in your head with no evidence that this will happen. You ask yourself, for instance, "What if this person thinks I'm stupid?" Or "What if someone laughs at my opinion?" But if you can at least recognize that you tend to see the worst-case scenario, then you can be aware of when you are playing this game with yourself. When you catch yourself playing this game, take a deep breath, and pause. Remind yourself that there is no logical reason that the worst case would happen over other, more positive outcomes.
  2. Practice positive visualizations. Choose a time when you are not experiencing anxiety or paranoia, and practice consciously putting positive images in your head. Start small, with a situation that does not typically cause you to worry. Play through the situation in your mind, imagining how well you accomplish each step.


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  3. Banish self-conscious thinking. If your paranoia is rooted in social anxiety and the worry that others will not accept you, then the best thing to do is just stop caring what others think. It sounds easier said than done, but you can never please everyone, and constantly guessing what someone else wants from you will leave you drained. Most of the assumptions that we have about what others think about us are due to our insecurities rather than facts or evidence that someone doesn't like you. If you work on being happy with yourself, instead, you will likely stop projecting negative thoughts about yourself onto others. Worst case scenario, someone may not like you, and you won't care!
  4. Work on your anxiety. Extreme anxiety results in paranoia so it can be helpful to tackle it first. You've already about how to get a better handle on your anxiety, so this step should be easy! First breathe, then ask questions, make a plan, and talk to your doctor about your options.

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How do I stop being paranoid?

If you're paranoid, it's difficult to stop, especially if your paranoia is more severe than in most cases. However, there are steps you can take to help with your paranoia, including your paranoia is

more severe than in most cases. However, there are steps you can take to help with your paranoia, including:

  • Talk to a therapist about your paranoia and why you believe you feel this way. A therapist may help to identify the causes of your paranoia and figure out some ways that you can treat your paranoia as well.
  • Stay in good health. Eat right, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. Lacking any of these may cause your symptoms of paranoia to intensify.
  • Practice mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy, two techniques that can help with your symptoms of paranoia. They help by allowing you to look at your thoughts and discard any that are toxic, and keep you focused on the present.
  • What causes the paranoid thoughts to manifest? Write down some possible triggers, and figure out how you can avoid them. This is another issue that you can discuss with your therapist. You two can work together to prevent any episodes.
  • While this won't help with extreme cases, look at your paranoia through a rational lens. Look at statistics and content that disproves your paranoia. Be rational about it as best as you can.
  • Finally, if you're trying to get help for your paranoia, you're already making progress. Many paranoid people aren't self-aware about their paranoia, and may be aggressive if someone accuses them of being paranoid. By trying to make changes, you're proving that you want to get help, which isn't the case for a lot of paranoid cases.

Is paranoia a mental illness?

It can be. Having slight paranoia about something may not be a sign of a mental illness, especially if you have a rational reason behind it. Sometimes, paranoia may be a product of another mental illness, like anxiety.

Clinical paranoia, or paranoid personality disorder, is the mental illness behind paranoia. Clinical paranoia is when you're 100 percent convinced that someone is out to get you, even if the evidence says otherwise. Clinical paranoia can ruin one's life and make it harder to function. Of course, you do need to visit a health professional to make sure you have clinical paranoia. Sometimes, the clinical paranoia could be a sign of something else.

What are the signs and symptoms of paranoia?

The symptoms of paranoia are more than just thinking that someone or something is out to get you. Here are some symptoms you need to look out for:

  • You have a mistrust of everyone or many people. This mistrust tends to be irrational and can trigger some intense emotions.
  • You have a hard time forgiving someone, even if they've proven that they're in the wrong.
  • You get extremely defensive with any criticism. Sometimes, you may even imagine the criticism.
  • You always believe that someone has a hidden motive. No one can be nice to you for the sake of niceness. They must want to take advantage of you in some way.
  • You are very argumentative, even when there is no reason to be.
  • You have a hard time relaxing. This may be due to anxiety. Because of this, you could have a hard time falling asleep, making your paranoia worse as a result.

These are just a few symptoms, and they can show themselves in quite a few different ways. It's important to seek help if you suspect that you're paranoid.

What can cause paranoia?

Paranoia can have many causes. Here are a few:

  • Past experiences. Sometimes, your paranoia may stem from something that happened to you in the past, and this can make it feel all the more logical. For example, if you had a car crash, you may be extremely paranoid that you'll get in another one. However, being cautious can turn into extreme paranoia. If people have betrayed your trust before, this can lead to paranoia as well. These experiences can come from adulthood and especially childhood.
  • You live in a place where you feel isolated from everyone else. A large city, for example, with no sense of community. Being in a community that has high rates of crime can make you paranoid, too.
  • Certain mental disorders can lead to paranoia. Depression, anxiety, having low self-esteem, the list goes on. Having poor sleep can lead to paranoia, especially if you can't sleep due to paranoid thoughts. It can sometimes be a tough cycle for you to break.
  • Brain disorders can lead to paranoid. Someone with a form of dementia could develop paranoia.
  • Some people may be more genetically prone to paranoia, but the causes for this is not known yet.
  • Certain drugs and alcohol can lead to paranoid thoughts. Smoking too much cannabis in an uncomfortable environment can lead to paranoia, and so can drinking too much alcohol. Any drug, illegal or legal, could have paranoia as a side effect. Even some paints could lead to it.

How do I stop being so insecure?

Insecurity can make you feel ugly when you look fine, make you feel incompetent when you have experience, and make you feel worried when you have this. Just like paranoia, there are many reasons that one may be insecure, and there is overlap between the two. Here are some ways to reduce your insecurity.

  • We can't stress this enough. Seek help from a therapist to help with your insecurity. They can help you with identifying the reasons for your insecurity and help find ways for you to improve.
  • Try a positivity journal. Write down everything that makes you feel happy about yourself, and some of your securities. This can help you realize that your insecurities aren't as important as you believe they are.
  • Mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy can help with this. Take a deep breath and try discarding self-defeating thoughts and thoughts that are unproductive.

Is paranoia the same as anxiety?

Paranoia and anxiety are not the same, but there is much overlap. Anxiety is a blanket term that covers quite a few disorders, and paranoia can be a part of it. Someone who is anxious may worry about things too much or have panic attacks for no reason at all. Paranoia is more about feeling like someone or something is out to get you. However, someone with anxiety may not necessarily be paranoid.

At what age does paranoia develop?

Paranoia doesn't have a magic age, but with paranoid personality disorder, many cases often start in childhood or adolescence, then worsen with time. It's quite common when you're a teen and drama starts to happen.

Some disorders that are due to age can cause paranoia. Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, which are found in older people, can lead to paranoia.

What does paranoia feel like?

Paranoia can feel different for everyone involved. You may feel intense emotions or anxiety whenever someone or something makes you paranoid. They may give you extreme anger or fear. Your mind may obsess over these people or things and you cannot change the channel in your brain no matter what you do.

How do you overcome paranoia in a relationship?

Paranoia in a relationship, especially a new one, is quite common. For some, there is a bit of paranoia about whether the relationship will last, and you may worry that your partner is cheating on you, even if there is no evidence.

If the paranoia is due to a mental disorder, then you should seek therapy. If it's because of you getting burned in the past, or because you're afraid of losing your partner, you should still go to the therapist, but there are a few ways of reducing your paranoia in the relationship. These include:

  • Be communicative with your partner. Express your worries and your concerns. Don't outright accuse them of something they aren't doing, but express healthy worry about your relationship, especially if it's new.
  • Make sure you have self-worth. Some people who may be overly paranoid about their relationship have self-worth issues. It's important that you speak to a therapist about this, or look for other ways to improve your self-esteem.
  • Try not to jump to the worst conclusion if something happens. Your partner isn't responding right away? There are many rational explanations for this that don't involve cheating. It can be hard to do, but with a bit of mindfulness, you can learn how to stop being so paranoid in a relationship.
  • Seek help from a relationship therapist. This is the ultimate way to eliminate any doubts or paranoia you have in a relationship. A therapist is also a great way for you to communicate your feelings without sounding like the bad guy. Quite often, it's difficult to express feelings of paranoia without making your partner upset. A therapist can be the one who explains your feelings in a way that's easy to swallow, but gets the point across.

Dealing with Both Paranoia and Anxiety

When your anxiety skyrockets and seems insurmountable, or your paranoia is persistent, it would be most beneficial to enlist the help of the experts. Although having some fears protects you from risks, letting those fears control you will also stop you from living a fulfilling life. At BetterHelp.com, you will find thousands of therapists at the ready to help you reach your goals. If you want to make changes in your life, BetterHelp enables you to easily reach out to a licensed therapist to get help for more serious paranoia and anxiety.


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