What Is A Paranoia Test & Why Is It Needed?
By: Joy Youell
Updated May 06, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Ema Jones, LCSW
When we have dealt with trauma or dysfunctional relationships, it can damage how we view the world. In some cases, it can make us believe that the world and individuals are out to get us. This point of view is often one characteristic of paranoia. According to the Mental Health America website, paranoia involves intense anxious or fearful feelings and thoughts often related to persecution, threat, or conspiracy.
Paranoia may persist underneath the surface for people who otherwise function very normally. Paranoia may also occur with mental disorders. Paranoia can damage mental health when persistent thoughts and feelings become delusions, which are firmly maintained ideas that are clung to even in the face of contrary evidence. It is also a symptom of paranoid personality disorder (PPD), part of a group of conditions called "Cluster A" personality disorders. These disorders often appear in early adulthood and are more common in men. People who have personality disorders can enjoy full and happy lives with a variety of treatment options, including counseling.
Do You Feel Paranoid?
If you notice that you have irrationally paranoid thoughts or suffer from unrelenting mistrust, you may wish to understand the nature of paranoid personality disorders. It's imperative to remember that only a counselor or mental health professional can thoroughly assess and diagnose personality disorders. Throughout this article, we'll discuss some of the causes and signs of paranoia, but also what paranoia tests are available and how they can assist you in determining if you need further assistance.
Possible Causes of Paranoia
It can be hard to recognize paranoia in yourself, as paranoia itself alters your outlook and judgment. Habitual paranoid thought patterns can amplify fears and an increased perception of threats. Paranoid thoughts are often focused on what you think people might be thinking or planning to do against you. It should be noted that paranoia can be justified in some instances. For example, if you've been victimized in the past, you may experience more paranoia-like symptoms and in turn, become more cautious. This kind of thinking is reasonable and leads to caution. Paranoid thinking is different in that it is rarely rooted in historical experience and can lead individuals to make irrational and even drastic decisions.
There are several different causes of paranoia, which are often related to other mental health disorders. A few of these causes can include:
- Alcoholism: a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking, which can lead to paranoia and delusions
- Bipolar Disorder: this disorder is characterized by depression, mania, and severe mood swings
- Anxiety: a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms, such as trouble concentrating, headaches, and sleep problems, which can contribute to increased paranoia
- Brain Tumors: these tumors can press on different areas of the brain, resulting in paranoia or other mood changes
- Drug Abuse: an addiction to drugs can result in an altered state of consciousness, which can contribute to paranoia
There can also be other issues underlying paranoia, such as low self-esteem or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Soldiers and others who have dealt with intense trauma often suffer from random attacks of paranoia. While all potential causes of paranoia are not definitively known, there seems to be a combination of biological and psychological factors. There is also evidence that early childhood experiences, including trauma and abuse, can play a role in the development of PPD.
Symptoms of Paranoia
Paranoia, as part of the group of personality disorders, often displays itself in the following ways:
- Doubting the commitment of others
- Distrusting others and assuming or expecting disloyalty
- A reluctance to confide in others or even reveal personal information for fear that it can be used against you later
- Unforgiving or quick to hold a grudge
- Looking for hidden meanings in what people do and say
- Perceived attacks, even when presented with evidence to the contrary
- Hostile, argumentative, and stubborn behavior
Individuals who display these qualities may suffer from recurring suspicions that target specific relationships. Paranoia can also stimulate control and jealousy, which erodes trust and relationships. People who suffer from paranoia may or may not realize that they're damaging their close relationships through these kinds of actions. Even if they do realize it, they may feel powerless to stop.
Types of Paranoia
The severity of paranoia symptoms can range from mild to severe based on the type of paranoia that an individual suffers from. Severe forms of paranoia can leave an individual feeling isolated, terrified, and exhausted by the constant worrying over what they believe is happening or going to happen. For those who suffer from paranoia, it rarely occurs alone but is rather often associated with other mental conditions. Some of these can include anxiety disorders, depression, phobias, and delusional disorder. Paranoid personality disorder and paranoid schizophrenia are two of the more severe disorders associated with paranoia.
If left unchecked, paranoia can negatively impact a person's ability to function in the world, as they see threats around every corner and in people that mean them no harm. Learning more about this condition and reaching out for trustworthy help through counseling are important steps to overcoming paranoia.
Can You Be Tested for Paranoia?
- Online Tests: Various tests can be used to access your level of paranoia. There are multiple tests online that provide some insight into whether paranoid behaviors could indicate a problematic mental health condition. It's important to remember that these tests are casual and are simply meant to provide cursory information. They are not a substitute for a complete diagnostic workup with your physician and mental health provider.
- Mental Tests: Working with a mental health professional, you can go through several diagnostic tests. These tests will include a mental state examination, which evaluates appearance, behavior, rate, and continuity of speech, mood, thought content, and any evidence of hallucinations or abnormal beliefs.
- Physical Tests: A physical examination will access your neurological state, looking for focal neurological signs and signs of papilledema. Doctors might also look for signs of alcohol or drug abuse. Additionally, blood tests will be done to look for any physical abnormalities that could be contributing to an imbalance in your mental state. These could include looking at your sugar levels, liver function, thyroid function, electrolytes, calcium, and renal function.
- Brain Tests: Radiological investigations may involve a CT scan or an MRI brain scan, which can be used to detect various causes of delirium or brain changes that could be indicative of other mental issues of which paranoia is a symptom. This process could also include an assessment of dementia.
If you've noticed areas of your life where paranoia seems to be more prevalent, it's important to bring up your concerns with your physician. Doing so can help you to determine if the paranoia has a physical cause that can be addressed medically.
Addressing Paranoia Through Treatment
If you determine that there's not a physical cause for your paranoia, then it's time to work with a licensed therapist to address the underlying causes that could be contributing to your paranoid tendencies. This process will involve recognizing that you are exhibiting this behavior and that you need help to deal with it effectively.
During this time, it is important to look at your history for specific points of trauma or emotional abuse that could be contributing to your feelings of paranoia. Working with a licensed mental health professional, you can also assess whether your symptoms are part of another mental health condition. Treatment will be primarily focused on relieving the stress and anxiety associated with paranoia and thus improving your overall wellbeing. Doing so will help you to feel more grounded as you work to deal with any other issues related to the paranoia.
There are also lifestyle changes that you can make that can help to ease your paranoia. These changes can include regular exercise, healthy sleep, and stress reduction. Working with a counselor or therapist, you can learn effective methods to manage the stress in your life, thus positively impacting your feelings of paranoia. Mental health professionals can work with you to determine the cause of your paranoia and then create a treatment plan to address your specific needs. This treatment plan might include therapy and possibly medical treatments for any physical issues, including depression or anxiety.
A form of psychotherapy called cognitive behavior therapy may also be used. This particular type of therapy helps people to examine and address any thinking patterns or attitudes that could be contributing to their paranoia or other negative behaviors. Psychotherapy can also include focusing on general coping skills, as well as improving your social interactions, communication, and any self-esteem issues.
BetterHelp Online Counseling
A great first step to receiving the right treatment for any kind of personality disorder is connecting with a licensed mental health care provider on BetterHelp. BetterHelp is a completely digital platform where you can schedule counseling sessions at your convenience. You'll be matched with a counselor who can best meet your needs and continue care for as long as you need it. Below you can read some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people who have been helped with similar issues.
"It's been a difficult road of recovery for me. I've had doubts and fears but Nicole has been reassuring that I'll be myself again. She's taken the chance to get to know me and is optimistic. Having someone listen and give me strategies has been helpful on my road to getting my life back."
"I've barely started my counseling through this website. Even though it has been 3 weeks, it has helped out. I'm able to tell her things that my paranoid delusions aren't able to use against me. I guess it is because she is at a distance. Either which way, her tools of coping are massive and highly appreciated. Adding more tools to the chest."
Recovery from Paranoia
Growing past any challenges takes time and persistence. Moving beyond patterns of paranoia can lead to a life of freedom and peace of mind. Finding a trusted therapist may be the key to starting new habits that lead to better health. A truly fulfilling life in which paranoia doesn't hold you back is possible - all you need are the right tools. Take the first step today.