Like many other mental health issues mentioned before paranoid personality disorder is ridden with stigma and stereotypes. Even mentioning it makes people think of the Hollywood version of the issue with someone fidgeting and jumping at every creak and snap. While this can be the case in an extreme example, this issue deserves the respect of understanding the full picture.
The first step to understanding is defining it. The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines paranoid personality disorder as a “person has a long-term pattern of distrust and suspicion of others.” An important fact with this definition is that the person does not have a full-blown psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia. Like other personality disorders, paranoia is characterized by rigid, inflexible, and unwilling to adapt and function under the expectations of the individual’s culture.
While paranoid personality disorder shares similarities with other disorders it has some very unique symptoms. According to Psych Central these are:
- Suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her
- Is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends or associates
- Is reluctant to confide in others because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against him or her
- Reads hidden demeaning or threatening meanings into benign remarks or events
- Persistently bears grudges (i.e., is unforgiving of insults, injuries, or slights)
- Perceives attacks on his or her character or reputation that are not apparent to others, and is quick to react angrily or to counterattack
- Has recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding fidelity of spouse or sexual partner
While the symptoms can be very noticeable it can be hard to diagnose Most physicians are not qualified to make such a heavy diagnosis so a trip to a licensed mental health professional is recommended. With this in mind there are no physical yes or no tests to confirm this mental health issue. The majority of the diagnosis is based off of symptoms and a person’s life history which is why it is important to have a transparent conversation with a licensed mental health professional.
Treatment is very similar to the other personality disorder. It ultimately comes down to psychotherapy. While medicine may be prescribed to help the most helpful and effective treatment is long-term psychotherapy from a qualified therapist. If you want to learn more about paranoid personality disorder check out any of the resources under the Useful Resources section.
~Be Mindful of Mind