The feeling you’re being threatened even when you know your concerns aren’t based in reality...
Paranoia is the feeling that you’re being threatened in some way, such as people watching you or acting against you, even though there’s no proof that it’s true. It happens to many people, and even if you know your concerns aren’t based in reality, they can be very troubling when they happen consistently.
Clinical paranoia is even more severe, where you believe others are unfair, lying, or actively trying to harm you when there’s no proof. To make matters worse, you don’t think you’re paranoid at all because you are so sure that it is true.
Anxiety and Paranoia
Paranoia and anxiety are often linked, as a paranoid thought is a type of anxious thought. Anxiety can cause paranoia, increasing the area you’re paranoid about and even how long the feeling lasts.
It’s normal to be anxious sometimes, especially when life circumstances are difficult. But when feelings of anxiety and panic, turn to paranoia that lasts a long time or gets in the way of your daily life - that is a sign of a mental health disorder that needs treated before things get worse.
Symptoms of Paranoia
The symptoms of paranoia can include:
- Being defensive, hostile, and aggressive
- Being easily offended
- Believing you are always right and having trouble relaxing
- Not being able to compromise, forgive, or accept criticism
- Not being able to trust or confide in other people
- Reading hidden meanings into people’s normal behaviors
Causes of Paranoia
Lack of quality sleep
Extended periods of sleeplessness can start to deplete clear thinking and increase misunderstandings. You may begin to distrust people after having more than normal common misunderstandings, and eventually lead to thinking people are acting out against you. Going without sleep long enough can eventually lead to seeing or hearing things that aren’t there at call - called hallucinations.
When stress and tension increases, people naturally are on guard and begin to feel more suspicious of others. When even happy occasions begin to create abnormal levels of stress, it can very quickly lead into paranoia.
Drugs like marijuana, hallucinogens (LSD, psychotropic mushrooms), and stimulants (cocaine, methamphetamine) have chemicals that make some people paranoid for short periods. Repeated use and intake of these chemicals causing short term paranoia, can eventually lead to long term and ongoing paranoia. the chemicals leave your system, the paranoia goes away, too. Even alcohol can worsen paranoia, decreasing self-control and natural inhibitions making it harder to control our feelings.
If you feel that you’re losing touch with reality, a mental health professional is the best place to start.
In the meantime, here are some simple things you can do to ease tension:
- Take time to relax and forget about your stress
- Spend time with friends
- Get plenty of exercise
- Meditate to clear your mind
- Eat at a healthy balanced diet
- Get plenty of sleep