Help Paranoid People
Here are some suggestions for the person, friends and family to help an evidently sane, but possibly paranoid person who may use a boost.A person needs to remain as calm as possible even in a crisis, and especially if often becoming upset. "Simple" paranoia is the kind of problem in a person's overly suspicious, negative thinking which is not handled well (not controlled) by the person with such paranoid tendencies.
Skip to definition two of paranoia: 2: a tendency on the part of an individual toward excessive or irrational suspicions and distrust of others.
Perhaps this person admits sometimes distinctly "getting" parts of conversations that others do not hear or understand in the negative way. The people supposedly "heard speaking" might even leave; but a paranoid reaction continue with hearing talking (until noticing the talkers are already gone, then would stop): that is a clue to what a auditory paranoid reaction connected to reality may be like!
Clarifying: A person may be irrational in episodes without being insane, if it is "not" continuous or too persistent. One may even seem disconnected from reality for a period of time (and recover after months) without permanent psychosis or incompetence.
- Help the paranoid person stay calm and not to live in a series of panics. People who experience this kind of situation under stress but is still connected to reality and real events (if this is not psychosis) need to be able to assure themselves that it will pass, and that change is possible. Positive thinking may help.
- Do not diagnose or treat any psychological or mental issues without help from mental health professionals. The kind of paranoia discussed here is not the similarly-named mental illness but a kind of chronic anxiety and fearfulness.
Seeking Professional Help if Needed
- Help your family member or friend in seeking a diagnosis and advice from a psychologist, psychotherapist, a clinical social worker, or a psychiatrist trained in dealing with emotional and mental health. Such a professional, who has training and experience in these matters, might lead the sufferer through some steps necessary to find the source of the delusional thinking and fears. They may advise other ways of coping or about seeking psychiatric or medical intervention in more difficult experiences.
- Realize that if self-control is not possible or is very erratic then the person may not be able to improve without some form of medication for limiting stress.
- Psychiatrists are medical doctors and so they may prescribe medications.
- Psychologists are not medical doctors and do not prescribe medication, but can refer you to the psychiatrists who do.
- Psychiatric Social Workers and other Masters (and in some cases Doctorate) level trained and licensed counseling professionals also do not prescribe medications but practice psychotherapy.
From the Official Guide for Mental Disorders
- Read about the manual: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) which is the diagnostic standard for mental health and legal professionals in the United States. Read more at the official site of the American Psychiatric Association.
- Examine the following list of some typical symptoms for paranoia (a few or several but probably not all of such symptoms may be present in behaviors of a paranoid reacting person) seen in "PPD -- 301.00 Paranoid Personality Disorder, DSM-IV" which is pervasive, long-standing suspicions and generalized mistrust of others [including friends and family] based on DSM-IV Wikipedia:Paranoid_personality_disorder:
- Suspicious - has unfounded suspicions
- Expectation that they will be exploited
- Unreasonably believes others are plotting against him/her
- Self image is easily slighted
- Detachment - reluctant to confide in others
- Preoccupied with unsupported doubts about friends or associates
- Baseless fear that information may be used against him/her
- Baseless fear of the sexual infidelity of a spouse or significant other
- Distrustful - groundless concern that other people have hidden motives
- Reads negative meanings into innocuous remarks
- Social isolation - perceives attacks on his/her reputation that are not clear to others
- Uncooperative inability to work together with others
- Hostility - makes accusations about otherwise minor events
- Is triggered quickly to verbal counterattack based on such perceptions
- Harbors "insults" (bears grudges)
- Complications (possible):
- Extreme social isolation
- Potential for violence
- Suspicious - has unfounded suspicions
- Find Possible Diagnoses:
- Undergo a thorough physical examination and patient history to rule out possible organic causes (such as dementia) or environmental causes (such as extreme stress) in patients with paranoid symptoms.
- If a psychological cause is suspected, a psychologist will conduct an interview with the patient and may administer one of several clinical inventories, or tests, to evaluate mental status.
- Seek Treatment:
- Paranoia that is symptomatic of paranoid schizophrenia, persecutory delusional disorder, or paranoid personality disorder need to be diagnosed by a mental health professional. Antipsychotic medications can not be prescribed by a psychologist who is not a medical doctor, but instead cognitive therapy or psychotherapy may be employed to help the patient cope with paranoia and/or persecutory delusions: and to unload that to someone else, as a relief of the stress, but that may be temporary relief. The person may be able to develop a way of coping (like thinking more positively).
- Antipsychotic medication, however, is of uncertain benefit to individuals with paranoid personality disorder because that is a personality problem (with irrational behavior) not a psychosis, and the such drugs may pose long-term risks without much benefit.
- If an underlying condition, such as depression or drug abuse, is found to be triggering the paranoia, an appropriate course of medication and/or psychosocial therapy is employed to treat the primary disorder.
- Understand about the Prognosis:
- Because of the inherent mistrust felt by paranoid individuals, they may often require being coerced (legally) into entering treatment. As unwilling participants, their recovery may be hampered by efforts to sabotage treatment (for example, not taking medication or not being forthcoming with a therapist), a lack of insight into their own condition, or the belief that the therapist is plotting against them.
- Although it may be with restricted lifestyles [avoiding stress and learning defense mechanisms in place of uncontrolled reactions], some patients with PPD or similarly what is called persecutory delusional disorder (for example the non-bizarre but irrational belief that one is being observed by spies, CIA, or investigative authorities) can often continue to function in society without treatment as long as the behavior is non-bizarre. Bizarre beliefs might include being firmly convinced that a radio is playing in one's mouth (Be sure that it is not, as dental fillings genuinely can pick up radio signals -- this is no myth) --or that ones insides are infested with animal pests for example.
- When a person with such a disorder decides to seek mental health care, the reasoning for getting treatment is usually to decrease negative emotions. The feelings causing pressure for change may be depression, fearfulness, rage, or continual worry caused by living under the spell of delusional beliefs, but it is usually not to change the unusual thoughts themselves. This is because the disorder is most likely not recognized by the one experiencing such persistent disordered thinking.
- Running positive phrases and sentences through ones mind may help. Encourage one to not blame others for any problems! There's no use in it.
- Guide one to purposefully "stash" more good thoughts in ones mind every day. This is the best way to replace the dark force of fear with "force of truth and courage." Below there are examples of positive affirmations (to develop a new way of thinking) and/or using faith which expands on positive beliefs and self-concepts.
- Expect one to change one's own self-talk or thinking and then that will help to change the way of reacting to perceptions. Twelve step programs (EA: Emotions Anonymous is one.) use such ideals and expressing yourself with the help of peers (persons living with similar stress) and seeking higher power. They do not tell one what to believe as a religion does. It's up to each one...
- One may control ones own negative actions—by thinking rightly!
- One may work through feelings and needs of others—by communicating nonviolently, without arguing or judging!
- Help your friend to avoid anger and to not seek revenge: make peace with friends and fellow workers, and to be peaceful, as much as possible, with everyone! "Be a peacemaker: for they find peace." ...
- Point out that one may choose to forgive! and not be angry for more than a few minutes or hours. If possible: "Do not let the sun set on the anger--but make peace within and with others, if possible (and ASAP - as soon as possible..)!" As soon as possible leaves room for checking facts and being rational too.
- Show them how to cause others to be grateful by doing nice little things like opening doors for people, and being courteous. But there is more -- these things may work like a "key" that may possibly unlock some peace of mind.
- Take a breath and acknowledge that 95% of what someone else does has absolutely nothing to do with you. Yes--even if you feel that they've talked about you, misused you or done you other wrongs, still their main concern is not you. It's them. Trust this: realizing that other people with no "investment" in you also have no "interest" in you--and that their activity probably has nothing to do with you--is a big part of forgiving and being less paranoid. So spend extra time with this one idea:
- "Convince yourself that the other person is pretty ignorant when it comes to you and your feelings--and so, you need not worry about them!"
- Admit that the best offense against fear is a good defense. What one dreads is almost always worse than doing the work.
- Do not assume that the other person "knows" what you "know." "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." Even if someone agrees with the stressed out person, that could be just like "humoring" that person as: "There, there honey child. I know! I know..." avoid most of that. It may be condescending or looking down at the other person.
- If he or she is afraid of something imaginary, (like thieves or killers after seeing a scary, gruesome movie) then of course assure yourselves that nothing like that is happening here and never will!
- Encourage thinking about oneself reaching for sure success: and to smile! Help them realize that we all have many good reasons to smile. Positive thinking is proactive; the fearful person has to replace the ongoing fear with good thoughts like those in "A Key" below.
- Tell them to "Visualize yourself in the mind's eye as peacefully overcoming all obstacles, all anger and fear by positive thinking."
A Key Idea
- Purposefully try to adopt new thoughts. Immediately begin repeating positive sayings (mostly to yourself) when you first notice that you're beginning to hear people talking negatively.
- Purposefully consider learning new ways of communicating and thinking. Read these suggestions; then perhaps, memorize and share them.
- "That was then, and this is now! The future is ahead of me!"
- "I will win; I will keep trying; I'll overcome and succeed!"
- "We'll be alright! It'll all work-out okay!"
- "No sweat! Yes I can! ... We can do it!"
- "Others can do it. I can do it! I 'will' do the right thing!"
- "It will all come out in the wash!"
- "It's going to be a great day! I'll do just fine!"
- "Fake it until you make it." (That means believe it, think it and act right...)
- Find your own favorite positive affirmations. Ask other people for positive understandings that help them...
- No one knows if you are positive (or negative) unless you show it or talk about it. Be positive: avoid negativity!
For Christian Believers
- Speak to the rock, but don't strike the rock!... use non-violence in daily life.
- "When you don't feel like praying -- pray! ... " (from the song: "Pray")" Is this your heart now...?]] And, praise others and praise God!
- "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want!" This might be a prayer and a praise!
- "Thank you Lord! Your 'word' is near me, your 'word' is [already] even in my mouth!"
- "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
- "I will NOT fear, for you are with me! ... at my right hand!"
- "I will bless the Lord, and his praise shall continually be in my mouth!"
- "I know I am never alone: the Holy Spirit comforts me and shall be with me forever!"
- "I will lift up my eyes ... My help comes from the Lord who created the heavens and the earth!"
- "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!"
- Learn to speak this kind of belief, and begin to stop worrying as much and start living more positively.
- Develop Christian Faith: Jesus wants to hear it all; even if they have to crawl! Imagine this: that they will be all right when they get to him. Keep your own positive faith alive.
- Know that Jesus promises rewards to those who overcome feelings like being unforgiving: "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you... For if you [only] love those who love you, what reward do you have?" God sacrificed his only son so that you could forgive others and enjoy your life.
- The steps and tips are only suggestions. This positive technique is usually not a cure. It might be great help if one applies those suggestions.
- Don't just seek ones own success, but seek to provide good things for others' benefit!
- When a negative thought or fear shows up, a person has a conscious ability to decide to stop it right then, like "flip the channel" and change it to something positive.
- Just like movies, fears are not real! They're just stories that may be "entertained" in the mind.
- Paranoid reactions do not necessarily lead to auditory delusions and certainly is sometimes be mild.
- Do not accept one's holding negative, angry thoughts: but to express good things no matter how small!
- Delusional thinking that is not repeated too often or very rare "hallucinations" might be dismissed as "overactive imagination," but if it becomes persistent (continuous) then it is probably not "simple" paranoia. There are some complications:
- The persistent (continuing) of delusional thinking (as expressed) and the person's persistent behaviors (as observed) may indicate whether there is a critical problem. Simple paranoia is classified as a "non-progressive" disorder as long as it does not develop into a psychosis (insanity) or incompetence.
- Emphasize positive thinking from common sense and optionally from "Judaeo-Christian" positive statements (in a separate section). Of course, this is not intended to deal with psychotic paranoia (serious, persistent and unrelated to reality),
- If one believes in overcoming and does positive thinking, then courage will flow out from a new way of accepting life! Positive statements and praising others helps lead to feeling that one may "overcome" and be calmer.
- Avoid arguments with strangers (and with acquaintances like fellow workers) about what they may have said--and might have done or failed to do. Don't disturb the peace; even though others might. Help the fearful to be safe and to be sound of mind--positive and making an effort!
- Never join into seeking revenge! Helping an enemy to be better as a person is behaving wisely...
- Never unnecessarily agree with, tell or allow negative talk, expressing ungrounded fears or angry ideas, and especially never demonstrate them (maybe discuss briefly, but discourage that)... Again smile! It takes time and persistence to heal that broken heart, or mind!
- There is high stress on a person who is reacting to the idea or belief that "they're laughing at me, or calling me bad names, or I'm being 'messed' with." Don't pursue that line of thinking...
- Delusions of fear are real to the person saying, "You don't believe me!" Believe this: paranoia is similar to an uncontrolled stream of thoughts in a daydream! But now you know something that may help control those inappropriate actions which begin with inappropriate thoughts. Overcome bad mental hygiene.
- One may find it helpful to avoid criticizing or arguing with critics either real or supposed! Push the limit toward being more positive; NOT thinking or living like negative, irrationally critical people.
What About Psychosis and Serious Disorders
If the behavior is a symptom of a psychosis then positive thinking is of little or no value, because the person could not recognize that the problem exists or deal with it logically. Psychosis and serious disorders are beyond the effectiveness of this article to help. Get professional help.
- A personality syndrome like
- PPD - Paranoid Personality Disorder (life badly affected by nearly continual unfounded suspicions and so do not even trust friends or family for long, and that will get worse and worse the more they are in contact.); or
- Persecutory Delusional Disorder (life seriously affected by nearly continual unreasonable belief of persecution, not just suspicions).
- Disorders in thinking like Alzheimer's caused by "physical" changes in the working of the brain.
- schizophrenia -- 1 : a [persistent] psychotic disorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment [reality], by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life (as behaviors), and by breaking down (disintegration) of personality expressed as:
- disorder of feeling, thought (has delusions), and perception (has hallucinations)
- paranoid schizophrenia -- schizophrenia characterized especially by persecutory or grandiose delusions or hallucinations or by delusional jealousy.
Related Tips and Steps
- How to Stop Being Paranoid
- How to Overcome Fear
- How to Conquer a Fear
- How to Practice Nonviolent Communication
- How to Overcome a Fear of Heights
- Paranoid personality disorder
Sources and Citations
- Definition of paranoia
- Paranoid personality disorder Health Article, from Healthline.
- Delusional disorder
- Paranoid schizophrenia