Paranoid Personality Disorder – Overview & Treatment

Most everyone has had reason to be suspicious of another’s intentions, motives or actions at some time or another. Everyday societal norms and customs provide people with a baseline or context in which to gauge acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. For someone living with paranoid personality disorder, most every person and situation warrants suspicion. Societal norms and customs rather take a backseat when paranoid personality disorder is at work.

As with most every personality disorder, paranoid personality traits take root at an early age in a person’s life. This can make treatment a difficult process. Depending on a person’s overall psychological state, psychotherapy and medication therapy treatments are commonly used to treat paranoid personality disorder.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

Someone affected by paranoid personality disorder has developed a long-term pattern of suspicion and distrust towards others, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. While the paranoid traits that make up this disorder somewhat resemble those of someone with paranoid schizophrenia, people suffering from paranoid personality disorder do not lost touch with reality, unlike those affected by schizophrenia.

For someone with paranoid personality disorder, this pervasive sense of suspicion and distrust leaves a person feeling unsafe or always in danger to the point where he or she will look for proof to verify said claims. As personality disorders typically alter a person’s overall perceptions of self and others, people with paranoid personality traits don’t realize their perceptions are way out of proportion to their circumstances.

Signs and symptoms associated with paranoid personality disorder include:

paranoid disorder

Paranoid personality can cause debilitating feelings of paranoia and suspicion.

  • Detachment
  • Aggression
  • Minimal sense of humor, if any
  • Social isolation
  • Difficulty working with others
  • Defensiveness
  • Assumes he or she will be taken advantage of by others

The symptoms that make up the disorder also make it very difficult to treat paranoid personality disorder, as feelings of suspicion and distrust “naturally” apply for doctors and therapists as well.

Psychotherapy Treatment

As people affected by paranoid personality disorder rarely seek out treatment, knowledge regarding which treatments prove most effective is somewhat limited. Considering a person’s way of perceiving self and others plays a central role in this disorder, psychotherapy treatment approaches can often provide needed support and guidance.

Building trust within the therapy relationship is essential to helping someone with this condition work through his or her paranoid ideations. Therapists experienced in working with paranoid personality disorder stand the best chance of maintaining the type of trust and rapport needed to encourage ongoing participation in the treatment process.

Medication Therapy

Medication therapies may be warranted under certain circumstances, but generally tend to arouse suspicion and distrust in someone dealing with paranoid personality disorder. It’s not uncommon for a person to refuse to take prescribed medications and even drop out of treatment altogether.

Medication therapies are best tolerated in cases involving severe anxiety symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to function in everyday life. Anti-anxiety medications can help alleviate these symptoms.

When warranted, any medication regimen should be administered on a short-term basis to prevent feelings of suspicion and distrust from surfacing. Ultimately, keeping the person engaged in the treatment process should take top priority.

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