Our DNA programs us to fear the unknown. Indeed, early human existence depended on a measure of suspicion. Today, this mistrust can still save us from difficulties or life-threatening situations.
When these thoughts become irrational and interfere with your daily life, it becomes a problem. Paranoia, from the Greek meaning a “distracted mind”, is an intense, irrational mindset that isolates and consumes your thoughts. Psychology divides paranoia into three primary mental disorders:
• Paranoid Schizophrenia
• Delusional Disorder
• Paranoid Personality Disorder
WARNING SIGNS OF PARANOIA
With each condition, suspicious feelings are a chief complaint. If left untreated, paranoid disorders can alienate you from others and destroy your life. Here are fifteen warning signs that you may be battling a mistrustful disorder.
1. YOU HAVE PROBLEMS TRUSTING OR BELIEVING ANYONE
It’s normal to be leery when building trust with anyone new in your life. With paranoia, you flip your anxiety into overdrive. So it’s difficult for you to trust loved ones and caring friends you’ve had for years.
You may feel that no matter what they say or do, it’s meant to hurt you. Even acts of kindness may be considered as hidden ways to undermine you. You believe that anything people tell you can’t be trusted.
2. YOU TAKE OFFENSE QUICKLY
We all get furious when someone intentionally makes an offhand remark or does something to hurt us. If you are paranoid, you may question everything your family and friends say. Even when people compliment or say something kind, you wonder if it is a veiled insult.
You may express your anger to the perplexed person and consider him an enemy. These irrational offenses create resentment and a downward spiral into mistrust and hate. You become even more prone to be offended.
3. SKEWED THINKING BLINDS YOU
Delusional thinking goes beyond wishing and fantasy. It’s a firm belief and attitude, no matter how illogical or false it is. People with hallucinations of grandeur often believe they have superhuman powers and are invincible.
In their confusion, they may think they are somebody famous or an immortal. If you are delusional, you might act out your imaginations, causing problems in relationships. Acting out fantasies can also cause legal issues.
4. YOU CAN’T CONFIDE IN OTHERS
Do you have difficulties talking to trusted friends and loved ones about your problems? We all need a sympathetic ear, but a paranoid person rejects confidence. Perhaps you assume that if you talk to someone about issues in your life, he or she will use that information against you.
This self-imposed isolation does no good for any relationship. Not trusting a confidant in your life closes your heart and imprisons you in your mind. It may be a warning sign of a distrustful disorder.
5. YOU HAVE AN AGGRESSIVE PERSONALITY
If you have always been an easy-going person and find yourself more aggressive over time, it may be part of a paranoid dilemma. When people lack trust and build up mental walls, they often feel that they must defend their position.
Do you find yourself being more argumentative and combative in the mildest situations? Maybe friends and family walk on eggshells around you or avoid conversation because you’ve become so confrontational. It may be time to talk to a mental health professional.
6. YOU ARE FASCINATED WITH CONSPIRACY THEORIES
The reason tabloids are so popular is that everyone enjoys a little conspiracy. However, rational people are quick to spot “fake news” and can brush it aside. When your waking hours are consumed with reading and talking about conspiracies and doom, it is no longer healthy.
Review what you watch on television or read on the Internet. Are you hoarding food and survival gear for an apocalypse you are convinced is imminent? Do you spend thousands of dollars on anti-spying equipment to keep Big Brother at bay?
Is your mind tangled with thoughts of secret government plots meant to destroy you? Are you confident that alien beings are controlling your brain or that Big Foot is tracking you? Religious fantasies are often combined with conspiracy theories to create a perfect storm of paranoid havoc.
7. YOU WRECK YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
Since people with paranoid issues can’t trust or believe others, having meaningful, lasting relationships is almost impossible. Relations with loved ones and life-long friends are often strained and become non-existent. If you find this behavior familiar, then you are continually pushing others away.
The break with reality is often a gradual one. As your relationships become more troubled, people may try to bring it to your attention. Their pleas may fall on deaf ears if you are paranoid, and you believe they can’t be trusted.
The life of someone struggling with a paranoid illness is a lonely one.
8. YOU HOLD GRUDGES
When you mix mistrust, fear, and paranoid aggression, it becomes a bitter concoction of grudges. Although it is understandable to be angry for a while with someone who has hurt you, chronic grudge-holding only hurts you. If you have paranoid visions, slights from others may not be reality-based.
Grudges can become volatile when they are turned into revenge. You may harm yourself and others trying to get revenge. Paranoid fantasies can be trouble for everyone close to you.
9. YOU HAVE DELUSIONS OF AN EVIL WORLD
Yes, there are many evils in this world, and we should be cautious and stay safe. However, paranoia can blind you to the beautiful gifts that life offers. Paranoid hallucinations make false claims that everything and everyone in the universe is out for your demise.
The evil world illusion robs people of healthy socialization and enjoying the wonders of nature. Paranoia may whisper in your ear that the outside world wants to destroy. These irrational thoughts are the enemy, not the world.
10. YOU FIGHT THE DELUSION OF PERSECUTION
All the mistrust and suspicion of a paranoid disorder is usually wrapped in the illusion of harassment. You play the victim as everyone gangs up against you to destroy you and everything you own. Your relationships wither because you believe wholeheartedly that everyone has an ulterior motive.
In this mindset, it is easy to think that since everyone is out to get you, so you should get them first. A misapprehension of persecution can be dangerous if it’s mixed with alcohol and drugs. You need professional intervention.
11. YOU WILL NOT COMPROMISE
Is it your way or the highway? Such an attitude can not only ruin you professionally, but it can crush relationships with family and friends. If you are paranoid, you feel that your is the only one that matters.
12. YOU REFUSE CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM
Those who struggle with paranoid issues will take all criticism as a personal attack. Have you noticed that you view even the most helpful suggestions as spiteful? Such feelings may stem from paranoia, and you may consider discussing it with your mental health specialist.
13. YOU ARE ALWAYS PLAYING DEFENSE
Along with the aggression caused by paranoid thinking is the constant need to be in defensive mode. You feel compelled to defend almost everything you think, do, or say. Not only does this symptom exhaust you in a negative fog, but it makes others avoid you.
14. AUDIO OR VISUAL HALLUCINATIONS
The symptoms of paranoia overlap with other serious mental illnesses, such as depression and schizophrenia. Delusions of grandeur are often accompanied by audio or visual hallucinations, which causes the person to see and hear things that aren’t there.
Hearing voices and seeing irrational visions can be frightening and potentially life-threatening. Paranoia fuels the fire with beliefs that the hallucinations are real, and the person must act upon them. Seek professional help immediately with these symptoms.
15. REFUSING TO ACCEPT TREATMENT
Why would people with paranoid problems decline medical intervention? Because of their fallacy of persecution, they often think medical professionals are trying to hurt them. You stop taking their medication because you fear that someone is poisoning you.
You may not realize this symptom if you have a paranoid disorder. In its early stages, it may be more noticeable. Treatment is available to help you get better.
Mental health experts do not fully understand what causes paranoia disorders. Research demonstrates that they often run in families. Along with genetics, experts also believe that the environment and circumstances of each person play a role.
FINAL THOUGHTS: OVERCOMING PARANOIA AND MISTRUSTING DISORDERS
If you or a loved one are dealing with one or more of these symptoms, you don’t have to fight alone. While there are no miracle cures for paranoia and fallacy disorders, medication and therapy can significantly reduce the symptoms. You can win the battle and continue a productive life with meaningful relationships.
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