Paranoia is a distrust in others or a feeling of being persecuted that may be categorized as unrealistic. An extreme state of being paranoid may result in a mental health condition. People struggling with paranoia, may wonder how to stop being paranoid. Within this article, We describe what is paranoia, the differences between being paranoid and anxious thoughts, how to deal with paranoia, etc. The goal within this article is to help you find ways on how to stop being paranoid.
What Is Paranoia?
Paranoia is a persistent feeling that you are being threatened in some way, such as feeling as though people may be out to get you or that you are subject to intrusive attention from others. This may cause mistrust of other individuals and may make it difficult for the person struggling with paranoia to function wholly within the world. They may struggle when it comes to social situations or even having close relationships with others.
Paranoia does not have a known origin, but it is believed to have a genetic factor.
The symptoms of paranoia range from mild to severe and depend on the cause, but usually a paranoid person has symptoms such as:
- Difficulty in trusting others
- Becoming easily offended
- Difficulty in coping with any type of criticism
- Assigning harmful meanings to the remarks that other people make
- Always on the defense/ very defensive
- Difficulty in compromising
- Usually hostile, argumentative, and aggressive
- Assuming that people talk badly of them behind their backs
- Difficulty in “forgiving and forgetting”
- Becoming overly suspicious of others’ intentions or others in general
- Difficulty in confiding in others
- Difficulty in building relationships with others
- Feelings of being persecuted by the world
- Considers the world as a constant threat
- Belief in unfounded conspiracy theories
There are three main types of paranoia which include delusional (formerly paranoid) disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and paranoid schizophrenia.
What is the difference between paranoia and anxious thoughts?
Becoming anxious can be normal at times. One may be anxious when they have to engage in public speaking or during hard events such as ending a relationship or friendship. One may also feel a form of social anxiety where they worry about what others think of them and judge how they may dress or behave.
A paranoid thought is a type of anxious thought. It may be normal to also have a paranoid thought from time to time, such as worrying whether or not someone is talking about you. Of course this does not necessarily mean that you have a mental illness, it just means you are paranoid.
Clinical paranoia means that you are a hundred percent convinced that someone is talking about you behind your back even if there are not facts to uphold your claim.
According to the National Institute of Health, there is a difference between anxious and suspicious thinking. Paranoia can be conceptualized as a type of anxious fear. Research found that participants' levels of depression, worry, anxiety, and interpersonal sensitivity had some more relationships to both those who had social anxiety and those who were paranoid.
It is important to talk to your doctor about feelings of paranoia or anxiety that last a long time, or get in the way of your daily life. Symptoms of paranoia may be more severe than symptoms of anxiety but both are important to talk to your doctor about if they last a long time.
How to Deal with Paranoia
There are many different treatments for paranoia or feeling paranoid. The first thing one can do to help decrease it is eating a more balanced diet/being healthier. One can also increase their exercise and sleep. This helps one’s mental health.
Another thing that can help with paranoia is replacing negative thinking such as calling yourself “crazy,” or paranoid, but instead saying something like “I am worried about something, that is very unlikely to be true.” These are some ways that individuals can provide themselves some self-care and help their mental health.
Individuals should also talk to a professional, whether a psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, etc. Talk therapy or other kinds of treatment may be beneficial. It is important to talk to someone about the intrusive thoughts that you may be having with someone that you trust, whether it is a family member, friend, or a health professional.
There are other things that an individual can try when reducing their paranoia, such as learning to reduce stress, adapting to healthy habits, facing uncomfortable feelings, training your mind, etc.
Learn to Reduce Anxiety
Anxiety can induce paranoia. For a paranoid person, it is important to reduce your stressful events. There are many different ways to help you reduce anxiety. It is important to practice these habits everyday, but only commit yourself to one habit before moving on to another to find what best helps you when reducing anxiety.
There are a few different things that you can try to help you reduce your anxiety.
- Meditate - Meditating can help to reduce stress and control one's anxiety through self-awareness. Meditation helps to direct your thoughts toward more healthier avenues. During meditation is it important for individuals to take their intrusive thoughts and turn them into a more positive thought.
- Increase your exercise - Exercise is important when trying to better the mental health of yourself. Exercise increases the production of neurotransmitters. Merge transmitters are how brains communicate our feelings and emotions. Endorphins are increased through exercise which provide positive feelings and reduced feelings of pain. Something as simple as a walk or even a jog 4 to 5 times a week is more than enough to help provide the benefits of exercising. This exercise can help with decreasing anxiety which then will help with lessening paranoia symptoms.
- Reduce your caffeine intake - Caffeine is a stimulant which can cause anxiety. Although caffeine can help jump-start your day it can also make someone anxious. Reducing your caffeine intake can also reduce your anxiety levels which then can help with the symptoms of paranoia. Finding ways to decrease your caffeine intake is important. Try tea or lemon-water!
- Better your relationships - It is important to reach out to those you trust. It is important to seek help and find someone to talk to to help ease your mind. This can be a loved one, a friend, or a health professional. Talking to someone who is a professional is very beneficial especially when it comes to therapy.
Adapt Healthy Habits
Creating and adapting healthier habits may help to reduce paranoia. It is important to get enough sleep when trying to reduce paranoid symptoms. Sleep is crucial for one's mental health and has a huge impact on one's emotional well-being. It takes 21 days to develop a habit and to continue that habit. Try getting at least 8 hours of sleep for 21 days to see if that helps.
Exercise is also important, as previously stated within this article. Try exercising 4 to 5 times a week for three weeks and see if that helps to decrease your paranoid symptoms. If this is the case, continue to adjust and adapt to these new healthy habits.
Other things that you can do is keep a diary of your paranoid thoughts, how these paranoid thoughts make you feel, how often you get these thoughts, etc. You could also keep a diary that discusses your sleep schedule and see if your paranoid thoughts correlate all with how much sleep you're getting or how much quality sleep you are getting.
Using drugs is not beneficial when experiencing symptoms of paranoia. Drugs can increase one’s state of paranoia and it can also worsen the symptoms. It is important to steer clear of any drugs that may make you jittery or anxious.
Talk to your doctor about prescriptions and whether or not they are increasing your symptoms of paranoia. Refrain from taking illicit drugs, and also seek out a health professional to help you to end your drug use.
Face Uncomfortable Feelings
When experiencing symptoms of paranoia, it can be beneficial to become resilient to uncomfortable feelings and also to improve your tolerance for these feelings. Feeling uncomfortable is something that no one wants to go through, but it is not always avoidable. It is important to find ways to cope with these uncomfortable feelings, but also to recognize that there are going to be times that you feel uncomfortable. To give an example, although individuals believe that they should not put on a “poor me” beliefs/persona, in which they feel as though they do not deserve to be persecuted, it is known to help with stopping stressful feelings.
Here are a few steps to help you to be more tolerable of your uncomfortable feelings.
- Step 1. Pause and breathe - It is important to not act upon your uncomfortable feelings right away, but to pause and breathe through these feelings. Take deep breaths.
- Step 2. Acknowledge Your Feelings - Think about what you are feeling and be able to put a name to it whether you're feeling sad or angry or upset. Whatever you're feeling is, acknowledge that you are okay in feeling that way.
- Step 3. Think - Now that you acknowledge your feelings and have put a name to them, think of ways that you can help make yourself feel better. Maybe think of ways that you have reduced your anxiety in the past
- Step 4. Help - After you have thought about ways to make yourself feel better, take action to make yourself feel better. It may also be beneficial for you to reach out to someone during this stage whether it be a loved one, trusted individual, or a health professional.
Train Your Mind
Like this article previously stated, it is important for you to train your mind when it comes to paranoia. Confronting your suspicious thoughts, or uncomfortable thoughts is crucial. Stated previously, you may be able to confront your thoughts by writing them down in a journal. Once you write down your thoughts it's important to understand how these thoughts make you feel.
Keeping a journal can help you see patterns. You could also write down what may have happened that caused these thoughts to appear. Finding patterns can be a way that you find ways to stop these thoughts from occurring.
It is also important to practice rational thoughts. When an irrational thought comes about within our brain we have to ask ourselves if this thought is true. And if so, how can we cope with this uncomfortable thought that we may be having.
If it's not true we need to ask ourselves how we react when we experience an irrational thought. What emotions do we have when we experience this thought. When we ruminate on this thought, how do your actions change? What ways could you change this thought? Could you let this thought go?
Changing the way you think and act can be difficult, especially when trying to do it alone without additional help. Although it is important to recognize that you may not at first feel comfortable when seeking out help due to having paranoia symptoms, it is crucial that you find ways to overcome these symptoms in speaking to someone who is a professional.
Therapy can make this journey of changing your irrational thoughts easier because you're not relying on yourself to know when the thought is completely irrational. There are many different forms of therapy and different therapeutic techniques. A therapist may use it to help you overcome these uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. If you feel uncomfortable meeting with someone in person, online therapy is a very comfortable and a private way to seek help.
The Bottom Line
Overall, we have discussed many different things regarding paranoia, all in relation to how to stop being paranoid. Within this article we describe what paranoia is and how it relates to anxiety. We also describe many different ways to help combat these paranoid thoughts and feelings.
If you feel like you are struggling to overcome paranoid thoughts, seeking help from a trusted medical professional can make the journey of overcoming these thoughts much easier. If you are interested in online therapy, we are here to help. Please reach out to us to get started in overcoming these thoughts.