At times we all have anxious or suspicious thoughts, about ourselves or about other’s intentions, behaviour or feelings towards us. To some degree this is an important and healthy aspect of being able to look after ourselves and our safety.
For some people however, these thoughts can become exaggerated, fixed and distressing. Over time they may become part of a wider set of ideas or beliefs about the world around them, which might include worries about groups or organisations having a collective hostility towards them. This causes anxious and distrustful feelings and can have a negative impact on relationships, work and every day life, as people feel more defensive, hostile or aggressive.
For some people it can be difficult to know whether these thoughts and worries are realistic or paranoid. Where these thoughts become established and cause fear and upset which interferes with daily life, where there is no definite evidence for the suspicion or where few if any other people share your view, an important first step can be to talk to your GP.
People with a tendency towards paranoid thoughts experience this in different ways, but might struggle with:
- Creating or maintaining steady relationships
- Hypervigilance, constantly assessing potential threats around
- Worry about being tricked or taken advantage of
- Find it hard to compromise of accept criticism
Some things which might help are:
- keeping a diary to identify what might be contributing to your worries, to track how often suspicious thoughts occur and notice the impact they have on you.
- try to develop a flexible mindset – for example considering the possibility that what you think is true may not be true, so that you can consider what alternative perspectives there could be. You could consider asking other people who you trust to help you think about alternative possibilities.
- Over-worrying can be associated with sleep difficulties, and being tired can make paranoia worse. You may find it helpful to get professional help with any difficulties in sleeping that you are experiencing.
- It can also be very helpful to engage in activities that you find meaningful, enjoyable and purposeful, to give your mind and body satisfying tasks to be absorbed in. This can help to reduce the scope for paranoid thoughts to begin or to become troubling and distressing.
- If you think you might be experiencing paranoid thoughts, avoid alcohol and any ‘street’ or recreational drugs. Both alcohol and ‘street’ drugs can make paranoia more intense and may increase the risk of developing more serious mental health problems that can be associated with paranoia.
How we can help with Paranoia
If you feel that suspicious thoughts are happening often or are becoming more frequent; if these thoughts are upsetting you or those around you or are impacting on your ability to go about your day-to-day life, then you may find it helpful to reach out to a professional for support. You should contact your GP in the first instance who can advise you on treatment options, including whether talking therapy is likely to be helpful for you.
Our team of expert therapists can work with you to develop a clear plan to understand and address the symptoms and difficulties you are experiencing, to help you live your life with more happiness and freedom, and without paranoia controlling your life. For new clients who have current or recent experience of paranoia, we will discuss with you additional support options that may be helpful and your GP’s involvement in your care.
To access our service you will need to complete a self referral form by clicking this link. https://theretreatclinics.org.uk/adult-self-referral-form-for-general-therapies-services/