Just Suspicious Or Having Paranoid Personality Disorder? Here's How To Distinguish

Someone with a paranoid personality disorder is pervasively suspicious of others, holds grudges, and has the inability to confide in others

Shubhangi Shah
Written by: Shubhangi ShahPublished at: Oct 10, 2021
Just Suspicious Or Having Paranoid Personality Disorder? Here's How To Distinguish

Have you come across someone who is deeply suspicious of others? Someone, who finds it difficult to confide in others, or holds grudges and finds it difficult to forgive. Although none of us can trust everyone around us. All of us face situations where we get suspicious. These are common personality traits. However, some people suffer from a specific personality disorder, due to which they display the above-mentioned traits. It is called paranoid personality disorder.

However, sometimes it gets difficult to distinguish if a person is suspicious in general or is suffering from this condition. This is especially crucial as it can affect a person’s daily life. It can also be difficult to seek medical help as those who have this disoder might find it difficult to confide in the doctor. Hence, to know more about it, Onlymyhealth spoke to Dr Jyoti Kapoor, Sr Consultant - Psychiatry, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.

Explaining personality disorders in general, Dr Kapoor said that these are “characterised by maladaptive patterns of thinking, functioning and behaving, which causes significant problems in a person’s social, occupational and social life.” Hence, paranoid personality disorder, as the name suggests, manifests as a thought pattern that is largely “distrustful or paranoid.” Before delving into the distinction between general suspicion and paranoid personality disorder, let’s know some of its symptoms.

Symptoms Of Paranoid Personality Disorder

In paranoid personality disorder, a person is pervasively suspicious of others

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  • Pervasive distrust and suspicion of others
  • Inability to confide in others due to unreasonable fear of being cheated on or harmed
  • Tendency to blame others for insulting or deliberately causing harm in the absence of real evidence
  • Tendency to read hidden meaning in innocent remarks
  • Hold grudges and therefore have significantly disturbed relationships
  • Anger
  • Hostility

How To Distinguish If A Person Is Suspicious In General Or Has Paranoid Personality Disorder?

According to Dr Kapoor, the disorder “tends to appear during adolescence or early adulthood and manifests a pervasive pattern of suspiciousness which is same in differed situations and with different people.” Often there is no justifiable reason to feel threatened or betrayed by others. Another person can very clearly notice the exaggerated belief.

On the other hand, most of us get suspicious in scenarios that are threatening or if we were harmed by someone in the recent past. Thus, such suspicious tendency is just circumstantial and goes away when evidence to the contrary is produced. It also automatically dissipates over time.

Also read: Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Know Symptoms, Reason And Cure

Reasons Behind Paranoid Personality Disorder

Personality disorders arise from a combination of biological and psychological factors. Here are some of the possible reasons behind this disorder:

  • It’s common among those whose close relatives suffer from schizophrenia or delusional disorders.
  • Physical or emotional trauma during childhood.
  • Substance disorders especially long term abuse of alcohol
  • It’s more common in men as compared to women.

How Is A Person’s Day-To-Day Life Affected?

Someone with paranoid personality disorder is generally stressed out and anxious

(Photo Credit: Freepik)

A person’s day-to-day life is impacted. Here’s how:

  • Those with this disorder are often anxious and stressed out.
  • They are unable to confide in others and therefore feel lonely and victimised.
  • They can get aggressive, which further complicates their social interactions. 
  • They may often turn to alcohol or other drugs to relax as they are unable to do so otherwise, which further worsens symptoms of paranoia and mood swings.

Is It A Rare Disorder Or Is Rarely Talked About?

People with personality disorders often don’t seek medical help as they think they do not need it. It’s often diagnosed when the personality issues cause other major psychiatric illnesses like anxiety or mood disorders. Still, paranoid personality disorders are most common among diagnosed personality disorder cases with an estimated prevalence rate of 2.4% to 4.4%, Dr Kapoor said.

Also read: What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder? Know Symptoms And Treatment Options

What Is The Treatment Like?

Earlier diagnosis is crucial to ensure treatment. Symptoms can be noticed by family members, peers, and even teachers, in the case of an adolescent child. The treatment, in general, depends on the severity of the disorder and comorbidity conditions. Psychotherapy is the primary treatment. Medicines can also be prescribed. 

(With inputs from Dr Jyoti Kapoor, Sr Consultant - Psychiatry, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram)