What is paranoia?
Paranoia refers to obsessive suspicious thoughts that cause the individual to become disconnected from reality. It is a symptom of many mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and paranoid personality disorder.
How common is paranoia?
Most people experience a paranoid thought at least once in their life, usually more than once. However, these passing thoughts or worries do not qualify clinically as paranoia. Paranoia is a very common symptom of psychotic disorders and other disorders, including bipolar disorder and paranoid personality disorder.
What is the difference between social anxiety and paranoia?
Some people mistake social anxiety for paranoia. Social anxiety is a feeling of worry over interacting in social situations. Socially anxious thoughts could include things like, "they probably don't like me" or "I bet they talk about me behind my back". If the anxiety interferes with your ability to function, you might qualify for a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder (SAD).
Paranoia, on the other hand, causes someone to lose touch with reality. Paranoia could include the fixed belief (rather than the anxiety or worry) that others are plotting against you in a way that affects your behavior. Paranoia can include more bizarre beliefs, such the belief that the government is spying on you.
Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder can cause severe paranoid delusions.
Paranoia can be a symptom of manic and hypomanic episodes in bipolar I and bipolar II disorders, respectively.
Paranoia is a feature of personality disorders, especially paranoid personality disorder and borderline personality disorder.
Severe cases of anxiety disorders can cause paranoid ideation that goes beyond what is normally seen in anxiety but does not go so far as to cause paranoid delusions.
Paranoia can be caused by substance abuse or negative reactions to recreational drug use.
Other medical conditions such as dementia and traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause paranoid symptoms.