Our personalities are a combination of complex and different traits. Our genetic makeup and upbringing both play an important role in shaping our personality. Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD) is a condition that can be hereditary as well as the result of growing up in an unsafe environment in childhood.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) includes PPD under Cluster A personality disorders.
What is Paranoid Personality Disorder?
If you know someone with PPD, you may have experienced suspicion, mistrust, and lack of interest in others from them. PPD is characteristic of dysfunctional thinking and behavioural patterns.
If you have PPD, you are likely to start experiencing symptoms and showing signs by late teens or early adulthood. This condition is more common in men than in women. 
When you suffer from PPD, you may severely restrict your social life since you often interpret the motives and actions of others as malicious or harmful.
Since PPD is not a full-blown psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia, you can employ self-help strategies to manage symptoms and improve the quality of your mental well-being.
Symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder
If you know someone with PPD, you might have observed that they often do not realize that their behavior is not ordinary. If you suffer from PPD, you may experience people expressing that your behavior towards them is hostile, stubborn, and unwarranted. Additionally, you may be experiencing the following symptoms:
- Distrust: You believe that others are trying to deceive or exploit you, so you doubt their commitment, loyalty, or trustworthiness 
- Hypervigilance: You’re always on the lookout for hidden motives and threats from others
- Reluctance to confide: You’re afraid to reveal personal information because you believe others will use it against you
- Bearing grudges: You’re unable to forgive or forget and have difficulty seeing the role you play in a conflict
- Anger and hostility: You’re often irritated, defensive, or argumentative when you feel threatened
If this sounds like you, understand that these symptoms are just manifestations of feeling unsafe within yourself. With awareness and the right support, it is possible to manage these symptoms and lead a mentally healthy life.
Causes of Paranoid Personality Disorder
Our personalities are a result of our nature and nurture. Our biological and environmental makeup. Our genetics and early life experiences.
If personality disorders such as PPD run in your family, you may be more likely to develop them. Imbalances in our neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, can also play a role in the development of PPD. 
If you grew up in an unstable, unpredictable, or unsupportive environment, along with emotional or physical abuse and neglect, it may lead to the development of PPD in adolescence or early adulthood. 
The exact cause of PPD is unknown, but it is believed to be an interplay between all these factors—biological, environmental, and psychological.
Effects of Paranoid Personality Disorder
Living with PPD can have an impact on our personal as well as professional lives. At its core, it impacts the way we perceive ourselves, others, and life situations. Some common effects of PPD include:
- Feeling emotionally distressed: You are constantly vigilant and suspicious of others, which makes you feel anxious and depressed.
- Experiencing social isolation: You distrust people and distance yourself from them and end up feeling isolated and lonely.
- Conflict in relationships: Sometimes, you can be hypersensitive and misinterpret innocent words and actions as threats, which can lead to conflicts with the people you care about 
- Difficulties related to work and employment: You don’t trust your coworkers or superiors either, so it leads to more conflict and instability, and hence, it can become increasingly difficult for you to maintain steady employment.
As humans, we’re social creatures. We thrive when we have a sense of belonging and when we feel seen and heard. Hence, it can be extremely challenging to experience these symptoms.
Treatment of Paranoid Personality Disorder
If you suffer from PPD, you may struggle to seek help or treatment for your symptoms as you might be suspicious of others’ intent.
- It is possible to get past this distrust and get the right treatment you require through the support of your family, friends, and close ones. By consulting a mental health professional, you can create the best treatment plan for yourself.
- Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), is an effective way to help you identify thought patterns and beliefs that are not serving you and replace them with more realistic and positive narratives. 
- A therapist can also help you develop healthy coping skills, improve your self-esteem and communication, and the way you interact socially.
- Prescription of medication is not common for PPD. However, your healthcare provider may prescribe antidepressants or mood stabilizers to alleviate your symptoms.
- Along with these options, implementing self-help strategies can go a long way in managing your PPD symptoms and well-being.
Self-help Strategies for Paranoid Personality Disorder
Self-help strategies for PPD are most effective when combined with professional treatment. With these strategies, it is easier to manage your condition in your daily life. Some things you can do to self-manage your symptoms are:
- Develop self-awareness and educate yourself: Get in touch with and identify your feelings. Understand how they show up in your body. Reflect on what you truly need to create a feeling of safety. Be determined to make healthy and positive changes in life.
- Keep a diary for journaling: Record your thoughts and feelings. Identify triggers and unhealthy patterns.
- Challenge unhealthy thought patterns: Create a clear distinction between rational concerns and irrational paranoia by asking yourself if there’s any evidence to support your thoughts and beliefs.
- Practice mindfulness and self-care: Learn to relax and take care of your lifestyle habits, such as sleeping, eating, and exercising. Practice meditation and relaxation exercises to reduce anxiety.
- Develop social connections and a support system: Engaging in social activities and going against your instinct to be suspicious of others can be helpful. Seeking the support of friends, family, and loved ones can be very comforting.
The DSM-5 classifies paranoid personality disorder as a personality disorder. The exact cause of PPD is unknown, but we know that it is a combination of our genetic factors and childhood experiences such as neglect and abuse.
With PPD, you may experience a general mistrust in the intentions of others. You may also struggle with being hypervigilant, reluctant to confide in others, and bearing grudges.
Living with PPD can be challenging as it can make you feel distressed, disconnected, and isolated. This can affect your relationships as well as work.
With the right course of treatment, it is possible to manage the symptoms of PPD and improve your mental health and well-being. CBT, medication, and self-help strategies combined are an effective way to manage PPD.
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