What Is Paranoid Personality Disorder?

What Is Paranoid Personality Disorder?

Paranoid personality disorder or PPD affects 2.3% to 4.4% of the U.S. population. For those dealing with the condition, symptoms can interfere with relationships, work and other aspects of life. Fortunately, treatment can make a difference. Read on to learn more about PPD and how to help paranoid personality disorder.

What Are Personality Disorders?

Personality disorders are mental health disorders that affect how a person behaves, thinks and feels. There are 10 different ones, including paranoid personality disorder or PPD, and approximately 9% of adults in the United States have one or more of them.

Although they fall under the category of mental health disorders, personality disorders are different from other mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. There are no U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medications for personality disorders, so treatment usually centers on talk therapy.

Also, people generally lack awareness about personality disorders. As a result, they may interpret behaviors of individuals suffering from them as intentional or malicious, not understanding that someone with a personality disorder may not be able to control their actions. This lack of understanding can make it hard for those with personality disorders to receive support from loved ones and accommodations from schools and employers.

What Is Paranoid Personality Disorder?

Paranoid personality disorder is a personality disorder marked by a feeling of distrust or suspicion about other people. Individuals coping with paranoid personality disorder often believe those around them mean to harm or hurt them, even when they have no reason to think so. Consequently, people with PPD may feel the need to be wary and constantly on guard to protect themselves.

What Are the Symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder?

Some signs and symptoms people with paranoid personality disorder may exhibit include:

  • Questioning the loyalty and commitment of others
  • Accusing people of deceiving or manipulating them without cause
  • Bottling things up rather than discussing thoughts and feelings out of fear their emotions will be used against them
  • Being reluctant to forgive and holding grudges
  • Not responding well to criticism
  • Looking for hidden meanings in the words of others
  • Harboring suspicions that romantic partners are unfaithful or that others are conspiring against them
  • Acting distant and cold in relationships
  • Becoming controlling over loved ones
  • Feeling tense or restless
  • Growing hostile, argumentative and stubborn in the face of even minor conflict

Typically, a person needs to display several of the above traits and have developed symptoms prior to early adulthood to be diagnosed with PPD.

How Does Paranoid Personality Disorder Compare to Other Personality Disorders?

Paranoid personality disorder is similar to some other personality disorders, including schizotypal and schizoid disorders. All three conditions cause people to avoid forming attachments to others, but the motivations are different.

With schizoid personality disorder, individuals have limited relationships because they’re disinterested in others rather than suspicious of them. Those with schizotypal personality disorder struggle to connect with others due to superstitions, rituals, distorted beliefs and other traits that people coping with paranoid personality disorder don’t engage in or hold.

What Are the Causes of and Risk Factors for Paranoid Personality Disorder?

Scientists have yet to determine the exact cause of PPD. However, it seems there are both genetic and environmental factors at play. If one of your close relatives struggles with PPD, you’re more likely to develop the condition. There’s also evidence to suggest that having a relative with schizophrenia or schizotypal personality disorder may raise the risk of developing paranoid personality disorder.

Beyond genetics, other risk factors for PPD include:

  • Gender. PPD is more common in men than in women.
  • Race. Black, indigenous and Hispanic people experience PPD at higher rates than people of other races.
  • Marital status. PPD is most common among individuals who are widowed, are divorced or have never married.

Many people who have PPD experienced physical and/or emotional neglect and abuse as children. It’s possible that not being able to trust caregivers during childhood leads those who develop PPD to have difficulty feeling safe in relationships with other people during adolescence and young adulthood.

How to Help Paranoid Personality Disorder

Treatment can help those suffering from paranoid personality disorder. Unfortunately, many don’t seek treatment on their own. Most often, it takes the ongoing encouragement of family members, romantic partners, coworkers and other individuals to motivate someone with the condition to get help.

Usually, treatment for PPD involves talk therapy with a licensed mental health professional. Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is one of the most effective forms of therapy for the condition. Through this type of therapy, people with PPD develop coping skills and learn to see how their past experiences impact their feelings, thoughts and behaviors in the present.

How successful talk therapy for PPD is depends largely on how receptive those with the condition are to it. Due to their tendency to distrust, people with the condition may need longer to build a rapport with their therapist and feel comfortable opening up about their issues.

An estimated 75% of people with PPD also have a second personality disorder, such as borderline personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder. In addition, they’re at a greater risk for panic disorder and substance use disorder than those without PPD. As a result, treatment often involves addressing other underlying conditions along with paranoid personality disorder.

In most cases, doctors don’t prescribe medications to treat PPD. However, they might recommend drugs for treating conditions that occur alongside paranoid personality disorder. For example, a person who has PPD and panic disorder may take benzodiazepines to reduce panic attacks or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants or antipsychotics to ease symptoms of anxiety.

Paranoid Personality Disorder Help Is Available

If you’re ready to make a change and improve your relationships, the first step is to seek paranoid personality disorder help. The team of mental health professionals at Restore has experience treating PPD and other mental health personality disorders and can create a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options.