Paranoid schizophrenia is the most common form of schizophrenia, a type of brain disorder. Not everyone with schizophrenia will develop paranoia. However, paranoia is a significant symptom. Paranoid Schizophrenia is characterized by predominantly positive symptoms of schizophrenia, including delusions and hallucinations. These debilitating symptoms blur the line between what is real and what isn’t, making it difficult for the person to lead a typical life.
It’s important to be able to recognize early symptoms of it so you can seek treatment and improve your quality of life.
People with paranoid delusions are unreasonably suspicious of others. This can make it hard for them to hold a job, run errands, have friendships, and even go to the doctor.
Delusions are fixed beliefs that seem real to you, even when there’s strong evidence they aren’t. Paranoid delusions, also called delusions of persecution, reflect profound fear and anxiety along with the loss of the ability to tell what’s real and what’s not real.
They might make you feel like:
• A co-worker is trying to hurt you, like poisoning your food.
• Your spouse or partner is cheating on you.
• The government is spying on you.
• People in your neighborhood are plotting to harass you.
These beliefs can cause trouble in your relationships. And if you think that strangers are going to hurt you, you may feel like staying inside or being alone.
People with schizophrenia aren’t usually violent. But sometimes, paranoid delusions can make them feel threatened and angry. If someone is pushed over the edge, their actions usually focus on family members, not the public, and it happens at home.
You could also have related hallucinations, in which your senses aren’t working right. For example, you may hear voices that make fun of you or insult you.
Causes and Risk Factors –
The precise cause of schizophrenia with paranoia isn’t known. Schizophrenia itself can run in families, so there’s a possibility that the condition is genetic. However, not everyone with a family member who has schizophrenia will develop the disorder. And not everyone who develops schizophrenia will have symptoms of paranoia.
Other risk factors for the condition include:
• brain abnormalities
• childhood abuse
• low oxygen levels at birth
• separation or loss of a parent at a young age
• virus exposure during infancy or before birth
When schizophrenia is diagnosed, antipsychotic medication is most typically prescribed. This can be given as a pill, a patch, or an injection. There are long-term injections that have been developed which could eliminate the problems of a patient not regularly taking their medication (called “medication noncompliance”). This is a common concern in schizophrenia because of the symptom of anosognosia. Anosognosia is the lack of insight and an unawareness of the presence of a disorder. Someone with schizophrenia may not recognize that their behavior, hallucinations, or delusions are unusual or unfounded. This can cause a person to stop taking antipsychotic medication, stop participating in therapy, or both, which can result in a relapse into active phase psychosis.
Psychotherapy also plays an important role in the treatment of schizophrenia. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to help patients develop and retain social skills, alleviate comorbid anxiety and depression symptoms, cope with trauma in their past, improve relationships with family and friends, and support occupational recovery.
If the patient is a danger to himself or others and is unwilling to seek treatment, they can be involuntarily committed to a hospital and held for a period of evaluation usually lasting three to seven days. A court order is required for involuntary commitment to be extended.
Film and news media have characterized schizophrenia as a violent condition, however, the majority of people with schizophrenia are not violent.
How to cope?
Managing paranoid schizophrenia requires self-care. Do your best to follow these tips:
• Manage your stress levels. Avoid situations that increase stress and anxiety. Make sure to invest in time for yourself to relax. You can read, meditate, or take a leisurely walk.
• Eat a healthy diet. Plant-based foods and nonpackaged items can increase your energy levels and make you feel better.
• Exercise regularly. Staying physically active increases serotonin, the “feel good” chemical in your brain.
• Maintain social events. Keeping social commitments will help decrease isolation, which can worsen your symptoms.
• Get adequate sleep. A lack of sleep can worsen paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations in people with schizophrenia.
• Avoid unhealthy behaviors, including smoking, alcohol consumption, and drug abuse.
Supporting a loved one –
It can be difficult to know how to support a loved one who is living with schizophrenia and experiences paranoid delusions. If your loved one is experiencing this symptom, it may be scary or confusing and you may find it challenging to help them—especially if they believe that others are trying to harm them or if they are extremely withdrawn.
It is important to understand that schizophrenia is a biological illness and that a long-term treatment plan is essential for a successful recovery.4 Be aware that paranoid delusions will seem very real to those experiencing them.
You can support your loved one by encouraging them to stay in treatment, which should help them to manage their symptoms and recover sufficiently to lead a happy and healthy life.
Educational programs and support groups can help you understand positive symptoms, including paranoia. These programs can increase your ability to cope with your loved one’s illness and strengthen your capacity to help them effectively.
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