Fear is an important feeling – it keeps us safe! Paranoia refers to fears that are exaggerated or are not justified. For example, feeling unsafe and fearful walking through a deserted car park at night is natural and can keep us on our guard – even if there’s nothing to be worried about, we’ll be alert and focused on getting us where we need to be. Once the situation has passed, we feel okay again. Believing that everyone we know is involved in an elaborate plot to have us arrested, making us constantly look for evidence and signs of suspicious behaviour is different - this is what’s referred to as paranoia.
If no-one else believes a person’s fears, paranoia can become worse – it might feel as though everyone’s involved in whatever the person believes is going on.
Paranoia is actually quite common – many of us will at some time have an unjustified belief that something is ‘going on’, but this doesn’t often last long or have a big impact on our lives. For a small group of people though, worries and fears can become so persistent and so deeply held that life becomes incredibly difficult.
Things like medication and psychological therapy can help with paranoia and there are also things that people can do to help themselves. For example, paranoia can get worse when people are tired, so getting a good night’s sleep can help. Some people also find meditation and mindfulness techniques useful.
Real Life Experience
If you'd like to share your experience of paranoia, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.