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WHAT IS PARANOID PERSONALITY DISORDER?

Psst. Over here. You'll never believe what that Men Tell Health site said about Paranoid Personality Disorder. You really should read it. Oh wait, you are! Good for you!

Joking aside (I didn't agree to that - Editor) Paranoid Personality Disorder is a serious mental condition. As the name suggests, is defined by a lack of trust and an overriding suspicious nature of other people.

It can be an incredibly isolating experience to believe that almost everyone you meet has a hostile motive or are threatening towards you. They believe that almost everyone is, in some way, out to harm, exploit or 'trick' them, often to extreme levels. This occurs even if there is absolutely no evidence to back up their fears.

Not surprisingly, this makes building relationships very difficult indeed and as such, they can be very difficult to get on with. They can become argumentative, complaining and stand off-ish (that's a word right?).

It's not only other people that can cause a problem. Those living with Paranoid Personality Disorder tend to become extremely self-sufficient, not able to trust anyone else with the simplest aspects of their life. They can become very controlling and critical of other people and situations that occur around them, sticking to often very rigid regimes. They don't react to criticism very well and tend to hold grudges. Forgive and forget isn't part of their vocabulary.

Whilst it isn't a specifically gender biased condition, it does tend to occur in more men than woman. Typical! In general, it affects between 2% and 4% of the population, but often people don't seek help for the condition until it really starts to affect their life or until they reach the end of their tether with it.

THE SYMPTOMS

Paranoid Personality Disorder usually begins in the early stages of adulthood and can present itself in a number of ways. These include:

  • Suspicious of others and their motives, often without cause.
  • Doubting the loyalty of friends or colleagues.
  • Detached demeanour.
  • Often unnecessarily hostile towards people.
  • Socially isolating themselves.
  • Not confiding in others for fear of the information being 'used' against them.
  • Bears grudges.
  • Finds negative meaning in the most innocent of remarks.
  • Often believes a partner is cheating on them, again, often without good reason.

Paranoid Personality Disorder isn't a condition that is just 'picked out of the air'. For your Doctor (or more likely a mental health professional) to diagnose you with PPD, they should have first ruled out schizophrenia and other mood disorders, such as psychosis.

It is also not generally diagnosed in addition to other existing conditions, i.e. it's not something that generally occurs if someone already has been diagnosed with bipolar, schizophrenia or other mood-affective disorders.

WHAT CAUSES PARANOID PERSONALITY DISORDER?

No-one knows, blah, probably a mix of things, blah, blah. It might not sound like a great answer, but it is true that there just isn't one single cause for Paranoid Personality Disorder, or most other mental illnesses for that matter.

Most research shows that all personality disorders are caused by a combination of factors including how you've been brought and your relationships with others as a child. It also can be caused by your genetic make-up (not that you can do anything about that) and other environmental factors, like the structure you grew up in. 

Some believe that negative experiences you may have had as child also play a part. These can include growing up in an oppressive or threatening atmosphere or if your parents were quite condescending towards you.

WHAT TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE?

A combination of short-term medication and psychotherapy seem to work best for paranoid personality disorder. It is worth noting that medication is not always encouraged or viable by some, as this can lead to the patient becoming suspicious about the pills or the motives of the Doctor; an obvious trait of the condition.

If no treatment is offered or sought, the condition can become chronic.


If you live with Paranoid Personality Disorder, there may be some organisations on our Where To Turn pages that can help you. If not, and you know of one, please let us know and we'll look into it.

Also, if you'd like to share your experiences of living with PPD with our community so they can better understand how it feels, please take a look at our 'Men Tell' section.