What Is Paranoia?

Paranoia can be a side effect of certain medications.
Paranoia may cause people to think others want to harm them.
Paranoia in the elderly may be a sign of dementia.
In "1984," George Orwell envisioned a world where all actions are monitored.
In some cases, paranoid thoughts may signal an underlying anxiety disorder.
Paranoid individuals may believe that they are constantly under surveillance.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Revised By: Terrie Brockmann
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Images By: Monkey Business, Auremar, Imageegami, Miranda Celeste Hale, Phase4Photography, Giuseppe Porzani
  • Last Modified Date: 12 December 2014
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Paranoia is a medical term for a condition in which the person has either recurring delusions that people are trying to harm him or a false sense of exalted self-importance that leads him to be suspicious of others. Typically, people associate it with three medical conditions: paranoid schizophrenia, persecutory-type delusional disorder, and paranoid personality disorder (PPD). It is a complicated illness with a number of causes and symptoms. Many people do not use the word in a medical sense, but instead use it to describe someone who does not trust other people generally.

Symptoms

The symptoms of paranoia are diverse, but one of the most common is a strong distrust of other people. Often, paranoid people suspect that those around them are plotting against them and question the motives of others, leading them to be tense, oversensitive, and confrontational. They are unable to relax around people because of this lack of trust and often are quick to take offense to others' actions, which may make them uncomfortable at social functions. Other symptoms may include extreme stubbornness, perfectionism, and difficulty in expressing forgiveness, although these may also be signs of other mental disorders.

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Clinically, mental health practitioners see paranoia as a secondary condition to illnesses like schizophrenia, paranoid personality disorder, and a variety of other mental disorders. Many times, symptoms that appear to be related to paranoia may be an indication of a different disorder, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or an anxiety disorder. Practitioners also associate this condition with dementia and delirium in the elderly.

The symptoms of paranoia often depend upon the type a person has. In 1995, professors Max J. Birchwood, Peter Trower, and Paul Chadwick categorized the disorder into two classifications: "bad me" and "poor me." In the "bad me" category, paranoid people think that they deserve any harassment, bullying, or persecution as a punishment; this is often associated with depression. In the "poor me" category, people believe that they do not deserve to be persecuted, and that the attacks are against them alone.

Causes

Although no one knows the exact causes of paranoia, medical professionals often cite factors such as heredity, head injuries, and chemical reasons like chronic methamphetamine usage. Some mental health care practitioners believe that paranoid people may suffer from a breakdown in some thought processes; people with schizophrenia, for example, may have a hard time thinking logically and not always know what's real and what's not. Other conditions, like depression and anxiety, can also cause a person to feel under attack.

A number of experts believe that extremely stressful situations, especially when combined with an ongoing habit of assuming that other people tend to act with bad intentions, can lead to paranoid thoughts. A child who has had her trust betrayed repeatedly, for example, may grow into a person who assumes that all people are against her. Sudden traumatic events, like a job loss or the death of a loved one, might push the person into becoming paranoid.

Treatments

Depending on what is causing the paranoia, it may be necessary to treat the other mental disorder first or at the same time. If the patient is also suffering from anxiety, for instance, anti-anxiety medications may help her feel less nervous and suspicious, which can provide some relief. Paranoia itself is often treated with behavior therapy, which teaches the sufferer how to be less sensitive to criticism and helps increase her social skills. The therapy may take a long time, as this condition is very difficult to overcome due to the guarded traits associated with the disorder.

A paranoid person is usually not aware of the condition, so getting her treatment can be difficult. In most cases, if others bring the paranoia to her attention, it will only increase her levels of distrust. Some people may, in time, come to realize that they are questioning every action that other people take, but it is often very difficult for someone suffering with this condition to break the cycle. It is almost impossible for a person with this psychiatric disorder to control the condition without medical treatment.

Non-Medical Paranoia

In some cases, parents teach their children to question other people's motives, to suspect strangers of wrongdoings, and to mistrust all people generally. Examples of untrustworthy people can be seen on the news regularly as well. Paranoia may be a mental illness, but many people believe that society caters to people's tendencies to mistrust the motivations of others. After traumatic events like those of September 11, 2001, some observers saw an increase in the amount of US fiction that focused on mass paranoia as a rational response to contemporary events.

Some people believe that the fear of living in an Orwellian society causes mass distrust and suspicion among the population. The term refers to George Orwell's book, 1984, which describes a world where everything, down to the characters' thought processes, is monitored. In a few areas of the world, surveillance cameras are very common and constantly record what people around them do, often as a way to deter crime or gather evidence after a crime has been committed. Many people believe this has created a rise in non-medical paranoia.

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Discuss this Article

anon965715
Post 100

@Anon72905: What happened right there when you got a bad feeling suddenly and then a speeding car went right by your best friend -- that feeling is called 'intuition.' It's not paranoia and it doesn't mean you're crazy. It's actually extremely useful.

You should trust the bad feelings you get, it means your intuition is trying to tell you something bad is about to happen and to be careful until the bad thing has passed. Don't ever disregard it; it could end up saving your life. I cannot stress this enough: always trust it.

anon357374
Post 97

A lot of these posts don't seem very paranoid. I will give you a severe example. If this is not you, you're probably not that paranoid. It's a lot more than being overly scared when alone. I get that too, mostly because of my paranoid mom who raised me with terrible stories of what could happen to me if I'm not careful. but she is on a whole other level than me. It's ridiculous.

She is so paranoid that she won't believe anyone telling her she's paranoid because she is paranoid the person is just the devil trying to hurt her. Paranoid is a lot more than being scared at night or when you're alone. It's something that makes you impossible to handle. If you are able to admit to your paranoia, it's likely not that bad. My mom can't be treated because she won't believe it, so we have to live with her always threatening to sue my dad and family, and telling us that everyone is trying to ruin her. She has a terrible time keeping friends because of this, and always switches churches because she doesn't trust the people in her church. She sees no fault in herself (or at least can't admit to it) and cannot say she's sorry. My dad has only heard her say it once in 18 years.

She has incredibly low self-esteem behind her prideful appearance. It's really sad and I feel bad for her because she really does think the world is against her and it makes her heart hard. She seems to have anger issues on top of it because she randomly used to blow up at home over something like a mis-washed fork and attack us. She honestly could not control herself and didn't see the harm she did. Her words are venom and she is the master of manipulation. We would try to ignore her but she knew exactly what to say, true or not, to make us blow up back at her. She doesn't attack anymore since the counselor found out, but she still talks like a snake bites and trusts no one. All you people who think you are paranoid, feel grateful your paranoia only affects your life and not normally others.

anon355014
Post 96

My name is Jade. I am 20 years old and from Australia.

When I was 14 years old I was what authorities would title as a run away child which led me to homelessness and without contact with family and friends. I slept in abandoned warehouses, car park stairways, caravan park bathrooms and on beaches. Now I've sorted my life out and have built back the relationships I lost.

However I have nights where I can't sleep and every little noise I hear I think it's someone trying to break in or wanting to hurt me. I have a security gate and friendly neighbours. Am I paranoid and need help? Or is it normal considering my age and the lack of security when homeless?

anon250017
Post 93

The past year I've taken a crap load of different types of drugs which, of course, triggered me to believe I have paranoia!

anon248966
Post 92

I agree with boom123. God and praying, and faith to help get us through.

anon248960
Post 91

Drug use can also be the cause of paranoia.

machineye
Post 90

I'm a 19 year old girl. I'm so paranoid that I think to myself, “Don't worry. You're just being paranoid. That's why you think you're paranoid”' I sometimes would be walking down the street and I have to look at cars to see if any of them are following me with a video camera and recording what I'm doing and where I'm going (this isn't just me being crazy, its from past experiences of being hacked on the net and my pictures were stolen). Anyway, it's pretty screwed up.

To be honest, I don't relate that much to the stories being told here. With me, it's more insecurity issues. When I was in primary school, I got teased a lot. It's weird because I am a loud person, yet I'm so afraid of being embarrassed or something humiliating to happen to me in front of people but I can never be a shy person. It's more like I say what's on my mind, hoping that the person who I'm speaking to doesn't say anything back that would embarrass me in front of others. I failed some assessments at school because I couldn't get up and do a speech in front of a class, and when I have one coming up, I worry so much and if I do attempt to do the speech, my voice starts shaking and I read really, really fast. But in front of others, I pretend that I just don't feel like doing the speech and I can't be bothered.

It's weird with me. I love getting attention from guys (I do have a boyfriend), but I sometimes get paranoid that he would notice my insecurity because he knows me so well that I feel uncomfortable when other people are around me and him because I'm scared he will pick up on it.

It's really weird. I know I'm attractive, but I really worry so much about what I look like, about my personality and how I look in front of other people. I want people to see me tough and strong and intimidating, attractive and funny, and some people do see me that way, but I just worry about it so much. It's like I live to impress other people and it's all I care about. It probably doesn't sound that bad, but when you live in anxiety and you worry about these things, it's pretty screwed up, and after reading this I actually feel like I have admitted it to myself. Good luck guys. We can fight through this!

anon246724
Post 89

My friend recently became crazily detached. I guess I should have seen it coming but we got high all the time and drank, but now he's lost it.

We were at the same university together than he quit for whatever reason. Than he went to another university that was more isolated and that's where he lost it.

A true paranoia disorder is when you won't even get on the computer anymore because of fear or whatever. He is delusional in his self-importance as he said he saved the economy and made people millions, and now they are using his family against him.

He turned himself into the police and they put him in a mental hospital. He now is on meds which it's said will cause seizures if stopped, clearly fueling more paranoia. The media and his own thoughts consumed him. so if you can even rationally explain yourself on here you're not so bad off!

anon246041
Post 88

I'm a teenage girl with severe paranoia. One small comment can ruin my whole day. I question everyone's intentions and constantly am looking for reassurance. Get help. It only gets worse.

anon246002
Post 87

My name is Mikhail. I'm the most paranoid person in the world. I am pretty sure of that. In fact, I'm so sure of it, that I know for a fact that I am actually not at all paranoid! It is definitely the efforts of those who are behind the curtains to convince me that I am in fact paranoid. I know nearly 100 percent of people who read this and the editors will automatically "diagnose" something here and tell me to get professional help.

The thing is, I have been involved with professionals and they are one of the strongest influences in this little conundrum of mine. It's turned more into a view on my own thought processes at this point, and I am seeing that it is my duty to get myself through this and develop the mental fortitude to be able to ignore everything outside of me and to focus on my work, my goals, my future and myself. I am starting a graduate program in biochemistry, have been involved with research for over two years, and I plan to lift weights and train my body and mind together, rigorously, to develop the strength I know will send me sailing high above my assailants.

I hope my story will motivate some people some day. Though, currently, no one really has any idea what's going on in my head. I say things out loud and blah blah blah, do this and that. But I'm a wild card. I'm going to change myself, and the world might change when it sees that.

anon239991
Post 86

If you feel you suffer from paranoia and it is greatly affecting your life, please get help. See a psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in CBT - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It can get you your life back.

Don't worry, no one will think you are crazy or judge you. You need to get help. Get your life back. But make sure you see someone who specializes in CBT. If you see a psychologist who doesn't specialize in CBT, they will attempt to psychoanalyze you and it's not likely to help your problem: social anxiety.

anon239287
Post 85

I'm a 17 year old girl. Every day, I'm afraid of walking anywhere in public (and it's even worse at school). Even walking a couple feet to go throw something into the garbage in the school cafeteria scares me. Even though I know that in reality no one's seriously judging me or staring at me, I always have this nervous feeling that people are staring me down. Despite being told I'm shy, I know for a fact it's not shyness. It's paranoia.

This goes back to me being laughed at by over 100 of my peers during gym class in third grade. We were playing four corners kick ball. When it was my turn, I suppose I kicked the ball too soon. That irritable coach (who always picks on the weakest) embarrassed me to the point where I literally wanted to kill myself. I don't want to talk about it in detail -- it was not a pleasant memory -- but having all those kids laugh at me (who was the "fool" on the stage) really traumatized me. There were more instances but I think that was the start of my paranoia.

However, I'm pretty normal (outwardly/physically) and nobody knows about my problem as I hid it really well. I just hope I can somehow calm myself or cure it.

anon237864
Post 84

I was walking past two ladies and one let out a muffled laugh just as she was passing me and as they continued past, the other one joined in. They were quiet walking towards me and there was no one else around.

Paranoia? Well, I'm here an hour later trawling the internet thinking about it all and trying to decipher the experience, because it really really did seem like they laughed at me, but I am aware enough of things to consider two other aspects:

1. There were times previous to that experience where I felt like maybe I was getting a complimentary glance by someone.

2. Maybe they weren't laughing at me. Frankly, I'm pretty sure they were, but maybe not. If I tried, I could conjure up some circumstances to explain why they laughed just as they passed me.

Self esteem is a huge, huge part of the problem for me. Look above: I just described how I'm pretty sure I had some positive glances, yes, more than one. But, all it took was one perceived bad experience for all my self esteem to crumble around me.

But there really, really is a negative ugly trend in society these days where it's all me, me, me, selfish, self absorbed, ruthless dog-eat-dog world. There is plenty of objective evidence to support that. So, it's making it somewhat difficult to be objective about what is paranoia and what is actually really happening out there.

I'm not sure I want to get 'better' if 'better' means being integrated by psychologists and/or psychiatrists into a society which is intrinsically damaged and self destructing. I keep going and looking out there for some hope but frankly it seems to be getting worse and not better.

Best wishes to everyone struggling with this sort of thing. My personal approach is to get exercise and eat well and stick to the shadows as much as is practical.

anon234942
Post 83

My name's Jordan and I'm a 20 year old guy from Toronto.

I never really thought I was paranoid, but I'm starting to get sick and tired of letting fear take over my life! I've also felt agoraphobia and this post from anon11101, post 4, sounds like me a lot. Before, that comment would have scared the crap out of me. I probably would assume that there's a camera installed in my apartment and everyone can see what I'm doing.

I used to be the type to go out and everyone would like me and want to hang out with me, but now it's like they always talk about me when I go into the kitchen or bathroom or bedroom or I just don't pay attention to them. I always feel like I'm being laughed at and so many other things would just escalate!

For me to get out of this paranoia, I have to think out of this cluster of thoughts stinging my brain and whenever I do that I feel better, because I'm not living in my ego. The ego has a powerful effect on how we react to certain things. If I feed it negativity, I will start to become paranoid and if I live more positive with that thought in my mind!

So I think outside the cluster of paranoid thoughts and a bruised ego and think, “Hey, look who I used to be!” I got myself in this condition? Well then I certainly can get myself out of it because I came into this earth alone and not to impress anyone. I don't have to care about what anyone has to say about how rude I was to someone or whatever is going on. I need to grow up and really learn to understand that I can get better alone. I don't need anyone because I put myself here!

Usually, I'm very paranoid. I remember about three years ago it got really hard for me. I thought everyone could hear my thoughts or had some psychic ability to do so. I felt as if famous people were the ones corrupting our generation to turn against me. I smoked weed one day and got so paranoid I slept for three days and only woke up to go to the bathroom. But I don't have to live like that! I even had suicide thoughts. It was scary stuff, man, having suicide thoughts started from paranoia

I don't know what to write anymore. Honestly, the paranoia gets to me and I blank out, but it would be cool to have some friends who can relate to me or help me and just be a friend to me. I'll be the same for them!

Moderator's reply: Thank you for visiting our site, and contributing to the discussion. In order to remain neutral and to protect our readers' identities, we cannot facilitate the exchange of emails or other personal information.

Thanks, The wiseGEEK Team

anon234408
Post 82

I became a loner. I've had a habit of stealing from childhood, like food items in my home, magnets. At my school, I stole a calculator and before that my grandmother died. I don't know what happened.

I felt guilt and I am ashamed. One of my goals is to get a good job and marry a girl from a good family to be happy in life. Now I am a loner, addicted to alcohol and cigarettes and spending too much money. Please give me help about my condition. I've been detached from my family members for four years.

anon234185
Post 81

Has anyone ever been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? I have PTSD and know that I often mistrust people but this is different than being paranoid as well. Most people who are truly paranoid would read this article and laugh, and go about their day, not thinking they actually are paranoid.

anon230756
Post 80

They are reading and recording everything you are saying. They now have our IP addresses. Say nothing, speak to no one. Find a trade or skill you can do under the radar. No paper trail. Good luck.

anon229320
Post 79

To everyone on this post, stop reading articles, stop doing your own research and go see a specialist.

I'm a 27 year old female diagnosed with OCD pure O. The worst thing for people who don't know what's happening is reading over the internet. A lot of mental illnesses have common symptoms, and it takes a professional person to pinpoint the problem. From my experience, stop watching the news and only watch comedy movies, meaning, surround yourself with happy positive elements. If your job is stressful, quit it and find another job.

My OCD is triggered by hearing or seeing something bad. If I hear on the news someone committed a horrendous crime, I start worrying what if I become like that, what if I hurt a loved one, and these thoughts are so so so unpleasant, I'm not going to go into details, because they are disturbing.

But for OCD sufferers out there, please go for CBT therapy. It's amazing and helps you to deal with the obsessive thoughts. I'm not cured and I know I will never be, but knowing that I'm not as awful as my obsessive thoughts indicate, keep me going and able to care for my little one and family. It's not easy, but it's somewhat manageable. You will have good days, and you will also have some very bad ones, but always look at the bright side.

anon212098
Post 77

Well after reading this I think I am paranoid. I just got out of high school and everything was good. Back then I had my friends and I would talk to everybody, but some days later, I started to notice people started to laugh at me. I've got a big head and this is really screwing me up.

Now whenever I go out I think people are laughing at me and I can swear they are laughing at me. Now I am facing one of the most important decisions of my life, which is deciding what I'm going to study. I don't feel good about making this decision. I am just thinking that I don't want to go to university and having people start laughing at me. This is really frustrating. I feel like crap.

hornet
Post 76

I was wondering after reading this article. I found this article when i was searching "my college girls laugh at me". I thought that I was the only person who had symptoms like this. After I read this article and the discussions, now I know that I have paranoia. I can't believe that other people in this discussion and my symptoms are the same. Now I am 20. I started feeling this way at age 14. I was afraid to go to school, afraid to attend assembly. I never made a speech at school assembly.

I hate to walk in my town. I feel most of the people look at me, so I use a car or bike when going outside. I have no more friends.

Now I am 20. I was doing a business administration degree, but I hate to attend the classes. I feel every student will look at me.

The reason I found this article is one day I went to the college washroom and outside the washroom there were three girls (they were in my class) and they laughed at me strangely. That day I felt that I wanted to kill them. I get very angry with those kinds of people.

I don't know what to do. It's very horrible. Now I like to live alone. Every time I stay at home and watch movies,eating. One thing is now I hate to log on to my facebook account. I don't know how to live like that. Good luck and get well soon guys.

anon205882
Post 74

Some people's way of making themselves seem witty and attractive is by putting down somebody else. People in my generation only know about taking from what other people have and jealousy is king. It's not paranoia; you're actually better off alone. Your "friends" would rather see you fail than feel the sting of envy.

anon200163
Post 73

I'm 19 years old and I think I am very paranoid and have agoraphobia. I can't go outside anywhere on my own because I think the whole world is against me. The thing is, I have a one and half year old daughter and am about to give birth to my son. I really don't know what to do because I think everyone talks about me all the time, and if they see me walk past, they will say stuff – even friends and some family.

I am always on my own with my daughter and her dad and when he's at work, I stay in even more because I even think my neighbors judge me and talk about me. I can't do this anymore. I cry myself to sleep basically every night because I feel my daughter's missing out and is bored all the time because I have no energy to take her to the park and I have basically no friends anymore. They’d rather go to the pub every day and don’t give a crap about me.

My mum lives near me but she works five days a week so I hardly see her. I trust no one and have to double check everything is locked and windows are shut and switches are turned off when I go to bed every night because I think something bad will happen to us. I always think everyone’s looking down on me.

I would love to go to college or something one evening a week or something but that is totally out. I wouldn’t be able to do it. When I hear bad things on the news or something, I can't get it out of my head and think what if it was me. I went to the doctor, who referred me to a mental health clinic and I went for an assessment but everything goes around in my head and I can't explain everything properly to people because there’s so much, so that's why my comment's really long.

So she listened, then referred me to some counseling crap and they also assessed me then said well there’s not a lot we can do by the sound of, it and also because you're pregnant again. Then they told me to get a referral back to the mental health clinic! What? I went back to my doc, who put me on antidepressants!

They have done nothing to help me and I feel alone even more now. I don’t know what to do. I can't go anywhere on my own because I think everyone looks at me. Sometimes I will say, “What the bleep are you looking at? Are you snob or something?” when they walk past and do it because I also get angry and then I can't stop thinking about it all day. I really don’t know what to do.

anon186116
Post 72

Everyone has paranoia. It is normal. It is a survival instinct. For example, a police officer will not accept food offered by a drug dealer or a gang member. Winston Churchill would not have accepted food offered by Hitler. If I hate you and offer you food, you would not accept food from me, either. It is normal. It is not mental illness or schizophrenia.

Depression is also normal. If I am really rude and mean to you, you will be depressed. It is normal. It is not mental illness.

anon177959
Post 71

I think I suffer from agoraphobia mixed with paranoia symptoms. I been having these sudden fear since my school years. I never had them when I was younger but they suddenly came when I was studying. And they never left me. It is so unfair and it sucks. I haven´t found a remedy yet. But I know I will.

I am staying more inside than ever. I am afraid going outside (on my own). The moment I open the door, everything comes at me. I think people in their houses stare at me. Because of this I rarely feel safe anywhere. I hate crowded and open places. I feel like people are judging me and want to say something back sometimes but that wouldn't help. I am scared of open places, going into stores. I wasn't before. It is frustrating.

I can't really walk with confidence because I am so tense. I ride my bike a lot because it's fast and safe. I hope one day this fear will leave me because I do not want to become a hermit or something. I wish all the anxious people much luck in their recovery.

anon175229
Post 70

paranoia is weakness. I choose not to accept the illogical, irrational thoughts. I pity people who are nasty because they are insecure about a part of themselves and so feel the need to reflect that on to someone else to cause them pain and make them feel better. I choose not to be affected by that, nor do I choose to be afraid of the world and its offerings. We only have one chance and despite the setbacks, i intend to enjoy the time i have here.

Society says that we must act a certain way in order to be accepted. Some might say i am socially inept because, by my own admission, i am not the best communicator, i tend to think too much from all sides of the coin, and worry about what I say. The fact is, i shouldn't worry and there are many people out there like me, who are different and should be proud of that fact.

Although this makes it hard for me to make decisions, it is a way of protecting myself, sussing things out before making any rash moves.

i wish you well on your journey. Life is it's own answer, i intend to enjoy it, and will never live in fear of anything again.

Bengalqween
Post 69

This is a very good article. I thought I was the only one with negative thoughts about the human race. However, one must take in stride that rejection by the world is a part of growing up and being very strong.

I am always paranoid and hurt by people who laugh at me. People used to admire me but never told me. They think themselves better now just because I suffer from an illness. It is insensitive and vile!

anon173239
Post 66

I am a 13 old guy and i suffer from paranoia so can i have any help please? It feels so bad.

anon170268
Post 65

I have recently come to the conclusion that I am suffering from mild paranoia. I struggle daily with feeling like I've made someone angry or that I will be pushed out of my position in my job.

I went through a period where I was constantly distrusting and accusing my partner of cheating for no relevant reason. When I see bad things on tv, I can't erase it from my mind.

I have had much loss in life (tragedies) and been betrayed by family and friends in the past. I feel angry a lot, but mostly wish I could be secluded. As I get older, I like people less.

boom123
Post 60

Age: 19 M. I think I have a slight disorder of this sickness. While reading people's stories, I only realized one thing, they have forgotten to pray.

"Put God first in everything you do and everything will flow perfectly." Based on my experience praying helps a lot. God bless

Good evening from Philippines.

anon159520
Post 59

I have complete empathy with everyone here. I know what it is like to be paranoid. I find fish oil really helps though.

anon154717
Post 58

I'm 19 years old and i was thrown out of my parents' house when i was 18. I live with my fiance and his son. I can't sleep at night because i have racing thoughts. i have been in and out of hospitals all my life for mental disorders. I don't know what to do

anon151688
Post 57

I got into trouble with people, really bad people.

They found out where i lived and i had a feeling for a while that i was being followed. Even though back then when i had no problems with paranoia, i knew i was being followed and that they where going to take revenge for what i did to a few people.

So one day they got lucky and i was just outside my house and cars stop in front of me, people jump out and i ended up in the hospital.

I was so scared to ever see them again after that and i kept thinking they will come back and do worse. I still went outside for maybe two and a half years after that. It was so hard i couldn't make one step without always looking behind me.

I lost everything in my life: my girlfriend whom i loved so much; all my friends. I pushed them away from me because my paranoia got so bad at one point that i thought everyone i loved had turned into evil persons and joined the people who hurt me.

Sometimes i think I'm in hell. I died that day. I'm in hell as punishment because i hurt people.

It's hard for me to tell you all this. I never told anyone this before and i feel ashamed to tell my parents or brothers.

I've been inside for about five years now. I have tried to search for a job and i either get rejected because of my illness or my stomach starts hurting so bad from fear that i go back home as soon as possible.

All i do now is fear, sleep, sit in front of my PC, eat and drink. Do i really have to live like this for the rest of my life?

Sometimes i feel like i will only lose this paranoia if i kill the people who hurt me.

This isn't the only issue i have in life, though.

When i was a kid i was a little on the chubby side and my dad and brothers always laughed at me about it and called me fat. I hated myself for being fat, so i did something about it.

Age 13 i started to get thinner and thinner and more handsome. I had a great life after that until i got into problems with those people etc. But now with this paranoia and because I'm inside a lot, I still watch my diet and all but its so hard and I'm gaining weight: 2-3Kg more every year. I'm starting to hate myself again.

I don't have anything in my life. I don't have a paycheck. I rely on my mother.

I don't know where or what to do to get money because of my problem.

anon147802
Post 56

I was searching online about why I am so afraid of failure, and somehow I came to this article.

After reading this article, I got to know that I am paranoid. All the symptoms mentioned in this article matches me one by one, and now I am so sad that I am a mentally sick person.

I am 20 years old and a software engineer, and used to think that I will do something really big in my life, but now I am very sad. I hate myself. It's 3:25 am and I cannot sleep. I am so afraid.

anon144884
Post 55

I'm 20 and my paranoia is that I'm always afraid something's going to happen to my mum if I'm not around her. If she leaves for work, I'm in constant panic that she won't make it. It makes me feel so bad that my stomach hurts,

Another thing is that I'm paranoid about sex. I'm an extremely attractive young lady but I'm also a virgin because I'm afraid that I might get pregnant or worse upon losing my virginity.

I'm also afraid of sex because I've had scores of guys literally asking me to have sex with them and I'm afraid of saying no because I'm paranoid that it'll ruin our friendship. I'm afraid that if i have sex with a guy, he'll just forget about me afterward and I'll feel used.

anon142481
Post 54

I am 50 years old and relate to everything everyone here says. The only difference is it has progressed so far that I am almost completely isolated, no friends, no job, my family hardly speaks to me. I almost never leave the house.

Now I am paranoid about the internet (even as I write, I think someone will see my post and come to get me). I won't sign background check and credit check forms for employment because I think someone will use it to come and get me. Whenever someone argues with me about this, I'm so sure I'm right that I can't change.

anon141796
Post 53

I hate this! every night i have to check doors windows and vents because I'm scared someone will break in.

I also have to constantly ask what people have said and what they just did because I'm scared something will happen if i don't fully understand. whenever i hear something bad on the news, i find it hard to get it out of my mind and keep thinking: "what if that was me and my family?"

i have a major fear someone will break in and come and kill me and my family. i hate being alone and when ever a stranger looks at me i instantly think "perv" but i don't know why. I'm sure most of them are fine.

I'm never comfortable. i feel safer with friends and my mum gives me trouble for checking doors so many times because she thinks I'll break the door! can someone please help me? It's taking over my life.

anon141778
Post 52

I just turned 20 years old, and it has only come to me now that I may have issues with paranoia.

I have a fear of driving in the city, making simple phone calls and getting ahead in life. It's getting progressively worse. People think I'm lazy but I deal with emotional struggles almost every day. It's really hard to focus.

When I force myself to do something that's out of my comfort level, I get high anxiety and feel sick to my stomach. I wish things would be easier for me, but every step, no matter how small, is always a burden mentally.

After high school, I've noticed I have trouble trusting people, forgiving people and think very negatively about people other than my family that I'm very fortunate to have. If it weren't for my family, I'm not sure how I could cope or stay sane.

I have contemplated suicide when I was 16, and was admitted to the hospital. But I never got an evaluation or follow up. I never found that there was a concern for it, but the things I've overcome in the past are building up now and I feel it.

No one said it'd be easy but it's making life every day harder for me, and now that I'm 20, I'd like to get started on my life instead of living in fear of minor failures. I guess I'm scared to mess up, but I'm bound to. I just don't know how to live with regret.

anon139633
Post 51

I'm in high school, and although i don't think I suffer from paranoia, I believe it's growing more and more.

I question whether or not if i do have friends, and I feel like my friends are there only to hurt me. I sometimes think people are watching me through the windows and I always look outside to check. I feel like someone will break in my home and steal something or even worse. I don't know what to do, but it is getting worse.

jjalith
Post 50

Ok. This is hard to talk about, but I have to. I'm 18 years old, and I thought what I had was only social anxiety disorder.

I do have that, but now I'm starting to think it's something more. I'm starting to notice increasing feelings of dread, and there is sometimes a feeling like I am being watched by people far away while I'm in my room alone. I am always fearing the worst. I can't sleep at night anymore and always have my door locked because I'm afraid someone is going to break in and murder me while I'm asleep.

That feeling isn't constant; it's at night or when I'm alone in a sketchy or deserted area. I just deleted my e-mail account that I've had for years, because I found out some random contacts I don't really talk to could probably read about my activity on Yahoo answers. I was so scared and embarrassed by it. I couldn't even think or eat or do anything afterward. I still am feeling that way about it.

Like many of you have already said, I am always feeling that my friends and people in general don't like me, that they think I'm weird or ugly or that I smell. When I was younger and still now, I have been afraid to sleep at other people's houses simply because I'm worried that I'm going to talk in my sleep or say something embarrassing while dreaming.

All of this is terrible and so hard to live with. I hardly go anywhere anymore. I can barely leave my house because I'm afraid I'll see someone I know. When I think I hear a car pulling into the driveway or if someone is at the door, I literally run upstairs to my room. I am in a real bind.

I was already embarrassed enough when I told my mother about my social anxiety, and she didn't take that well at all and just says it's an excuse to be lazy. So what the heck is she going to say if I were to say anything to her about paranoia? Oh god, I don't even want to think about it.

All I can say is, I truly, 100 percent sympathize with all of you out there who are dealing with these things. Thank you for reading.

anon135066
Post 49

criticism bothers me and even if someone gave a bad look towards me I feel as if something has gone wrong while a smile flows through the greatest happiness i ever received. Am I paranoid?

anon134662
Post 48

I'm exactly like #44. I don't fear people. I have intense hostility and aggression toward complete strangers. I am preoccupied with acceptance and rejection from others.

If someone walks pass me and gives me a dirty look, my whole mood will drop for the entire day and i will be extremely angry, wanting to hurt others. I'm always hearing people call me ugly as well, everywhere i go and it doesn't make sense because so many people tell me i am good looking and i see myself as so cute, but i see and hear that I'm ugly all the time.

I could read people's lips and their negative reactions. One time in a bar as well some guy looked at me from a distance and i heard him say what's that? as if I'm the ugliest person. And I've heard this same expression from other people. I've also heard that i am funny looking and weird looking.

i think it's real because i am really seeing it and experiencing it. I'm not perceiving it. I'm 100 percent seeing it. Also even friends have told me I'm cute but unique looking and others have told me just to ignore other people, that they have been called ugly too.

I expect my friend's comments to be "what are you talking about your crazy, this is not happening" but no one is saying this. when i talk about being weird looking or unique, most but not all of my friends stay quiet.

i don't know what's real or what's not anymore? all i want is to get rid of the intense anger i have towards people because it's dangerous. I want to love others but i feel so persecuted and hated on. How could i be so ugly to people and then so hot? you're either ugly or your hot or average? but like i said i don't know whats real or what's not anymore.

anon125237
Post 47

i really can't understand why, but i feel like everyone's cheating on me. my boyfriend (we're in a long distance relationship), and my friends. I kept thinking that they'll leave me one day. I am so depressed, and super paranoid about every action that my bf and friends do. How to overcome this? I feel like I'm going crazy.

anon125195
Post 46

I have been diagnosed as chronic paranoid schizophrenic. I am shocked when i read these articles because i fit every symptom. I was wondering how people in america with mental illnesses survive i live in britain and am very grateful for the nhs i could not work my symptoms are that bad. America should try a national health service. Not everyone can cope with the stresses of employment.

anon83314
Post 44

I'm not that paranoid. It's not like a 'fear' i get. It's anger. I'll be in a pub and someone will look at me, and I'll think they're laughing at me or talking about me and it'll grate on my mind the whole night until i hit him or do something about it.

I also always think people are talking about me and the other thing about friends not liking me -- i have had that. i also sometimes think i smell when i don't. It's weird. I suppose it's just paranoia, and I'm going to try control it, because I'm actually quite confident when i get to know people, it's just people i don't know that make me paranoid and i find it hard to trust people. I also always think the worst of people.

anon72905
Post 24

I can't believe I'm looking at this. I don't believe it would be normal for a sixth grader to be reading this. But, I don't feel like I am always being watched on a camera or something. I always feel that something else is watching me. I even dream about her sometimes. And I have this scary feeling that she is both friend and foe.

I always get these weird bad feelings. Like for example, one day me and a friend were walking to her house, and it's right around the corner from mine. To get there you have to pass around a corner and walk across a not-always-busy two-way street.

So while walking, I stopped to pick up something on the ground. My friend is about to cross the street. And then all of a sudden, I had this absolutely horrible feeling. I called out her name as quickly as possible, and as soon as I did, she stopped walking. And when she did stop, a speeding car sped across the street followed by two cop cars. If she hadn't stopped walking- she would have been flat as a pancake. Scares me a bit actually.

Friends refer to me as half sane. I have to say I agree with them.

anon72792
Post 23

I am 32 years old and I think I have some kind of mental problem because I always feel that people are looking at me.

I feel like I want to cry sometimes because I wasn't always like this. It has been getting worse with time. I cannot go anywhere without experiencing high anxiety to the point where my stomach turns.

I don't know where to start looking for help because I don't want to be made fun of! I used to wonder does anyone else in the world have this problem and reading comments on this site lets me know that I am not the only one.

I hate feeling this way so much it is making me depressed. I have kids and I don't want to depend on prescribed medications because most of the prescriptions make you sleepy and I want to be an alert and happy mom to my kids. Any advice? What can I do?

anon67050
Post 22

i feel I'm being watched and followed at all times. I'm sure there are cameras and tape recorders secretly hidden at my job.

i question every car parked in my workplace parking lot.

i talked to my ex husband and he called me paranoid and gave me a sermon and made me feel better but these feelings keep coming back. what is this?

anon63324
Post 20

is it possible that i can forcefully take my husband for medical attention even though i am the last person he wants to see.

anon49037
Post 19

I'm 15. Whenever I hear people laugh, I always assume they are laughing at me, for some odd reason. I also honestly truly think none of my friends like me. I want it to stop. I hate it. :(

anon44934
Post 18

Paranoia can be caused by many various triggers, but always they are related to an event that may have been shrugged off, but subconsciously you thought process goes over and over the event, eventually that subconscious becomes conscious. that's when paranoia reveals itself. one of the most common events is when an individual gets a trigger, so say this person's house was broken into and they disturbed the robber, and the robber was wearing something memorable like a balaclava. when ever that person sees that trigger item, it sets off paranoia. this person suffering from this state will then distrust most people around them to the point where they can act aggressive. this is also linked to road rage. if a person has an accident in a car when they were younger, it once again gets bottled up, but then whenever that person sees a trigger item, it sets it off. this then leads to a very common occurrence, which is to grow up and drive yourself, and to then be aware of everyone around you and screaming abuse when people make mistakes like forgetting to signal, even to the extreme of being cut up at a roundabout and then following that car -- even when it's in the opposite direction to your destination.

I hope you found this informative, and would advise anyone worrying about this to visit their general practitioner and be referred to a counselor.

anon43971
Post 17

I have a friend of mine who has become increasingly violent towards me, including using physical violence (punching, kicking) and threats. Mood changes are instantanious from friendly to aggressive. Aggression can be brought on by the smallest of things - my tone of voice or facial expression. If I contradict a point of view I'm 'taking sides' against him, for which he says he'll hit me if I do it again. He's obsessed with lying, seeing it as an 'inevitable weakness' in others and if he's challenged with lying (even if you say he may have misunderstood) violence occurs or is threatened. He refers to others as 'Your People' and distances himself from all others in this way, apart from his closest family. He is deeply religious but also believes in the occult and will chant spells to himself. He refers to himself as 'a pheonix' and sometimes says that his powers are growing. When I first met him I thought this was all a joke. He refers to murdering sections of society - again I thought this was jesting. Any criticism of his work is devastating to him, causing him to dwell endlessly on the people criticising him and their motives, causing him great upset and distress. He has an obession with cleanliness, especially with toilets, endlessly bleaching them. He constantly worries about speed cameras and cameras in general when driving, worrying for weeks about being caught doing something wrong on them, and needing to know in advance where they might be on a motorway. The other day he was accidentally touched by someone in the gym and made me go with him to wash his hands. There are many more examples of strange behaviour and beliefs, too many to mention here. Because of the increased violence I have just stopped all communication with him (which he seems to have accepted far too easily), however, as a friend, I am worried about his health.

anon41103
Post 16

hello i'm 15 years old. i have the same problem as one of the people below me. when i'm home i feel like someone is always watching me.

anon36437
Post 15

I would walk into a store and automatically think people are looking at me and talking about me for some reason, I know for a fact that I'm paranoid which is a good thing because it means that I don't have to be afraid or feel that I am being observed by anyone. You just need to embrace the fact that no one cares and the only reason why they would look at you is because... you are cute? you are awesome? There can be lots of positive reasons instead of negative.

anon34120
Post 14

i think paranoia is related to sexual assault or whatever because if you were sexually abused by somebody then you may feel paranoid in a situation to do with sex.

anon31852
Post 13

I Am 15 Years Old And I Get Feelings That I'm Not Safe In My Own Home I Always think There Is Someone There and They Are Going To Hurt Me Or Someone Close To Me. I've Had That Feeling Ever Since My Dad Died When I Was 9 But It Is *worse* Now.

anon27762
Post 12

Hello, I am 42 and female. I have just come terms that I have PPD. I never thought thought that distrust is paranoia. I am in a relationship of 1 1/2 and I continually feel and insist my partner is cheating on me, but there is no evidence to support it. I have always had issues of not trusting due to my childhood experiences.

I am currently going to therapy and trying to heal from the abuse (physical, mental, sexual, and incest). I guess there is more there than I thought. I do feel that this is from my abuse. My distrust is only towards my partner because we are getting too close. I take medication for borderline depression.

Wondering if this is one of my defense mechanisms to keep myself alone. I don't want to be alone. I really feel bad and want to get better. How do you build trust again..?

anon23809
Post 11

I always think that people are laughing at me. Like, yesterday, I was out eating with my parents, and I'm really self-conscious about how I look. (This goes into a long story about me hating my side profile and being made fun of, etc.) A family was sitting a couple tables away, and they start laughing, and I blush and cover my face and I feel terrible. Same with when I'm walking in the hallway at school. Also, like at a new year's party, I decided to hang out with the little kids instead of my friends because I didn't know what to talk about and thought that they wouldn't want to hear anything I had to say anyways.

I can't stand this. =( It's depressing me.

anon23660
Post 10

im 18 and have got 2 little boys, i have had this fear for as long as i can remember but don't know what to do about it as it has got a lot worse over the last few years. i hate being on my own as i think that someone is waiting to get me even in my own flat, i can't go into my bedroom during the day if my partner is at work because i get to scared and if my partner goes to bed before i have to wake him up and he has to wait for me to get into bed before he can turn the light out. i can't cope with it anymore its ruining my life.

anon19918
Post 9

I'm 15 turning 16 this Oct.29 it all started last year when i was in third year high school i imagined things like there is someone behind me that is a spirit or something like demons that thought scares me what am i going to do, i don't like it, it pains me.

anon19783
Post 8

Sometimes I feel like others are going out of there way to "try and get me". Though realistically there probably not. I often feel there is almost a conspiracy against me. I cannot walk down the street without feeling like I'm being watched or followed - my nightmare is supermarkets I can't stand big crowds. I also have irrational thoughts - for example after a night out-where I always get so drunk I don't remember what happens - always. I found a small puncture mark on my stomach - this had disappeared the day after but I was convinced - to be honest I may go and get tested as I still think maybe someone saw I was drunk and an easy target and injected me with a needle that has HIV in it and now I'm infected. I don't like big crowds of people and find social situations a struggle, I find it very difficult to relax and always have, whether I'm by myself or with people - the only thing I have found to make my symptoms go away is alcohol. Is this normal or what do you suggest I do? Thanks

anon19523
Post 7

for a few years now i have been feeling nervous around new people and my friends. i have had a very bad experience with my friends and even though they have told me that they are my friends i don't believe them as they don't seem to care about me, i also fear that people are talking and laughing about me behind my back and that no one likes me. if you could help?

anon16508
Post 6

im 16, and already i feel as i am being watched, i hate walking down a street by myself i feel everyone is watching me and when i see them look away and talk it makes me nervous, and lately i have developed a fear of both open water and the dark of all things, at night and sometimes during the day while im by myself i can sometimes hear voices and smell things, and my friends sometimes say im random and can just suddenly change the subject for no apparent reason. At night and sometimes during the day i have to look several times and inanimate objects and i sometimes see them as people or animals. Its has being starting to scare me, i have told my friends in a joking manner about it, trying to add humour, but the more i think about it i think i forcing myself to believe it, and also i have lately developed a somewhat 'twin personality' sometimes i feel happy, jolly and good. while others i feel hatred, malice and evil towards people, i know im doing it but it feels right at the time, but after i question why i had done it, and at times i feel myself drawing pictures of demons, and anti-semitic things for no reason, it pains me but it seems so right at the time. My latest was the world in a glass and a sign saying god has us all trapped.

What would you recommend i do? should i just wait it out, i feel as though it will go away in time.

Moderator's reply: while we cannot offer medical advice, common sense would suggest visiting your doctor for a mental health assessment. good luck!

anon11898
Post 5

my friend is 19 years old, i have only known her for a few months, we study the same course. She's been feeling very down and emotional as she mentions all the time that she thinks nobody likes her, she questions everything/any comment she receives and will openly tell everyone that she feels they don't like her and is very defensive and easily offended always and to extremes. It seems that now most people find it hard to be around her as this makes her very hard to deal with. I think this is a result of the persona she is creating by the kind of comments she repeats, showing to be very weak, paranoid, self-conscious and submissive. A lot of people have responded by telling her she is being paranoid and she finds this extremely offensive and doesn't like the word to be associated with her. She says that she has always been that way, even at primary school, but now as she has begun uni away from home, it has began to effect her more. It seems that she is now feeling her insecurities on a deeper level which is worsening the issue as she really exerts a strong and quite obvious lack in the ability to trust other people so much so that it is effecting her ability to build close friendships. This is because people don't have the patience or ability to deal with her behavior towards them. I would like to know what I can suggest to her to improve her confidence and trust in people when she talks to me (she likes to talk about it) without her becoming offended, as I don't believe she would allow herself to acknowledge that may be a mental issue which she needs to seek help for.

anon11101
Post 4

i have a grandson, whom is 21 yrs old. he was once a very popular teenager, now he is paranoid, hears voices, his personal appearances is suffering, he is neglecting his personal hygiene. does this behavior seem familiar to anyone on here?

Moderator's reply: he should definitely be seen by a psychiatrist immediately.

hotbabe
Post 3

How to avoid being paranoid when most of your loved ones had betrayed you, How do you bring the trust back?

hotbabe
Post 2

Is paranoia what you call, when you lose trust to someone who cheated and lied to you so many times?

rossgrl07
Post 1

Do you think paranoia is related to sexual abuse? I cannot find anything that relates the two. thanks

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