by Dr. Becky Spelman on 11/08/2014
Living with Paranoia, Schizophrenia and Psychosis
The words “paranoia” and “Schizophrenia” are tossed about so much in everyday conversation that it can be easy to overlook the fact that it is a very painful, limiting factor of many very real mental health conditions.
What is paranoia and psychosis?
When someone is suffering from paranoia, they can find that their life is taken over by feelings of fear or anxiety. Of course, we are all scared and anxious sometimes, but someone who is suffering from paranoia will find that these emotions can take over to the point whereby they see exaggerated or non-existent threats in their everyday lives. They might feel sure that a family member or colleague is conspiring against them, for example, and find “proof” of this in even the most harmless interaction. They might read sinister meanings into benign coincidences, and feel that everyone they know is trying to harm them. As a result, paranoid people tend to find the world a very unfriendly, frightening place. If they make false accusations, as many do, it will become even harder to sustain positive relationships with others. At its most extreme, paranoia can coexist with serious delusions, and it can be a symptom of schizophrenic disorders, while it can also bear some relation to feelings of powerlessness within a challenging social situation. Many people who suffer from paranoia try to manage its debilitating symptoms by isolating themselves from the world and even giving up activities that they enjoy to reduce their contact with others.
Treating paranoia, schizophrenia and psychosis
Clearly, paranoia is a complex condition, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. It may be part of a broad affective disorder, such as schizophrenia, which requires treatment with medication. It is often necessary to eliminate the possibility that the condition is caused or exacerbated by an underlying physical condition.
Once the treating psychiatrist or psychologist is satisfied that the patient has been properly diagnosed and is receiving any necessary medication or other treatments, there are various approaches to managing paranoia that can make a huge difference to their quality of life. In particular, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been shown to be extremely effective in managing paranoia.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Paranoia, schizophrenia and psychosis
Working together, possibly in collaboration with your psychiatrist, you and your therapist agree what you hope to achieve with the therapy. You will have to be open with the therapist about your feelings and thoughts, and prepared to keep an eye on your behaviour and report back on progress. Over time, you will learn how to identify situations that tend to trigger paranoid thoughts and behaviours, how to respond more appropriately to them, and how to develop coping mechanisms that will make it easier for you to manage these symptoms.
The goal of cognitive therapy is not to “fix” you but to provide you with the tools you need to live your life normally, not allowing your paranoia to stand in the way of personal happiness and fulfilment. Because it focuses on your empowerment, your ability to live a happier life is within your grasp.
If you would like to talk to someone about counselling or therapy for feelings of paranoia, please get in touch with us at the Private Therapy Clinic. We are based in London and Dubai but offer therapy worldwide over Skype. You can reach us by telephone at 020 38871738 or book online by clicking below: