So many of us struggle with paranoia. I’m nothing special in that arena.
Lately, I have had a serious bout with paranoia.
In the last few weeks I’ve almost gotten in 3-car accidents, and almost took my car into the mechanics shops for no good reason thinking is was about to breakdown due to an unfamiliar noise.
Because of paranoia.
During this time I have near panic attacks. My heart starts racing, my head gets dizzy, I start to sweat, and my vision becomes compromised.
Not a good recipe for driving safe!
My husband has had to make an executive decision, and stopped me from driving for a while.
This isn’t uncommon you see. During this time of year I tend to go through this. Now, I’m not going through mania or depression.
It’s just my type 1 bipolar disorder kicking in. I believe, anyway.
I’ve talked to my therapist about this, and my husband (who is my caretaker), and both suggest that I try a technique called “resourcing.”
It’s where you close your eyes (Not while driving a car, mind you) and try to ground yourself. Think of a place you feel comfortable and safe.
Stay there until the moment passes. It’s quite relaxing, if I may say so!
Besides bipolar disorder, here are a few things that can cause or contribute to paranoia:
- Stressful life events: losing a job, losing a loved one, breaking up a relationship, moving to a new city
- Lack of sleep
- Childhood trauma/PTSD
- Certain drugs and alcohol
There are honestly a slew of reasons we get paranoid.
What is paranoia?
An individual suffering from paranoia feels suspicious, and has a sense that other people want to do him or her harm. As a result, the paranoid individual changes his or her actions in response to a world that is perceived as personally threatening. Objective observers may be quite clear on the fact that no one’s words or actions are actually threatening the paranoid individual. The hallmark of paranoia is a feeling of intense distrust and suspiciousness that is not in response to input from anybody or anything in the paranoid individual’s environment.
Other symptoms of paranoia may include:
- Self-referential thinking: The sense that other people in the world (even complete strangers on the street) are always talking about the paranoid individual.
- Thought broadcasting: The sense that other people can read the paranoid individual’s mind.
- Magical thinking: The sense that the paranoid individual can use his or her thoughts to influence other people’s thoughts and actions.
- Thought withdrawal: The sense that people are stealing the paranoid individual’s thoughts.
- Thought insertion: The sense that people are putting thoughts into the paranoid individual’s mind.
- Ideas of reference: The sense that the television and/or radio are specifically addressing the paranoid individual.
Causes of paranoia?
Researchers do not understand fully what chemical or physical changes in the brain cause paranoia. Paranoia is a prominent symptom that occurs in a variety of mental disorders, as well as a symptom of certain physical diseases. Furthermore, use of certain drugs or chemicals may cause symptoms of paranoia in an otherwise normal individual.
Things you can do to help yourself along:
- Stay calm and try not to live in a series of panics. People who experience this kind of situation under stress but are still connected to reality and real events (if this is not psychosis) need to be able to assure themselves that it will pass, and that change is possible. Positive thinking may help.
- Do not diagnose or treat any psychological or mental issues without help from mental health professionals.
- Seek a diagnosis and advice from a psychologist, psychotherapist, a clinical social worker, or a psychiatrist trained in dealing with emotional and mental health. Such a professional, who has training and experience in these matters, might lead the sufferer through some steps necessary to find the source of the delusional thinking and fears. They may advise other ways of coping or about seeking psychiatric or medical intervention in more difficult experiences.
- Realize that if self-control is not possible or is very erratic then the person may not be able to improve without some form of medication for limiting stress.