There is always a fear that something terrible will happen — and it could be anything! For instance, you may feel busy shopping centers are going to be bombed. Therefore you can't go near them.
You may think other people or external things are responsible. You may fear people cannot be trusted, as they have wronged you in some way.
Paranoid beliefs can be exaggerated, unfounded and irrational. There is often no evidence to show the thoughts are realistic.
Different Types of Threats
You could feel at emotional risk, like I did when I felt everyone was talking about me behind my back.
Or you could feel at risk of physical harm where you believe someone might be trying to hurt you or even kill you. You may also think you are at financial risk and think someone is trying to steal from you.
Paranoia Impacts Your Day-To-Day Life
It is incredibly stressful to try and cope with bipolar paranoia. We all know how destructive stress can be and the impact it can have on your body.
Also, we might have anxiety, panic attacks, sweat, shake or have headaches. We may experience bipolar cognitive impairment. Therefore we might struggle with concentrating or remembering things.
We might sleep less, which can impact how we deal with our day-to-day tasks. We may feel unable to cope with work.
Your routine may change, impacting when and what you eat. And what about our appearance? We may feel unable to wash ourselves and forget to take care of what we look like.
We can guarantee that all of the above will induce worry, fear, mistrust, and anxiety with feelings of victimization, frustration and being misunderstood. In turn, we will isolate ourselves from others with the fear of being judged.
What Causes Paranoia?
There could be numerous reasons, which include the following:
- Life experiences, which can make you vulnerable and stressed, and distrusting relationships could fuel suspicious thoughts.
- Physical illness, as paranoia can be a symptom of dementia, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease or stroke.
- Drugs and alcohol.
- Lack of sleep.
- Childhood trauma or abuse.
- Anxiety and depression.
What Can Help?
We need to look after ourselves, making sure we eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly.
Mindfulness is a great technique to train your mind to think of the present instead of ruminating over past or future thoughts.
It is worth keeping a diary to spot patterns of thought and be aware of any changes. If you're fearful paranoid thoughts are regularly occurring, you need to go and see your doctor.
When talking to others, always choose someone you trust as you are in a vulnerable state and need listening and understanding — any judgment will only fuel the paranoia.
It's also important to challenge your thinking using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), where you interject your thought process to change your feelings and actions.
For example, “everyone is talking about me” could alternatively be, “I have no proof, all my friends are being nice, maybe they whispered about someone else, maybe their facial expressions look stressed because they have stuff going on at home.”
When thoughts go haywire and are difficult to control, relaxation is incredibly helpful. Learning to do deep breathing techniques as a way to calm the body is highly effective.
Ultimately, if you are paranoid, you need to seek a mental health professional. Tell someone you trust about your situation, try and take some evidence, and get the right help from qualified professionals.