Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD)

What is Paranoid Personality Disorder?

Paranoid Personality Disorder is one of a group of conditions called “Cluster A” personality disorders that involve eccentric or odd thinking and behaving, is more common in men than women, and appears around early adulthood.

Individuals with Paranoid Personality disorder also suffer from paranoia which causes them to mistrust and be suspicious of others without due cause.  These individuals believe that others are out to harm them and avoid confiding in others, hold on to resentment, and read negative meanings into harmless comments made by others.

A family history of delusional disorder or schizophrenia is often linked to a higher risk of developing a paranoid personality disorder.

What are the Symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder?

An unwillingness to forgive, hypersensitivity and the inability to accept constructive criticism. The person can become jealous and controlling in their relationships with others, tend to be socially isolated, exhibit stubbornness and can be very argumentative, lose their temper easily, suffer from an inability to see and accept their own flaws, believe that others are seeking to use or mislead them, have difficulty working with others, and doubt that others are loyal or trustworthy.

People with paranoid personality disorder cannot cope with criticism, are resentful and often hostile towards others, experience mood swings and are unable to trust other people.

Schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder share many traits which are typical of a paranoid personality disorders; therefore, it is often very hard for mental health specialists to clearly separate these conditions.

Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD) Causes

It isn’t clear what causes PPD, but experts believe that it is probably a combination of psychological and biological factors. For example, PPD appears to be particularly common in people who have close family members with delusional disorders and schizophrenia, which are closely linked with PPD. This suggests that certain genetic traits are to blame for the disorder.

However, in many instances of PPD there is evidence to suggest that childhood experiences could have contributed to the illness. Severe physical or emotional trauma experienced as a child might influence the way that people with PPD think and behave. There’s also a possibility that people with family members with schizophrenia or other delusional disorders have picked up certain behaviors or thought patterns from others which later develop into PPD.

How is Paranoid Personality Disorder Treated?

It can be very hard to treat Paranoid Personality Disorder because the individual is resistant to trusting or confiding in anyone. Those who accept treatment have a high rate of success. Talk therapy can help individuals communicate more effectively with others and reduce their feelings of mistrust.

Antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and antipsychotic medication are also prescribed to help treat the related conditions of anxiety and depression.

Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD) Prevention

Since the causes of PPD aren’t fully understood, it is not possible to prevent the disorder. However, individuals who have been diagnosed with PPD may be able to find treatment which might prevent the condition from causing significant problems throughout their life.

Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for people with PPD because it can help them to recognize their paranoid thought patterns and begin to develop more rational thoughts and behaviors. It’s important to gradually build a rapport with a psychotherapist, since many people with the disorder may struggle to trust psychotherapists, doctors and other clinicians.

Medication isn’t always a suitable treatment for PPD, since patients may be suspicious of the medications and be unwilling to take them. However, in cases where extreme anxiety is causing significant problems with day to day functioning, medications like diazepam may be helpful for relieving anxiety.

Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
December 20, 2017
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