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Individuals with severe trust issues may hesitate to participate in professional mental health programs. However, chronic distrust can turn into paranoid personality disorder (PPD) or other mental health disorders if left untreated. Individuals with a history of trauma have a higher risk of developing PPD. According to Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports, “Available data indicate that PPD has a close relationship with childhood trauma and social stress.” Early intervention and treatment provide the best outcomes for individuals with diagnosed or undiagnosed PPD. Alter Wellness Care treats complex disorders using a trauma-informed approach and personalized care.
What Is Paranoid Personality Disorder?
Individuals diagnosed with PPD have a high distrust of other people. In addition, they often find typical interactions suspicious or threatening. Those with PPD often display eccentric traits and may have difficulty making healthy social connections. According to the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, “(PPD) has a prevalence rate of approximately 2–4% in the general population, and the [DSM-5] characterizes individuals with PPD as displaying pervasive and enduring suspiciousness and guardedness.”
Moreover, people with PPD react disproportionally to perceived betrayal, rejection, or deception. Individuals with this disorder genuinely believe they are in danger and that their reactions are appropriate. After encountering a situation where they feel threatened in some way, a person with PPD may do the following:
- Attempt to control the situation and anyone involved
- Act aggressively or lash out in anger
- Deflect by blaming others for the situation
In many cases, people with PPD anticipate being betrayed or harmed in some way, and their standoffish and suspicious behaviors are self-protective. The symptoms often lead to socially isolating behaviors. Family members may have difficulty relating to loved ones with PPD. However, family engagement during recovery can significantly increase the effectiveness of treatment.
Common Symptoms and Side Effects
The symptoms and side effects of PPD exist along a spectrum. Sometimes, they overlap with co-occurring mental health disorders, making them difficult to identify. Below are some of the most common symptoms of PPD:
- Extreme distrust of others, sometimes from a very young age
- Holding long-term grudges for even minor inconveniences
- Constant suspicion of other people and their intentions
- Believing romantic partners are unfaithful regardless of evidence to the contrary
- Extreme fear of betrayal and feeling any slight or rejection is a betrayal
- Perceiving even innocent activities as personally threatening in some way
Individuals with PPD are rigid in their beliefs, hypersensitive, aggressive, and introverted. Often, these traits cause people with PPD to self-isolate from everyone, including family members. The isolation intensifies symptoms and causes severe side effects, including:
- Difficulty completing basic tasks of daily living
- Reduced quality of life
- Difficulty maintaining a job and financial insecurity
People diagnosed with PPD may appear eccentric, angry, or withdrawn. Often, they feel persecuted by individuals or groups who force them to acknowledge their irrational beliefs. People with PPD are more likely to respond positively to individual rather than group therapy. Spending time with peers may increase symptoms and cause additional paranoia or fear. Family and individual therapy are often the best treatment options for individuals with PPD.
Additional Treatment Options for Paranoid Personality Disorder
PPD may require extended professional mental health treatment. Partial hospitalization (PHP) and intensive outpatient (IOP) programs support individuals struggling with paranoid thoughts and behaviors. According to MedlinePlus, “Treatment is difficult because people with PPD are often very suspicious of providers.” However, IOP and Partial hospitalization programs ensure clients have the time and space to organically grow to trust their care team without feeling rushed, forced, or pressured into making essential changes.
The most common treatment methods for PPD include:
- Family therapy
- Prescription medication
- Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Alternative holistic therapies
Treatment cannot cure PPD. However, treatment reduces the severity of symptoms and helps clients effectively manage their condition. Outpatient care is often ideal because it does not force people with active paranoia to live with strangers in an unfamiliar environment. Being able to return home each night, surrounded by loving family members, makes it easier for people with PPD to challenge their irrational thoughts and beliefs.
Managing Symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder During Treatment
Treatment involves confiding in and trusting a team of strangers. Individuals with PPD may struggle to believe their care team wants to help them manage their symptoms. Instead of feeling comforted by peer support or group therapy, clients with PPD may feel persecuted, threatened, or demeaned. Trauma-informed care is essential to providing a positive treatment outcome. Alter Wellness Care uses personalized trauma-informed care and evidence-based therapies to help clients heal and learn to manage symptoms.
A few ways clients can manage their symptoms during treatment and aftercare include:
- Positive self-talk and constant mental reminders that the care team is there to help, not harm
- Developing communication skills to reduce miscommunication or confusion
- Finding healthy ways to practice empathy and improve social interactions
- Using prescription medication to temporarily reduce symptoms during treatment
Individuals with PPD may react more positively to the increased freedom and flexibility of outpatient care, where they can return home each night and practice managing their symptoms in the real world. Alter Wellness Care offers IOP and PHP for individuals struggling with complex or persistent mental health disorders.
Individuals with paranoid personality disorder have difficulty trusting others or reaching out for help. Intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization treatment programs allow people with PPD to have more freedom which can reduce feelings of paranoia. The care team uses a trauma-informed approach to ensure clients feel safe and comfortable during treatment. In addition, each program offers personalized care to meet each client’s unique needs and preferences. If you or a loved one struggle with paranoid personality disorder, Alter Wellness Care can provide the care you need to heal. The clinical team uses various evidence-based and alternative holistic therapies to help clients manage their symptoms. Call us today at (866) 311-3510 to learn more.