How is paranoia diagnosed?

Paranoia is not a diagnosis in its own right. If you experience paranoid thoughts or feelings, this will usually be seen as a symptom of another mental health problem. The most common diagnoses related to paranoia are:

Paranoid schizophrenia

Paranoid schizophrenia is a type of schizophrenia that features extreme paranoid thoughts. If you experience paranoid schizophrenia, you may hear voices as well as have paranoid thoughts, and these voices may make your feelings of paranoia worse. You may also feel the voices are mocking or threatening you, which is likely to cause you further distress. You might also believe that you are an important or powerful person, such as a religious figure or a member of royalty, and you may feel that this is why you are being persecuted.

Delusional or paranoid disorder

If you experience delusional or paranoid disorder, you are likely to develop one particular paranoid idea which may be complex in nature. This may put you in conflict with those around you. You are more likely to contact the police or a lawyer than a psychiatrist for help, as you will feel certain your persecution is real.

Paranoid personality disorder

You may be diagnosed with paranoid personality disorder if you have been having paranoid feelings for some time, perhaps for several years or even decades. If you have received this diagnosis, you are likely to feel very suspicious and find it difficult to trust other people. You might feel that other people are plotting against you, and will find it difficult to accept the suggestion that these feelings might be exaggerated or unfounded.

Other diagnoses

If you experience paranoid feelings alongside other symptoms, you may receive one of the following diagnoses, depending on what the other symptoms are:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Severe anxiety
  • Severe depression
  • Postnatal psychosis
  • Schizoaffective disorder

You can find more information about these diagnoses in Mind’s booklets.

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