Paranoia can be a diagnostic tool to find a deeper mental health issue, but in the above conditions, it is the primary affecting symptom. Genetics may cause these conditions, as can brain damage due to an illness, injury, or substance abuse. Traumatic events in life, such as experiencing conflict in war or childhood sexual trauma, can also trigger these conditions.
To diagnose paranoia, a physician will take a medical history, conduct a physical examination, and perform psychological tests or refer the individual to a psychologist for a questionnaire or interview appointment. It is important to find the cause of the paranoia, such as a physical condition or other mental health issue, so the condition can be treated appropriately. Multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other underlying medical conditions can cause paranoia and should be treated differently than a mental illness.
Therapy is one of the best ways to help people struggling with paranoia improve their social functioning. They can learn coping skills, techniques to reduce anxiety, and how to build trust in others or their surroundings. Unfortunately, people experiencing paranoia may have difficulty trusting their therapist and will not be willing to talk openly about their experiences, so anti-anxiety or antipsychotic medications can help ease symptoms. In extreme cases of paranoia, people may be hospitalized to prevent them from harming themselves or others.