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Paranoid Personality Disorder Treatment

Paranoia vs. Paranoid Personality Disorder

Paranoid personality disorder is one of ten recognized personality disorders in the DSM-V, and it is part of a cluster of personality disorders known as eccentric or odd personality disorders, alongside schizoid personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder.

Paranoid personality disorder is characterized by deep mistrust, chronic feelings of betrayal or being deceived, irrational outbursts of anger, and frequent feelings of jealousy. Paranoia is at the root of a paranoid personality disorder.

Paranoia is described as an irrational, yet overwhelming mistrust or suspicion. It is a symptom rather than a condition and is often present in anxiety disorders. A person can display and experience paranoia without any history of mental health issues – but regardless of how the feeling arose, a key element in any case of paranoia is that it is delusional.

For example, whether you are being followed is not the important criteria for whether your fear or concern can be considered paranoid – the differentiating factor is rational proof. If you have good reason to believe you are being followed, backed by adequate proof, your concern wouldn’t be paranoid. But that obsession with a danger that may or may not exist, as well as a suspicion of others for no real reason, is what makes paranoia – and paranoid personality disorder – a dysfunctional mental health issue.

Teens can develop paranoid personality disorder. In addition to genetic risk factors, paranoid personality disorder is more likely to develop in teens with traumatic childhood experiences, as well as a family history of schizophrenia or other disorders with elements of psychosis, or derealization.

Signs and Symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder

The primary characteristic of paranoid personality disorder is paranoia, but it is not the only characteristic. Among its formal signs and symptoms, paranoid personality disorder usually involves:

  • Bearing grudges towards others and being generally unforgiving towards people.
  • Searching and finding a hidden meaning in other people’s words and messages, although none was intended.
  • Being secretive or “cold” in the eyes of others.
  • Short temper and quick to confrontation.
  • Constant fear of being harmed or thought less of by others.
  • Taking criticism very poorly.
  • Being suspicious about nearly everyone, including and especially towards close friends, family members, and partners/spouses.
  • Not taking the blame in any conflict, or seeing oneself as impartial or blameless, or even always right.
  • Overly agitated and hypervigilant.
  • Excessive stubbornness and argumentativeness.

Another defining characteristic of paranoid personality disorder is that it is very difficult to convince a teen with paranoid personality disorder that they are wrong about their suspicions, no matter what these might be. This makes it hard to convince a teen that they need help. To make matters worse, suggesting that they need help might even convince your teen that you’re conspiring against them.

Most of the time, people who are diagnosed with paranoid personality disorder go to a mental health professional because of a comorbid condition, such as anxiety symptoms or depression. A thorough psychological assessment may reveal a personality disorder, but that does not mean they will necessarily accept the assessment. When a doctor or psychiatrist thinks a patient might have paranoid personality disorder, they will focus on vague, broad questions rather than drawing suspicion with specifics to try and better assess a patient’s history, relationships, mental state, and behavioral patterns.

Your approach when dealing with a teen with paranoid personality disorder about potential treatment must be considered carefully. Talk to a mental health professional for personal advice given your specific circumstances. While interventions are less likely to be successful, a careful approach is both warranted and important.

How is Paranoid Personality Disorder Treated in Teens?

Paranoid personality disorder can be difficult to treat, in part because patients are often reluctant to get help, and in part because over three-fourths of teens and adults with paranoid personality disorder struggle with at least one other personality disorder, most often borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, or avoidant personality disorder.

Furthermore, teens with paranoid personality disorder are also more likely than their peers to struggle with substance use disorder, and anxiety problems, like panic attacks.

These comorbid and co-occurring mental health issues can quickly exacerbate a teen’s paranoia and their anxiety symptoms. Treating paranoid personality disorder requires a delicate approach, and a focus on intensive one-on-one talk therapy.

Rapport, and the quality of the relationship between a therapist and their patient, is much more important in the treatment of paranoid personality disorder than most mental health conditions. Working with a patient can take time, as they must learn to slowly trust their therapist, and understand that the goal of the treatment process is to help them achieve healthier relationships, and a stronger, healthier grasp on reality.

Depending on the severity of certain symptoms, medication may be prescribed in addition to talk therapy. These medications include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotic medication.

Paranoid Personality Disorder Treatment at the Arrow House

At the Arrow House, we’re aware of the difficulties and challenges of finding an adequate and successful treatment plan for a teen with paranoid personality disorder, especially if they have been diagnosed with other concurrent mental health issues.

Our intensive residential treatment plans help teens get comfortable in a new and treatment-oriented environment, alongside their peers. While a new environment can be difficult to adjust to, we make the transition into treatment as pleasant as possible through high-quality luxury amenities and a residential setting.

In addition to one-on-one therapy, we provide group therapies, different treatment modalities, and have multiple mental health professionals on staff to monitor and adjust a patient’s treatment, including the use of medications for severe symptoms (such as severe depression or episodes of psychosis). Get in touch with us today to learn more about treating a paranoid personality disorder in teens.