If you suffer from anxiety, there is a good chance that you may also suffer from paranoia. If you suffer from paranoia, there is a good chance that you may also suffer from anxiety. However, just because you have one, does not mean that you have the other. While they can go hand-in-hand, that is not always the case. But before you can understand how paranoia and anxiety are so similar, you must first understand why there are so different.
What Is Paranoia?
Paranoia is characterized by intense, fearful feelings and is often times related to thoughts of conspiracy, persecution, and threats. While often occurring in many different mental disorders, paranoia is more often than not present in several psychotic disorders. With paranoia, irrational beliefs and thoughts are made out to be real and absolutely nothing, not even factual evidence disproving the belief is able to convince you that you are wrong. When you have delusions or paranoia and not other symptoms, you may have something known as a delusional disorder. Since only your thoughts would be impacted with a delusional disorder, you will still be able to function and work in your everyday life. Outside of work, however, your life would be isolated and extremely limited.
Signs of Paranoia
Some of the symptoms you can expect to see if you are suffering from paranoia may include an intense and even irrational lack of trust or even suspicion about something or someone. This lack of trust or suspicion has the potential to bring you a sense of betrayal, fear, and anger. In fact, if you do suffer from paranoia, you may show symptoms such as:
- Difficulty in forgiving
- Fear of being taken advantage of
- Defensiveness towards imagined criticism
- Thoughts that everyone is out to get you
- Inability to relax
Paranoia is caused by a breakdown of a couple different emotional and mental functions. Those functions all involve both assigned meanings, as well as reasoning. While there is no real reason known for the breakdowns, they are definitely extremely varied and uncertain. At the same time, there are also several symptoms of paranoia that are related to denied, projected or repressed feelings. What is known about the cause of paranoia, however, is that often it is the feelings and thoughts which are related to relationships or certain events in your life that cause the problem. Since these events are typically more personal, more often than not this is the reason those who suffer from paranoia prefer to be isolated and have increasing difficulty when it comes to getting help.
What Is Anxiety?
For most, anxiety is more of a general term that covers multiple disorders that cause fear, worrying, nervousness and apprehension. All of these ‘anxiety’ related disorders affect how we behave and feel, and can eventually lead to physical symptoms as well. While a mild case of anxiety can be unsettling and vague, a more severe case of anxiety can be so serious as to affect your everyday life. The exact definition of anxiety according to the APA (American Psychological Association) is “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” With that being said of the varying degrees of anxiety, it is very important to identify the differences between the feelings of normal anxiety, as compared to a full-on anxiety disorder that requires some type of medical attention. When you are faced with a potentially worrying or harmful trigger that is when feelings of anxiety are felt. They are not just normal, but actually required for your survival. You see, ever since the beginning of humanity, certain situations have set off alarms within the human body letting us know that we need to do some evasive actions. These ‘alarms’ came in the form of sweating, a heightened awareness of surroundings and an increased heart rate. It is known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. In today’s day and age, this same fight or flight response doesn’t come from dangerous predators, but rather money, work, health, family life and a plethora of other issues demanding your attention. For example, the nervous feeling that you get right before giving a speech in front of 1,500 of your peers, or even the feeling that you will be hit by a car while you are crossing the street. This nervous feeling is essentially brought on by any difficult situation or nervous feeling you might have before some important life event.
An anxiety disorder is essentially when the symptoms, duration, and severity of your anxious feeling are blown out of proportion. An anxiety disorder can lead to several physical symptoms such as nausea and high blood pressure. If these physical symptoms are observed, it is no longer considered anxiety, but an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder occurs when you have a reaction that is out of proportion to what is considered normal within a certain situation. There are several different types of anxiety disorders that include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic Disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Social anxiety disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
While anxiety and paranoia are two completely separate conditions, certain anxiety symptoms can include and will lead to paranoia. If you have paranoia, the chances are that you got to that point in your life through having more severe degrees of anxiety. While the causes and symptoms of both anxiety and paranoia are different, they will eventually find each other to cause you to have both conditions. It is true that you can be paranoid and not have any signs of anxiety; it is also true that you can have anxiety with no signs of paranoia. No matter what the situation of your symptoms may be, if you ever feel like you are overly anxious, or that you feel like you may be paranoid, the best thing you can do for yourself is to seek out medical help before your conditions become too severe.