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Understanding Mental Disorder

Paranoid personality disorder (PPD)


Overview of PPD

Whereby an individual shows patterns of distrust and suspiciousness regarding the actions of others, assuming them to be hostile or malevolent. These individuals may believe others are ‘out to get them’ without any evidence and may spend a large proportion of their time thinking about whether they can trust their friends, family and others around them. Because of this, they may have trouble sharing their feelings with others, in fear that this information can be used against them at a later date. These individuals may be hypersensitive to criticism or may perceive a normal comment to be an attack on them and hold grudges for long periods.

Causes

While the cause of PPD is unknown, researchers believe that development of this disorder is attributed to a combination of biological and environmental factors. There is a higher prevalence of PPD in individuals with a family history of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. However, we are unable to disentangle whether there is a biological element involved, or whether individuals model their behaviour on their relatives, in this case modelling the paranoia element of schizophrenic disorders. Childhood trauma is a risk factor for developing PPD, in particular physical abuse, or emotional trauma such as neglect and coming from a chaotic household.

Treatment

Cognitive behavioural therapy can be helpful in PPD to help individuals understand their thoughts and modify them, helping them to understand that their paranoid thoughts are not always founded on reality. CBT can also help individuals develop healthy relationships with their own emotions, as well as with others. Therapies that focus on validating and accepting the clients experience to reduce feelings of judgement are also useful. Medications such as antidepressants or anti-psychotics may be prescribed to treat individual symptoms.

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