Anxiety and paranoia
People are expected to go through some levels of anxiety in the course of their lives. However, the instances of panic and worry should be short-lived and have limited impacts on the life of a person. Anxiety disorders arise when a person undergoes an extended and consistent period of worry and panic that affects their daily activities and general health. Anxiety manifests itself in three primary ways: generalized, panic and social anxiety disorders. The various types of anxiety disorders exhibit different symptoms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2016), people affected with generalized anxiety disorder show excessive anxiety or worry for up to several months. Generalized anxiety disorder is indicated by restlessness, becoming easily fatigued irritability, inability to concentrate at work as well as sleep problems.
Panic anxiety disorder, on the other hand, is indicated by unexpected panic attacks that recur of a given period. During the episodes of panic attacks, the victims may exhibit palpitations, increased heart rates as well as shaking. Such persons often avoid places where they have experienced the episodes of panic attacks previously. Additionally, the victims worry about the time of the next episode of an attack. The third variant of anxiety disorder is social anxiety disorder. In this case, the affected persons tend to develop intense fear in situations where they expect people to react towards them negatively. For instance being humiliated, judged, rejected and other embarrassing reactions. Such persons find it hard to engage other people through talking or otherwise and stay away from people. They also have limited number of friends, as they are afraid of being judged.
Different theories have been fronted to explain the causes of the various types of anxiety disorders. Many cases of anxieties are hereditary meaning that they run in families. Childhood circumstances may also predispose a person to develop anxiety. Besides the childhood environment, anxiety is also associated with the biological imbalances in the brain of a person (Bourne, 2011). The differences in the types of anxiety are based on the part of the brain affected. Some diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases may also predispose a person to develop anxiety disorders. Stress, trauma and drug abuse may also cause anxiety disorders.
Upon diagnosis with any of the different types of anxiety disorders, a person may be subjected to different kinds of treatment methods available. The most common treatments are psychotherapy and administration of chemotherapeutic agents. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy designed to help the patients modify their tendencies to counter the various forms of anxiety. Through cognitive and exposure therapies, the victims can adjust their lifestyles and behaviors in a manner that limits the occurrence of the different forms of the anxiety disorders. Medications can also be administered to treat the various forms of anxiety disorders. Though used for depression, antidepressants have been found to be effective in the minimization of anxiety disorders and help patients cope. There also medications specifically designed for the treatment of the symptoms of anxiety. Such include benzodiazepines that are effective in many cases of generalized anxiety disorder.
Paranoia refers to the state of mind of a person where the victim believes that other people have ill motives towards them. It entails an intense anxiety and fear emanating from persecutions or threats. Paranoid persons have a feeling that people are watching, following or monitoring every step of their lives. They often believe at any given time; there is a conspiracy against them is some way. Further, the people affected by paranoia often exemplify a feeling of self-importance with the belief that other people are noticing their presence while in reality such are a just fallacy. Simplified, paranoid people mistrust other people based on perceptions rather than justified facts.
As reiterated in the introduction, paranoid persons exemplify distrust of persons and situation to a significant extent. Multiple symptoms may lead to conclusions about a paranoia condition. The affected persons exemplify suspicion of being exploited, harmed or being lied to without a concise factual basis. When dealing with friends and associates, such persons often display unjustified doubts about the loyalty of the friends. Paranoid persons tend to be secretive tending to shy away from divulging details about themselves due to the belief that the information may be utilized in conspiracies against them. The state of paranoia may extend from dealing with outsiders to affect the people close to the affected persons. For instance, a paranoid may be suspicious of infidelity in their marriages without a warranted reason. Also, paranoia leads to the victims reacting angrily to situations with an unjustified perception of an attack on their character.
However, no single factor has been linked to the development of paranoia. However, the condition is believed to result from an interplay of biological, psychological and social factors. The nature of the interaction between a person and other people during development may predispose one to become paranoid later in life. This means that the way other people treat a person tends to influence their perceptions leading to paranoia. The personality of a person, especially temperament when influenced by the environment may lead to paranoia. In this regard, the disorder emanates from a combination of factors (D. Freeman & J. Freeman, 2008).
Like in the case of anxiety disorders, paranoia can be treated using different methods. Psychotherapy takes center stage in the treatment of the condition considering that it is a mental disorder. Psychotherapists have to subject victims of the condition to a series of counseling sessions in a bid to help them cope with the mental disorder. Psychotherapy is also administered to enhance communication and social interactions of the affected patients. Although psychotherapy remains the preferred treatment method for the conditions, due to the distrust attribute of the paranoid persons, many fail to adhere to the instructions of the psychotherapists. Medications may also be administered in the treatment of paranoia though in a limited number of cases. Conventionally, antidepressants and antianxiety drugs are the ones used in the treatment of the condition. The medications are usually administered of the paranoia emanates from other mental conditions such as depression and anxiety.
- Bourne, E. J. (2011). The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications.
- Freeman, D., & Freeman, J. (2008). Paranoia: The 21st century fear. Oxford University Press.
- National Institute of Mental Disorders. (2016). Anxiety Disorders. Nimh.nih.gov.