Paranoia: Excessive suspicion sparks unrealistic worries

11 Feb 2024 08:30pm
Photo for illustration purposes only.
Photo for illustration purposes only.

SHAH ALAM - It is normal for everyone to experience feelings of anxiety at times.

This emotion that disturbed the mind may be triggered by financial constraints, deteriorating health or a social environment surrounded by negative auras.

However, self-created worries without reasonable grounds constitute a mental health issue called paranoia.

According to Mind Help, paranoia is an uncommon thinking pattern.

It involved irrational beliefs and delusions.

"Paranoid individuals always harbour unrealistic worries, suspicions, distrust and feel constantly threatened.

"Such non-reality situations can adversely affect their lives, causing them to feel afraid, anxious, tired and alienated," said Mind Help.

Clinical psychologist at Jiwadamai Psychology Specialist Centre Putrajaya Mohamed Nasrun Mohamed Zikrillah said paranoia tends to occur in older people who create their own worries.

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Usually, those experiencing dementia problems have delusional or paranoid issues.

It can happen to anyone. An interesting example is an elderly person living in rural areas facing such feelings and would feel excessive fear about something.

"For example, someone passing in front of his house is considered a thief. He may also worry that his child living far away will have an accident while returning home," he said in an interview.

The emotional problems that haunte them made them prone to feelings of fear, anxiety, or excessive worrying.

Trauma, psychiatric disorders

Basically, paranoia can be associated with several types of problems, namely:


-Delusional disorder

-Personality disorder

Explaining the first category, paranoia, Nasrun said a person may have negative prejudices towards others and believe they have evil intentions.

For the delusional disorder category, he said they have false beliefs and these 'patent' beliefs were created by themselves.

"Patients have difficulty identifying reality, irrational, always feel threatened and that situation will definitely jeopardise their daily lives.

"Although we may consider what they think is strange, unfair and impossible, this group always feels that what they are doing is right.

"Anyone can face it," Nasrun said.

He said those who sufferred from personality disorder have a quick worrying character and often do not trust others.

"Their behaviour may exist for too long and stem from trauma or childhood education. Behaviour or suspicious attitudes can cause difficulties in interaction and socialisation," he added.

Why can paranoia occur?

Nasrun did not deny that economic pressure was one of the factors that could influence it.

Other factors may be caused by past trauma, leading to mistrust and suspicion towards others.

Experiences that may allow this to happen included childhood abuse or a dysfunctional households resulting in broken marriages.

Technological advancements cannot be denied. Starting with the effects of television and then social media can also trigger paranoia.

Referring to WebMD, a person may indirectly develop paranoid thoughts due to lack of sleep, stress, psychiatric disorders, substance abuse such as drugs and alcohol and memory loss.

In addition, linked it to genetic issues, but the extent of accuracy was still uncertain.

As a psychologist who has dealt with many cases, Nasrun shared a story about one of his patients who experienced delusional disorder.

He said the male patient created a fear that he would lose his beloved wife.

"He was willing to quit his job to keep an eye on his wife. He thought the woman would cheat on him behind his back.

"Such thoughts made him turn into an angry person and threatened anyone who approached his wife, even though the situation did not happen," he said.

Seeing the deviation of such 'ideologies', the wife took her husband to get psychological treatment.

"Due to excessive fear, even during the consultation process, he did not want to enter alone because he was afraid that the woman would leave him. I then referred him to a psychiatrist for further treatment," he said.


Shah Alam Hospital psychiatrist Dr Nurul Syuhaida Abdul Razak said paranoid syndrome patients usually faced other health problems such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, schizophreniform, or other psychotic disorders.

"When doctors try to understand the problems they face, they are found to have different thinking patterns. Symptoms may not be noticed by the patient, but they are reported by their family and people around them," she said.

Dr Nurul Syuhaida admitted that patients in the group were difficult to treat. This was because they also felt paranoid about the doctor they met, including the medicine prescribed.

"Doubt and anxiety can cause them to think that the treatment process they undergo will 'harm' them again," she said.

Furthermore, she said there were two branches in recovering from paranoid, namely pharmacological and pharmacotherapy treatments.

The pharmacological method referred to medications that reduce anxiety and psychosis. In simple terms, it helps to stabilise emotions.

Pharmacotherapy is therapy that guides patients to develop certain skills to overcome their thinking patterns.

"This technique is carried out to improve communication, social and interpersonal skills of patients towards other individuals. They are also taught to identify problems and act more rationally," she said.

From one perspective, paranoia can be controlled through education, emotional support and being in a positive environment.

What will happen if those who are suffering from this is not being treated?

Dr Nurul Syuhaida said a person may experience other mental health problems (such as schizophrenia, schizophreniform, or psychotic disorders).

"However, what is more worrying is that they start to harm themselves or want to commit suicide," she said.

Whatever the disease were, Dr Nurul Syuhaida said support from family members, friends and close people were very important.

"Do not judge them and try to understand what is playing on the patient's mind. The support provided helps them control their wrong thoughts and behaviour," she said.

Patients are advised to engage in recreational activities to reconstruct their thinking. Among the activities that can be done included exercising, reciting poetry, singing or praying.