Paranoia

Explains paranoia, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.

Your stories

My experience of psychosis

Louise
Posted on 24/10/2013

Hearing voices

Lucy
Posted on 09/01/2013

Rediscovering words and writing

Charlie
Posted on 22/05/2013

How can I help myself?

If you are experiencing paranoid thoughts – or think that you might be – there are things you can do to help yourself cope. You may choose to try them on their own or alongside treatment.

Keep a diary

You may find it helpful to keep a diary recording, for example:

  • what your paranoid thoughts are
  • how you feel about them
  • how often you think about them
  • your sleep
  • other life events

You could do this in a notebook or use an app or online tool like MoodPanda. You might find it helpful to give the thoughts a number from 1–10 to show how strongly you believe them and how distressing you find them.

This may help you:

  • identify what might be triggering your paranoia and when you are most likely to have paranoid thoughts
  • recognise paranoid thoughts when they occur and help you question and challenge them
  • think about what has been helpful in the past

Once you have a better understanding of your triggers, you can try to take steps to avoid them.

Questioning and challenging paranoid thoughts


Asking yourself these questions can help you work out whether your suspicious thoughts are paranoid or justified.

  • Would other people think my suspicions are realistic?
  • What would my best friend say?
  • Have I talked to other people about my worries?
  • Is it possible I have exaggerated the threat?
  • Is there any evidence for my suspicions that can't be questioned?
  • Are my worries based on events that could be viewed in different ways?
  • Are my worries based on my feelings rather than definite evidence?
  • Is it likely that I would be singled out above everyone else?
  • Is there any evidence against my beliefs?
  • Is it possible that I'm being oversensitive?
  • Do I still feel suspicious even though other people have reassured me that there is no reason to be?

Look for support around you

  • Talk about your thoughts with someone you trust. You may find that talking about your thoughts with a trusted friend or family member can reduce stress and help you to question and challenge paranoid thoughts. You could share this information with them, particularly the information for friends and family. If you don't have someone you feel you can trust, the Samaritans are there for anyone in distress 24 hours a day.

I've found it becomes easier and less straining on yourself once you share your thoughts with someone else.

  • Stay in touch. Try to keep in contact with people around you and make time for activities that make you feel good. Avoiding family and friends and giving up on hobbies and interests you enjoy can make you feel isolated in the long run.
  • Try peer support. Peer support brings together people who’ve had similar experiences to support each other. You can access peer support online or go to a support group in your local area. You can find peer support groups for paranoia through The National Paranoia Network or Rethink.

You can also contact your local Mind to help you find peer support near you. See our pages on peer support and our peer support directory for more information.

Learn to relax

  • Try mindfulness. There is some evidence that mindfulness can help reduce mild paranoia. Our pages on mindfulness have more info.
  • Manage your stress. Our pages on managing stress can help you manage pressure and build resilience.
  • Try some relaxation techniques. Relaxation can help you look after your wellbeing when you are feeling stressed, anxious or busy.

Look after yourself

  • Try to get enough sleep. Sleep can give you the energy to cope with difficult feelings and experiences.
  • Think about your diet. Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable can make a difference to your mood and energy levels.
  • Try and take some exercise. Exercise can be really helpful for your mental wellbeing.
  • Doing practical things like gardening, cooking or making things can help you feel more connected to the world around you. Being outside in green space can help you feel more in touch with your surroundings.

This information was published in November 2016. We will revise it in 2019.


Mental Health A-Z

Information and advice on a huge range of mental health topics

> Read our A-Z

Training

Helping you to better understand and support people with mental health problems

> Find out more

Special offers

Check out our promotional offers on print and digital booklets, for a limited time only

> Visit our shop today