Explains paranoia, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.
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.
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.
Challenging yourself about your suspicious thoughts can help you work out whether these thoughts are paranoid or justified.
Here are some questions you could ask yourself:
- 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?
- Do I still feel suspicious even though other people have reassured me that there is no reason to be?
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.
Feeling connected to other people is an important part of staying well. It can help you to feel valued, confident and more able to face difficult times.
Feeling lonely or isolated could make your symptoms worse. If you don't feel like you have strong connections with people or you'd like to make more, it could help to explore support services and peer support.
Try peer support
Peer support brings together people who have had similar experiences. Some people find this very helpful.
There are lots of ways to find peer support. You could:
- see our list of useful contacts
- see our peer support directory
- ask your local Mind about peer support
- try an online peer support community like Side by Side (also see our information about staying safe online)
There is some evidence that mindfulness can help reduce mild paranoia. Our pages on mindfulness have more information.
Manage your stress
Our pages on managing stress have information and tips to help you cope with stressful situations or events.
Try some relaxation techniques
Relaxation can help you look after your wellbeing when you are feeling stressed, anxious or busy. See our pages on relaxation for tips and exercises to help you relax.
Try to get enough sleep
Sleep can give you the energy to cope with difficult feelings and experiences. See our pages on sleep problems for more information, including tips to improve your sleep.
Think about your diet
Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable can make a difference to your mood and energy levels. See our pages on food and mood for more information.
If you have a difficult relationship with food and eating, our pages on eating problems have information and tips which may help.
Try to keep active
Exercise can be really helpful for your mental wellbeing. Even doing something small can make a big difference. Our pages on physical activity and your mental health have ideas for most ages and abilities, including things you can do at home.
Spend time in nature
Spending time in nature can help improve your mood and feel more in touch with your surroundings. This could be going to a local park or forest, doing gardening or bringing nature into your home. Our information on nature and mental health has more about the benefits, and lots of ideas you could try.
Try doing something creative
Doing something creative, like doodling, playing a musical instrument or baking, can help distract you from difficult thoughts or feelings, or help you to process them. It can also be rewarding. Try not to worry about the finished product. Just focus on enjoying yourself.
This information was published in July 2020. We will revise it in 2023.
References and bibliography available on request.
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