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Self-care and support for paranoia

Find tips for taking care of yourself if you experience paranoia. And learn about treatment and support options, including CBT and medication.

Self-care for paranoia

If you're experiencing paranoid thoughts, 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 these tips helpful at some times and not others. If you've tried something and it hasn't helped, try not to blame yourself.

Keep a diary

It might help to keep a diary of your thoughts and how you're feeling. You could record:

  • What your paranoid thoughts are
  • When you have them
  • How you feel about them
  • How often you think about them
  • How well you're sleeping

You could do this in a notebook or use an app or online tool. It might help to give the thoughts a number from 1 to 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're 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

Understanding what triggers your paranoid thoughts could help you find ways to prevent them. Or think of ways to cope if they do happen again.

Question and challenge paranoid thoughts

Challenging your thoughts could help you figure out whether they're paranoid or justified. These are some questions you could ask yourself:

  • Would other people think my suspicions are realistic?
  • What would I say to someone who came to me with a similar worry?
  • Have I talked to other people about my worries?
  • Is it possible I have exaggerated the threat?
  • Are my worries based on events that could be viewed in different ways?
  • Are my worries based on my feelings rather than 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 when others have reassured me that there's no reason to be?

Test your paranoid thoughts

You may find that you avoid certain places, people or situations because of your paranoia. To help with this, you could look for situations to test out these fears.

This might feel scary at first. But you can start small and build up gradually.

For example, if you have paranoid thoughts that your home is going to be burgled. At first, you could try stepping outside of your home for a couple of minutes. Once you're comfortable with this, you could try going to the end of your road and back again. And do this until you feel ready to leave your home for a longer period. You could make a note of how long you spend outside of your home each time, to track your progress.

This way of gradually testing your paranoid thoughts can help to explore whether your thoughts are justified.

Talk about your thoughts

You may find that talking about your thoughts with someone can reduce stress and help you to question and challenge paranoid thoughts. If you're not ready to talk yet, just spending time with other people may help you to feel less isolated. You could share this information with them, including our information for friends and family about paranoia, so they can support you.

This may be difficult as paranoid thoughts can often lead to distrust of other people. If you don't have someone you feel you can trust, 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.

Try peer support

Peer support brings together people who have had similar experiences. Some people find this helpful to support their mental health.

If you want to find peer support that works for you:

Try to get good quality sleep

Research shows that not getting enough sleep can make paranoid thoughts worse. But experiencing paranoia can make it difficult to sleep. This is especially if you hear voices or see things that you find frightening or disturbing.

If you're struggling with your sleep, our tips on how to improve your sleep may help.

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques

Mindfulness works by taking your focus to the present moment and away from other thoughts. Practising mindfulness or relaxation techniques may help reduce paranoid thoughts.

See our pages on mindfulness and relaxation to learn more, including exercises you could try. 

Treatment and support for paranoia

If your paranoid thoughts are causing you distress, you may want to seek support and treatment.

The first step to getting help is usually to visit your GP. Our information on seeking help for a mental health problem has tips for speaking to your doctor about your mental health.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of talking therapy. It's the most common form of talking therapy for paranoia.

During CBT, you'll examine how you think and the evidence for your beliefs. And look for different ways to interpret your thoughts and beliefs.

CBT can also help to reduce worry and anxiety. This could help to reduce feelings of paranoia.

Facing your paranoid thoughts in this way might be uncomfortable at first. But your therapist should offer you a lot of support and take things at a pace that you can manage.

Visit our pages on talking therapies to learn more, including other types of therapy that may help.

Finding a therapist you trust

Paranoid thoughts might make it difficult to trust your therapist or talk about how you feel. This can sometimes make therapy more difficult.

If you think therapy can help, try to find a therapist who you feel comfortable talking to. Our information on finding therapy may help.

I did a lot of CBT, examining negative thoughts and trying to compare them with evidence to the contrary. It helped to talk through this process with others who were more able to see alternative 'evidence' or ways of looking at things.

Arts and creative therapies

Arts and creative therapies use arts-based activities to help you express your feelings, in a therapeutic environment. It could help you explore your paranoid thoughts in a different way. And to look at alternative perspectives.

These types of therapy can also help if you find it difficult to talk about your experiences.

Medication for paranoia

There is no medication that treats paranoia on its own.

If you're diagnosed with schizophrenia or experience paranoid delusions, doctors may offer you an antipsychotic drug to help with your symptoms. Antipsychotics may reduce paranoid thoughts or make you feel less threatened by them.

Treatment for other mental health problems

Some of us may be diagnosed with a mental health problem or experience that includes having paranoid thoughts. In this case, your treatment and support may include help for these thoughts.

We have more information on treatment for:

This information was published in February 2024. We will revise it in 2027.

References and bibliography available on request.

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