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Paranoid Personality Disorder Symptoms, Diagnosis

Read trusted information on paranoid personality disorder symptoms and the role they play in a paranoid personality disorder diagnosis.

Paranoid personality disorder symptoms occur due to an individual’s pervasive suspicious attitude and distrust of others. People with paranoid personality disorder (PPD) often feel as if they are in danger or that others are “out to get them”. (Read about famous people with paranoid personality disorder.) They cannot see that their distrust is well out of proportion relative to their environment and circumstances.

Paranoid Personality Disorder Symptoms

People with PPD often have the following paranoid personality disorder symptoms:

  • Concern that others have hidden motives
  • Suspicious that others will use and exploit them
  • Social detachment and isolation
  • Combativeness and hostility
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Difficulty recognizing their own issues
  • Difficulty working with others

To get a better understanding of the inappropriate suspiciousness exhibited by those with PPD, imagine this scenario: You find someone's wallet on the sidewalk. If you have a healthy personality, you will probably try to find the person it belongs to or turn it in to a nearby lost-and-found. You might even hang on to it and put an ad in a local newspaper about finding a lost wallet. In short, you'd do everything you could to find the owner. You know how stressful it would be if you lost your wallet and you'd want someone to do the same for you. But if you had PPD, you'd immediately become suspicious and begin assessing the surrounding area for danger. You probably would not turn it in or look for the owner because you would harbor deep suspicions that someone is trying to trick you in order to take advantage of you or harm you. And if the owner, or other person, tried to inquire about it, you may become hostile or argumentative.

Paranoid Personality Disorder Diagnosis

Only a licensed mental health professional can give a paranoid personality disorder diagnosis. Your physician will begin by asking you about your family history and symptoms. He or she should also give you a physical exam to rule out any underlying medical problems. Depending on the results, your medical doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist or other qualified mental health professional to further assess your condition.

The psychiatrist will conduct a full psychological evaluation. The doctor may ask about your childhood, school, career, and interpersonal relationships as well as ask several hypothetical questions. Your doctor does this to get an idea about how you respond to certain situations. For instance, she might ask you what you would do if a coworker gave you an unexpected birthday gift. She will then study your responses and assessment results to give you a diagnosis and come up with a treatment plan.

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next: Paranoid Personality Disorder Treatment
~ all articles on Paranoid Personality Disorder
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Last Updated: 20 July 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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