What is Paranoid Schizophrenia?
Paranoid schizophrenia is the most common subtype of schizophrenia and is a chronic mental illness with symptoms including delusions and auditory hallucinations. These delusions often involve believing a person or people are “out to get” the individual or their families. They may also have delusions of grandeur. Paranoid schizophrenics spend a lot of time thinking of ways to protect themselves from their “persecutors.”
Signs and Symptoms of Paranoid Schizophrenia
There are many behavioral indicators or symptoms of Paranoid Schizophrenia. With paranoid schizophrenia, you’re less likely to be affected by mood problems or problems with thinking, concentration, and attention.
Signs and symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia include:
- Unexplained anger
- Emotional disconnectedness
- Severe anxiety and agitation
- Argumentative behavior
- Violent tendencies
- Delusions of grandeur or self-importance and believing he or she possesses special powers
- Frequent suicidal thoughts and behavior
What Causes Paranoid Schizophrenia?
No one is certain what causes the brain dysfunction behind all types of schizophrenia. However, it is most likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Some of the risk factors for paranoid schizophrenia are:
- Fetal malnutrition
- Drug abuse
- In vitro viral infection
- Childhood abuse/trauma
- Stress during early life
- Having a parent who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia
Diagnosing Paranoid Schizophrenia
It is first important to rule out other illnesses, as sometimes people suffer severe mental symptoms or even psychosis due to undetected underlying medical conditions. For this reason, a medical history should be taken and a physical examination and laboratory tests should be done to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms before concluding that a person has schizophrenia. In addition, since commonly abused drugs may cause symptoms resembling schizophrenia, blood or urine samples from the person can be tested at hospitals’ or physicians’ offices for the presence of these drugs.
At times, it is difficult to tell one mental disorder from another. For instance, some people with symptoms of schizophrenia exhibit prolonged extremes of elated or depressed mood, and it is important to determine whether such a patient actually has schizophrenia or instead has a manic-depressive (or bipolar) disorder or major depressive disorder. Persons whose symptoms cannot be clearly categorized are sometimes diagnosed as having a “schizoaffective disorder.”
Treatment for Paranoid Schizophrenia
Left untreated, paranoid schizophrenia can wreak havoc on lives, leading to suicidal and self-destructive behaviors, depression, substance abuse, and incarceration. However, treatment is effective but is a lifelong process as paranoid schizophrenia is a chronic condition. Treatment options can include a mixture of medication, psychotherapy, hospitalization, and electro-shock therapy.
Medications are generally atypical or typical antipsychotics, but doctors may prescribe mood stabilizers or antidepressants in conjunction with a treatment team. With severe symptoms, paranoid schizophrenia may require hospitalization until medications are administered and a treatment is figured out.
When a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia is made, it is always best to discuss with a doctor or psychiatrist what the appropriate next steps would be, so that the most effective treatment team can be found and a treatment plan can be worked out.