Paranoia vs. Anxiety
Distortion of Perceptions
1.A mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance, typically worked...
2.Suspicion and mistrust of people or their actions without evidence or justification.
1.A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
2.Desire to do something, typically accompanied by unease.
Believe it or not, there is actually massive debate still going on in the acedemic community for psychology about the effects of paranoia and anxiety, their similarities, differences, and especially the prevalence of these two disorders.
Some quick research I pulled out of a project I did long ago on anxiety and I found this.
Its estimated that 14% of Australians will lose work, income, or funtioning because of the impacts of anxiety
In America, where there are more studies and therefore more information, its estimated that 40 million people will be impared by psychology each year, more then the entire population of australia.
But of that, only ten percent will ever recieve treatment, and only 1 percent will recieve appropriate and helpful treatment to help them continue.
All of that was found two years ago in old files for a project study I did at school. A quick google brought up similar results on about twenty different legitmate pages once again, including from goverment surveys.
A google search for paranoia linked to this single article
with potential statistics from a singular study pointing that paranoia MAY be in far greater amounts then we knew or respect. But one thing struck me in the article is that many of the stuff they talked about was generalised, and yes, admittedly it is only a news articles so many details would have been left out, but you have all symptoms reported there and still not have clinical paranoia.
Keep in mind through this that I am not a psychologist at all, I have no training in psychology only a basic knowledge fueled by my own methodical research and reading through psychology university textbooks.
But I do have clinical paranoia.
The reason I continue to say clincial paranoia is this. If someone says to another person, in my experiance, "I have Anxiety", that person is often treated as though it is a real thing, and poor them, even if many people, like with depression, think that anxiety is just something you snap out of, and of course like anything there are the people out there who simply dont believe there is anything like anxiety and its all hypochrondria which is not the case.
But all the times I have said to people "I have paranoia", I get the comments of "Well everyone gets a little paranoiad", "No its just anxiety", "What do you mean by that?". People often dismiss paranoia out of hand. And I often dont blame them. When people jump at a shadow or think bad things these things are often followed up wth a "I was just being paranoid". People dont way I was just being anxious all that often. And because of that I have my personal belief that paranoia has become trivialised. People have forgotten that paranoia, and the street paranoia that is diagnosed and treated in those with paranoid personality disorder, are two vastly different things.
There is more that I would like to go into here, about the way that paranoia affects the mind and the world and your perceptions of it, how much it makes you incapable of trust or care, how negitive your world seems when anything, and anything, even a speck of dust could be fatal, or a spy robot, or an alien (real thoughts I have had during episodes, used just for example). And it is the same for anxiety, I believe. But in this first post I want to talk about the two together.
Because they are not the same thing. And paranoia does exists as more then just a subset of anxiety.
Yes there are very strong similarities between the two. A focus always on the worst, thinking of the worst possible situation, triggers that cause things to be avoided or worried about, the effect that it can have on your physical condition, and the way that it comes up often out of the blue, even how it is treated.
But with paranoia the thinking of the worst almost becomes delusional, incredibly unrealistic and fantastical thoughts that have no basis for reality, the triggers can (like anxiety) cause full on episodes or completely change a shift in the entire thought patterns of a person and the way they interact with the world to deal with paranoia over that one object, and treatment varies alot.
One thing that helped me while writing this blog post was this article
which goes into a bit of detail between the two conditions, and I found very informative, until I reached the last heading. One thing with paranoia is the constant convincing of yourself things that arent real. Sometimes I even get paranoid that maybe I dont have paranoia. The stress that causes me, that one thought, is in the extreme. That one heading brought all of those worries up once again.
Often time I talk to people with anxiety and realise that I can sympathise with them so much. After all as I have said, they are very similar, and I can understand the pain they go through and the stress that situations and problems cause them. I really feel sorry for them, but mostly because I can understand in a way. I cant understand everything, after all I have paranoia, which while similar, has its differences, and enough to make it that I wont always know how someone with anxiety feels. But I know enough.
Paranoia includes levels anxiety, but anxiety doesnt include the levels of paranoia indicated in those that have been clinically diagnosed with paranoid personality disorder. So its hard when people dismiss the idea of you having paranoia outright, and put it down to anxiety, because as much as i have respect for those that struggle with anxiety, my struggles are different, and its hard when you know that even if you go to a psychologist, that they are likely to be so skeptical about your symptoms that their questions may well work to convince you you dont have paranoia, and then all hell arises from that. Its hard when my parents told me for years that I only have anxiety, and every time I heard that it worsened my fears and my thoughts and my paranoias until I can no longer mention it to them at all.
And the fact that these same problems are arising in the acedemic community worry me as well. I would hate for paranoia to become trivialised by science, leaving those who suffer with it no where to go, and I worry sometimes that, understanding like that the in the article above as it mentions that clinically anxiety and paranoia are incredibly different conditions, will dissapear and they will be lumped under one banner, and that will not be good, for those with paranoia or anxiety.
I invite anyone else to come and share their stories about anxiety and paranoia here, and open up if they would like. I plan on doing another post about my specific experiances with paranoia, but I didnt feel this first one was the place.
And again, everything here is simply my opinions, perceptions and worries over the way that the two conditions are treated and how paranoia is often disregarded with its own legitimacy.