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Author Topic: Paranoia vs. Anxiety  (Read 3112 times)

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Offline KorenTopic starter

Paranoia vs. Anxiety
« on: January 18, 2013, 06:21:35 AM »
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.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 07:04:41 AM by Koren »

Offline Cthonig

Re: Paranoia vs. Anxiety
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2013, 09:05:29 PM »
   Having anxiety and a mild paranoia1 I can attest that they are very definitely two different things. In a way anxiety, paranoia and OCD2 are in a triangle. There are rough similarities between them but significant differences too. My description to differentiate them would be that anxiety is intense negative feelings with closely linked negative physiological responses. While paranoia is intense negative thoughts with closely linked negative feelings.3
   Part of the problem with psychology and society is that damage to and illness of the mind is invisible. Unlike physical damage and illness, people can't see anything wrong so some assume nothing is wrong even when you tell them otherwise.

I must commend you on posting this. Revealing this must have been very difficult and you are to be congratulated on persevering. Given what I've said, I know I'm tempted to delete this rather than post it.

1something I didn't realize or suspect about myself until my therapist told me
2obsessive-compulsive disorder
3And completing the triangle, OCD is intense negative thoughts and feelings with behavioral responses providing relief from the negative thoughts and feelings.

Offline KorenTopic starter

Re: Paranoia vs. Anxiety
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2013, 09:28:04 PM »
Im glad that you did post it rather then delete it. I certainly do value your outlook on it as I do anyones. EVen within disorders and conditions like paranoia, anxiety and even depression and the like, no too people deal with it or face the exact same challenges and perspective on it and its always good to get another outlook on the situation.

Of course they all overlap. And Id actually forgotten to include OCD in my above post as I had originally intended to, as they do overlap with it quite a bit, the repeditive thoughts and worries becoming a big part of dealing with anxiety and paranoia.

I do quite appreciate your description of anxiety's thoughts being linked to negitive physical reactions while paranoias negitive thoughts are linked to negitive emotional reactions, which is quite true but not something I had put as neatly in my head as your description. Of course there is always overlap, but that is the general divide that happens between the two, one many people dont know.

Often when Ive had attacks of paranoia (As I am often describing it, an attack rather then episode because it seems to come out of no where) I have had people tell try to offer me paper bags, and give me general advice more to do with the physical side of anxiety attacks then my own condition. And I always find it hard to explain to people that my heavy breathing isnt to do with a tightness in my chest or anything else, but the emotional side of things and even just the way that paranoia makes me act in order to better control my surroundings. I of course appreciate their efforts to help, but with paranoia being somewhat in the background for treatment and public knowledge, its often hard to get the help I need (often space, quiet and no touching or interacting for a start) when it comes to my attacks, because they want to handle 'my anxiety'. It certainly can be a struggle to balence peoples own assumptions and the truth at times

I thank you once agian for sharing and contributing to this

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Re: Paranoia vs. Anxiety
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2013, 03:09:53 PM »
First, thank you for sharing all of this with us, and I give you genuine kudos for having the courage to do so.

I am not a doctor or a psych student. My therapy sessions never last more than a few months. I've had a few diagnoses thrown at me. All of my knowledge and information has come from my own reading/research or just from life experience.

You said something in your last post that really hit home, though.

... its often hard to get the help I need (often space, quiet and no touching or interacting for a start) when it comes to my attacks, because they want to handle 'my anxiety'.

I had my first anxiety-related panic attack about a year ago. I've suffered from paranoia-related panic attacks for years. They felt similar, but are so very different to my experience. Until now, I've never really tried to write about the differences I've felt. Please let me know if any of this makes sense to you, too.

My anxiety-attack left me shaking, with cold sweats and inconsolable crying. I felt a tightness in my chest and I had difficulty breathing. My mind was racing about all the things wrong with myself. I felt a great need for companionship, and tried to reach out to friends via phone and text.

During my paranoia-attacks, there's mild shaking, but it's usually from some kind of anger or frustration. Instead of crying, I'm very quiet and almost catatonic. I find that I'm overly-observant of my surroundings and I experience discomfort from that. Instead of negative thoughts about myself, my mind is racing with negative thoughts about my surroundings. The place I'm in, the people I'm with, the circumstances leading up to how I got there... what will happen next... If prodded too hard during one of these episodes, I can sometimes get explosive. Removing myself from the surrounding/situation/company I'm with to a safe, comfortable, private and quiet place is the only way to relieve it.

Take it one day at a time. If you have to, take it one minute at a time.

Take care.

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Re: Paranoia vs. Anxiety
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2013, 03:38:23 PM »
Watch out - the paranoids are out to get you!

Offline khantanha

Re: Paranoia vs. Anxiety
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2013, 11:29:45 PM »
I dont think its a great idea to discuss such things as such problems are now spreading much rapidly due to the web based resources and Google ing best way to get rid of anxiety is to stop thinking that you have got any such issue as it resides in our mind , and if we keep thinking that we have some special sort of condition going on then you cant get rid of it

Offline KorenTopic starter

Re: Paranoia vs. Anxiety
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2013, 08:39:54 AM »
First off I want to thank people for their replies in responce to this blog and its subject matter. I appologise for not being able to reply or even update this earlier, but as we all know real life often gets in the way and mine has kicked up an aweful fuss lately.
I did have a list of topics that I wished to cover on this blog and in relation to this subject, but for now I feel it more relevent to talk directly about what people have commented on so far and then take it from there.
I appologise in advance as well if my replies seem overly formalised today, Ive just come off doing six hours of uni documenation.

Thank YOU for your courage to respond to it and open up in turn. I know sometimes its seen as the hardest thing to take the first step in broaching a subject, but its also often just as hard to take the second and the third steps and be seen to support or even just acknowledge that that path has been taken.
I wouldnt worry much about not having formal training in this matter. While treating conditions of a medical nature, physical or mental, obviously is easier with some form of structured training and research to fall back on, these processes often get in the way of experiance and being open and honest about what has happened in life. All I wanted to make with this was a safe place for people to open up and approach this topic, not an area where everything had to be credibly backed up. Ive already broached the topic on just how had that can be in regards to finding true and proper research into paranoia as an independant condition and often its very stressful trying to find something reliable in amoung all of that.
Your description makes perfect sense to me and backs up a lot of what Ive heard before. As Cthoning said earlier, its like the way of describing anxiety as more of a physical responce while paranoia is far more emotional and mental in its reactions and attacks. I can certainly sympathise to that overly-observant state, Ive found myself falling into it on multiple occasions as well and makes it very hard to feel secure and trusting when people keep breaching almost a safe zone that I develop around myself as hard as that is. It really is just better to be put into an isolated controlled area, for me at least, and be allowed to work through it myself. Of course knowing that people care and love you helps,  it always helps, but having them present and in my face often makes me doubt and get paranoid about them and their intentions as well.
Thanks again for commenting here and sorry it took so long for me to get back to you

A comment I once had in regards to my paranoia was "Watch out, Koren's ninja's are real." Rather amusing at the time but also rather accurate in a way. Your comment simply reminded me of that.
Thanks for reading.

Thanks for your comment, khantanha, but I cannot honestly say that I agree with you. While the internet has indeed increased the amount of hypochrondria and hysteria to do with illness' of both the mental and physical sort, I honestly think it would be incredibly harmful not to discuss them anyway. Knowledge is always better and more empowering, off knowledge you can develop techniques for dealing with many things. Ignoring a problem and its existance simply wont make it go away, its just going to drive those that suffer with these conditions further into hiding and isolation long term, even depression, which is of course not healthy at all. Its not about focusing on having the condition, its about acknowledging its presence so that we can be empowered by it enough to develop stratigies to deal with it. Anxiety and Paranoia along with most mental illness', have a very deep biological connection, which is why we often rely on drugs to treat them and correct what has gone wrong. Its not about thinking you have an issue, its about knowing what that issue is often on a biological level and how it affects our lives.

On this topic of paranoia I was made aware of something today that is actually what prompted my revisiting of this blog. This trimester at University has been incredibly stressful on me. I have recieved a lot of problems and hassles in regards to the other students, recieved a lot of unnessisary blame and had to deal with things that really hasnt helped my mental state at all.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this I gave up.
I gave up caring, I gave up trying, I even gave up the ability to feel safe just so I could get in and out of my day with as little effort as possible. Obviously this caused massive developments in my insecurity and trust issues, and furthered my paranoia attacks. Lately I have been recieving one about twice a week, while my usual is a full paranoia attack perhaps once a month or two. I had not realised I was in such a bad way until a friend that I regularly talked too said this too me: "You havent worried about that in quite a while. You know its not true. Why are you thinking about this again?"
This friend does know that I suffer from paranoia, and this particular phrase somehow was just exactly right to snap me out of it. The first part of it, the you havent worried about that in quite a while, made me realise how long it had been since id not only gotten to such a state previously, but the fact that i was in this state, that it wasnt just another bad day with being overly cautious of everyone around me, that i was fully in the middle of a complete devolution of my progress in making my paranoia more controlable. The ending helped this, it made me question what I was actually doing. It was the middle part that struck me the most though.

As I mentioned in my second post here, the main difference I can see, and this may be inaccurate but of course everything in this blog is posted from my own perspective and view, and while I try and be a perspectivist it is often impossible to do so truely objectively, but anxiety creates mostly physical reactions and symptoms related to mental distress, while paranoia focuses on mostly emotional symptoms.
Its hard to talk someone out of a paranoia fit. Ive never had it successfully work for me. Obviously all people who suffer with anxiety are different, but I know some who can be calmly brought to control again by working through it with people, whether it be in making lists of reasons why things could and couldnt have happened or just having support. It is far harder for most people with paranoia because nothing can be trusted.
I feel like I may have mentioned this before but while in a paranoia episode I easily can fall into thought patterns that are quite strong and have quite a lasting effect on me such as my best friend being a mass murderer gaining my trust just to kill me. Thats obviously just one example, and one of the more severe ones, but those sorts of thoughts arent uncommon, and are incredibly hard to fight again. Someone in such a severe emotional and mental break are often so incredibly hard to just communicate clearly with, let alone rationalise with. Paranoia cannot generally be rationalised with in the ways that some people in a anxiety attack can be.
I often end up in my co-ordinators office at uni and one of the best things hes ever said to me was that you cannot talk or work with the emotional side of people. You cannot talk or rationalise to someones depression, or anxiety or paranoia, or any other condition like that as there are many many varities of them. All you can do is talk to them cognitively so that when they come out of it they have the words, tools and abilities to be able to handle that and develop from it.
My friends cant talk me out of hating and distrusting them when I am paranoid of their intentions, traits, goals even if they are human or not. All they can do is leave process in place in my cognitive mind for me to lean on when I get out of it to remember whats 'real'. Just because you know something is or isnt true, doesnt mean people can act on it that way, especially someone suffering from a paranoia attack who is fully convinced that they cannot believe anything

Hopefully more to come

Offline Cthonig

Re: Paranoia vs. Anxiety
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2013, 06:40:12 PM »
    While I am fortunate in that my paranoia is mild, it is still there injecting suspicions into my mind. Two things that help me: facts and a saying. The saying (sorry I don't remember the original author of it): never attribute to malevolence what can instead be attributed to stupidity.
    As for the facts, I do my best to analyze the suspicion and the situation/behavior that triggered it. Could it be coincidence? Could that have been a stupid comment instead of antagonistic? Who really left the other store first? (Along with considering how close together the stores are.)
    Basically, I try to dissect the heck out of the suspicion. There have been very few that don't fall apart. I don't know if this idea will help you at all. Hopefully it will or lead you to something that does help you more.