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Paranoid personality disorder

Definition

Paranoid personality disorder is a psychiatric condition in which a person is very distrustful and suspicious of others.

Alternative Names

Personality disorder - paranoid

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Personality disorders are long-term (chronic) patterns of behavior that cause lasting problems with work and relationships.

The cause of paranoid personality disorder is unknown. It appears to be more common in families with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and delusional disorder, which suggests genes may be involved.

Symptoms

People with paranoid personality disorder are highly suspicious of other people. They are usually unable to acknowledge their own negative feelings towards other people.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Concern that other people have hidden motives
  • Expectation that they will be exploited by others
  • Inability to work together with others
  • Poor self image
  • Social isolation
  • Detachment
  • Hostility

Signs and tests

Personality disorders are diagnosed based on psychological evaluation and the history and severity of the symptoms.

Treatment

Treatment is difficult because people with this condition are often extremely suspicious of doctors. If accepted, medications and talk therapy can both be effective.

Expectations (prognosis)

Therapy can limit the impact of the paranoia on the person's daily functioning.

Complications

  • Extreme social isolation
  • Potential for violence

Calling your health care provider

If suspicions are interfering with your relationships or work, contact a health care provider or mental health professional.

References

Moore DP, Jefferson JW. Paranoid personality disorder. In: Moore DP, Jefferson JW, eds. Handbook of Medical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2004: chap 134.

Satterfield JM, Feldman MD. Paranoid personality disorder. In: Ferri FF, ed. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2008: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008.


Review Date: 10/17/2008
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; Timothy A. Rogge, MD, private practice in Psychiatry, Kirkland, Washington. Also reviewed byDavid Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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