What Triggers Paranoid Personality Disorder?

October 16, 2020

Paranoid personality disorder or PPD is part of a group of conditions sometimes referred to as “cluster A” personality disorders. This group of personality disorders involves odd or eccentric ways of thinking. Teens with PPD also suffer from paranoia or an unwavering mistrust and suspicion of others, even when there is no reason to feel this way. For many, this disorder usually begins in the teen or early adult years and appears to be more common in males than in females.

What is Paranoid Personality Disorder?

Paranoid personality disorder is a form of eccentric personality disorder.  A teen with an eccentric personality disorder will often exhibit behavior considered odd or unusual to others. Also, individuals with a paranoid personality disorder do not typically confide in other people and often misread others, perceiving statements or behaviors that are innocuous or harmless for malevolent or hostile. An individual with a paranoid personality disorder may also be quick to become aggressive or hostile towards others, even when unprovoked.

The teen with a paranoid personality disorder is highly suspicious of others. They frequently believe that others are out too threatened, exploit, betray, or harm them. These threatening individuals do not need to be strangers. They can be friends, family members, significant others, teachers, or others they interact with frequently. Teens with paranoid personality disorder are not commonly grounded in reality, nor will they admit that they have negative feelings about other people. Their distrust for others is frequently so strong that they will not discuss how they feel and will harbor suspicions or grudges for lengthy periods.

Signs, Symptoms, and Triggers of Paranoid Personality Disorder?

People with a paranoid personality disorder often do not believe that their behavior is abnormal. To them, their thoughts and actions seem entirely rational, and their suspicions of others are a normal part of their daily routine. However, those around them may believe this distrust is unwarranted or even offensive. A teen with a paranoid personality disorder may behave in a hostile or stubborn manner. They may be sarcastic (more than would be expected of typical teenage angst), which often elicits a hostile response from others, only confirming their original suspicions about others’ intentions.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition) or DSM-5 list specific diagnostic criteria for paranoid personality disorder. Although not explicitly done in the DSM, these criteria )or signs and symptoms) of the condition, can be generally classified into two categories. The first category covers how teens with paranoid personality disorder view others. A teen with a paranoid personality disorder will doubt others’ commitment, loyalty, or trustworthiness regardless of their relationship with that person. They will believe that others are using or deceiving them to get things from them or hurt them somehow. They will be unforgiving and hold grudges, often about circumstances that are perceived or inaccurate. They will read hidden meanings into remarks or casual looks from others and have reoccurring suspicions, often without reason, about their significant others being unfaithful to them. The second category covers how teens with paranoid personality disorder act towards others. Paranoid personality disorder causes individuals to be reluctant to confide in others or reveal personal information because they fear it will be used against them somehow. They generally react with anger and are quick to retaliate to perceived attacks on their character from others. They are often cold and distant in their relationships and may become controlling or jealous do to concerns (whether warranted or unwarranted) about their loved one’s faithfulness. Despite the outward symptoms and actions that others see, a teen with a paranoid personality disorder cannot see their role in problems and conflicts and will often believe that they are always right in any situation. They may present as hostile, argumentative, and stubborn and have significant difficulty relaxing in any situation.

In some cases, some paranoid personality disorder symptoms can be similar to that of other disorders such as schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder. Your teen’s mental health provider needs to rule out alternative diagnostic options when determining if the best course of treatment may be at a residential treatment facility like Hillcrest in Los Angeles, CA.

What are the Causes of Paranoid Personality Disorder?

The exact cause of paranoid personality disorder is unknown. However, researchers believe it is likely a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Because

paranoid personality disorder is more common in teens who have close relatives with schizophrenia and other delusional disorders, there could be a genetic link between these mental health conditions. Also, early childhood experiences such as physical or emotional trauma are suspected of playing a role in the development of paranoid personality disorder in adolescents and teens.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, paranoid personality disorder may first be apparent in early childhood or adolescence. Children who prefer solitude or isolation, have poor peer relationships, social anxiety, academic underachievement, peculiar thoughts and language, and hypersensitivity may be prone to developing a paranoid personality disorder, or these symptoms may be indicative of the disorder having already developed.

Treating Paranoid Personality Disorder

Although prevention of paranoid personality disorder may not be possible, treatment at a residential treatment center like Hillcrest can sometimes allow a teen who is prone to this condition to learn more productive ways of dealing with situations and triggers. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to treat paranoid personality disorder. Those with paranoid personality disorder often do not seek treatment on their own because they do not see themselves as having a problem. Also, a teen with a paranoid personality disorder may harbor suspicions about the motives of the mental health professional, which can inhibit treatment progress and success. Due to deeply rooted trust issues, a teen with a paranoid personality disorder may actively choose not to follow their treatment plan during and after treatment.

There are indeed effective treatments for teens with a paranoid personality disorder. If left untreated, people with a paranoid personality disorder may suffer from chronic paranoia, further inhibiting their ability to function in their day-to-day environment. When treatment is sought, therapy is often the most successful route. Although medication is not a primary focus of treatment for paranoid personality disorder, some have been successfully used in conjunction with therapeutic options with a certain amount of success. Comprehensive treatment plans generally include both formal and informal approaches to therapy. Informal options may consist of self-help via family support, outpatient therapies, and academic or vocational assistance. Certain therapies can also occur in an outpatient setting; however, distrust of therapeutic providers often presents a problem when it comes to teens maintaining their therapy schedule and treatment plans in the outpatient environment.

At a residential treatment setting such as Hillcrest, individualized comprehensive therapy and frequent, one on one therapy sessions can help a teen with paranoid personality disorder build a trusting relationship with their mental health provider. In conjunction with various psychotherapy models, this can help your teen focus on increasing coping skills and improving social interaction, communication, and self-esteem. Inpatient treatment settings also allow your teen the opportunity to interact with others, which is another way to increase their social and communication skills.

For some, medications can also be helpful. This is especially true if the individual with a paranoid personality disorder has other related conditions such as depression or anxiety disorders. Likewise, medication may be recommended if your teen suffers from severe delusions that result in dysfunction, self-harm, or harm to others. It is important to note that medications are not the best choice for everyone. For some, they may have an adverse effect causing increased paranoia and suspicion, causing the individual to forgo treatment altogether. The decision around medication use should entail a conversation with your teen’s mental health provider and possibly their primary care provider to determine the best course of action for their unique needs.

If paranoid personality disorder symptoms have impeded your teen’s daily function, anti-anxiety medications such as diazepam may help alleviate some of their symptoms. Also, antipsychotic medications such as thioridazine or haloperidol may be used depending on the type of and severity of your teen’s symptoms. In some cases, antidepressants or benzodiazepines have also been shown to provide some symptom relief in specific cases. If used, medications should be prescribed for the shortest feasible to limit the potential for adverse side effects related to the medication.

The most favorable and most successful treatment for a paranoid personality disorder is psychotherapy. Teens who have paranoid personality disorder have often experienced difficulties that cause their symptoms to be ingrained and impede their interpersonal relationship skills. A healthy therapist-client relationship, such as those that can be developed in an inpatient treatment setting like Hillcrest, will offer significant treatment and recovery benefits. Those with a paranoid personality disorder do not typically seek help voluntarily, and they frequently discontinue therapy. Unfortunately, a paranoid personality disorder is a chronic condition that will require regular and ongoing treatment to manage. Those who continue treatment tend to have successful, healthy lives where they can settle down, hold the job, and have a family should they wish. Those with paranoid personality disorder who resist treatment are often shown to lead less functional lives as their symptoms eventually get in the way up their ability to function socially and within the working environment.

The teen years can be very challenging under the best of circumstances. Teens frequently struggle with relationships, social environments, and certain academic challenges as they grow into adulthood.

At Hillcrest, we understand the challenges that may be associated with helping your teen with paranoid personality disorder seek treatment-especially when they feel as though nothing is wrong. If you are looking for help and guidance around this challenging process, call us at Hillcrest today. Let us help your teen and your family take this first and very important step on the road to treatment and recovery.