Slam Logo  

Your tips for coping

A great way of learning about how best to deal with a problem is to hear about other people's experiences. In this section of the website we post readers tips for how best to cope with suspicious or paranoid thoughts.

Send in your own coping tips email paranoidthoughts@psych.ox.ac.uk

Coping tips from website visitors

Chris, London
Firstly, isn't it encouraging to see how widespread the problem is and most of us are leading pretty good lives I imagine. We're stuck with it for the time being though, so I mitigate it as best I can with success.

It's definitely worse when i'm tired. Therefore plenty of rest, no alcohol or stimulants in the evening which may interrupt sleep. A good Radox bath beforehand if I fancy it.

Meditation. This taught me to relax which of course is handy anyway. But also I learnt to picture my mind as a big blue sky, and any thought as a drifting cloud (stay with me!). I learnt that I do not have to watch the cloud go across the sky and try to make a picture out of it; I can just let it drift on by.

Support. I am a christian and therefore get my strength and courage from the Bible. This is obviously not for everyone, but think about what does give you strength and courage?

Music. Oh the simple things in life. "Cafe del Mar" by Energy 52 will pick up my spirits time and time again. The thoughts that had been going round and round in circles before are nowhere to be seen.

Sam, UK
I am so bloody happy after reading this. It's not just me. I thought I was going blooming crazy. I've taken a piece of all bits of your advice and it's really worked for me.

Everyone was laughing at me, I thought, but in hindsight not at all. Self esteem has so much to do with it. Value yourself. Corny but so true. And when u have a wierd thought that someone is out to humilate/do you wrong etc, it's hardly ever the case, you just assume they will because you have lack of respect in yourself or think u deserve it. Or bad experiences. Think about all the healthy, fun relationships you have. Put negativity aside. Negativity breeds negativity. Sorry for a long ramble!! Just being positive

Jane, Canada
Don't act on your paranoia. I use to do that with my family thinking they are all criminals and out to get me..I use to treat them bad, not talk to them,ignore them when they talked to me. I was so rude to them now that I think back...I have used many of the tips above to cope and find that it takes a lot of work. always thinking and pushes those negative thoughts away..but I'm better...

Stephen, Scotland
I have suffered from paranoia for years. It got to the stage where i could not go out the house for weeks at a time.

I have since stopped drinking and am on anti depressants and have slowly been getting my health back.

one thing i'd like to say to people that suffer paranoia is: to never give up and if you run away from it like i did for years it will only get worse. Never give up on yourself.

Michael, USA
I've been struggling with paranoia for years, and high school doesn't make it any easier to cope with. Not having the best of friends for a support system also doesn't make it easy either. I've tried some of the typical "covering" the thought techniques. Like, when I hear people laughing and I instantly think it's about me. I try to convince myself that they're not talking about me, or even try to join in on their conversation.

I've also tried to rely on those who I think I can trust when situations seem too intense or rough for me. I'm naturally a withdrawn person (thanks in part to my paranoia and other issues) so I try to overcome this as well and fight the paranoia as it rises. It's a hard battle to win, but good luck to everyone else in the world struggling!

Catherine, USA
My focus here is more on "clinical paranoia" than 'everyday/common paranoia'.

When the paranoid feeling strikes, I try to get the facts by calling up, or meeting, people. This is difficult but helps.

Also I found the ten laws of overcoming paranoia in the below link to be the best I have come across.
http://www.bipolarworld.net/Bipolar%20Disorder/Articles/art35.htm

Those interested further can explore the following yahoo group.
http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/paranoidpersonalitydisorderforum

Robert, USA
"You'd worry less what others thought of you when you realize how seldom they do."

This clever quotation, which I think is from Oscar Wilde but maybe not, opened my eyes to the flip-side of paranoia: self-aggrandizement. It helped me to see that paranoid thoughts contain a seed of grandiosity, the belief that the people around me have nothing better to do with their free time than focus on me-me-me, and how dissatisfied they are with my behavior and appearance and commentary.

Whenever I get paranoid I contemplate this quotation, and find relief in the conclusion that I'm not quite that important.

Pete, UK
These are really helpful tips and I thank all of you.

I have fought against paranoia by simply telling myself that whatever is happening.. it's not the case, although that can be the hardest thing to do - making yourself believe the opposite of what your brain already believes.

The idea that people are going to hurt me are omnipresent, and it has been made a lot worse due to drugs; although I recognised that this started from an early age and was not completely caused by drug abuse.

It begun from insecurities in early age, such as fears of people, and eventually was triggered to a full extent by events in my life that turned it all around.

It's so easy for the brain to become confused with this all. But I find it's much easier for me to step back, put myself in the shoes of others and, most of all, in my own and look at everything without being clouded by paranoid thoughts.

I now try and make sure I think about things before acting, because too many times before I acted upon suspicious thoughts and it ended up backfiring on me. I put myself in the position that people aren't all out there to hurt me, or whatever. And even if they do, I can carry on and still be happy. It's a big task but it's the only way.

I find myself fighting back these thoughts instead of fighting back people now. And this way is much more rewarding, not only for me but for my friends too - who now I trust more and feel better with.

Rhiannon, USA
You have to remember to live your life the best you can. Being paranoid all the time is a disease, i know I deal with it everyday. I just try to remember the more important things in life and I have a friend who does not judge me and I talk to him about it which really helps when you can not to a friend and not some shrink you dont really know. I have been told I need to be put on antidepressants but I dont do pills and if I can avoid it I will as long as possible. Like I said you just have to think of the more important things in life. God, kids, husband, boyfriend, dog. Whatever makes you happy thats what you should think about during those times. I have also found it helps to take up a hobby. For example I paint and cross stitch. I find they calm my nerves. I have also learned having some sort of animal around helps to cause no matter how crazy you think you are or you think everybody else thinks you are they dont judge and they love you no matter who you are.

Ryan, USA
When u get to the point in your paranoia when u start to doubt yourself on things u know 4 sure and start to warp your beliefs on somthing u are sure of u have let it(paranoia) get to far. the only thing u can do is start to re-establish ur beliefs and knowledge that u use 2 live by and think by. i am in the process of doing this so i know what ur going through. it does not help that i have a photographic memory so i remember most everything and cant just forget about the paranoia. hope this helped.

Katherine, USA
Identifying the thought as a paranoid thought is the first step! Once this awareness is built, then you can move on to the second step that involves thought challenging. Think of the paranoid thought as being said by a third party whose job in life is to make your life miserable. Then, find the evidence to disprove those "thought statements". This is like being a lawyer and gathering the evidence! Remember, who has the power over your thoughts? You do!

James, London
I am lucky enough, like many here to recognise the fact that I am paranoid. I am unlucky enough however to be suffering it in such a way that it is having an adverse affect on day to day life. It tends to stem from lack of contact from friends, or friends having other things to do that don't include me. For example, a friend has time off, and decides quite rightfully too, that he wishes to spend the majority of that time doing things himself that he needs to do. I on the other hand feel that he is avoiding me. When I sit and think about it, I can realise that in fact that is not the case, but then in turn, I question that too. It becomes a cycle that goes round and round, leaving me stuck in a rut.

I was (in reality) betrayed in an incredible way in recent years that resulted in me loosing a lot, including my liberty, friends, job etc. I can see my paranoia has certainly stemmed form this point. I have to remember. When I call someone, and they dont answer, they are busy, or out. Not avoiding me. If I ask to meet a mate of mine, and he says no, I dont want to, or cant. It doe not mean they hate me, or are plotting against me.

The only thing I can try and do for now is tell myself I am a good person. I have many friends. People are not anti me.

The worst thing about paranoia, and hypersensitivity, as I also have symptoms of, is that the very best friends that are trying to help me, and do support me, I risk driving away due to the way I am. Paranoia then comes in again with vengeance, making me think that I am going to loose a friend. I then worry non stop that this may be the case, and the worry does not stop until I see them, or speak to them. Needless to say, that "Will call you on weekend" is no good. LOL. Paranoia leaves you needing to know NOW. There it is again. You don't need to know. You would like to know. Wait until the weekend!

I know over time it will get better. Positive thoughts. Friends that care and time. Talking does help. I pick a friend I can trust. Someone who knows I suffer, even knows I get paranoid about them. Tell them your worries. They will help.

James, Canada
When I started to feel stressed out and unusually paranoid, I recognized there was a problem and began to research the issue.

I found the following very helpful.

1. A more healthy diet including a daily multi vitamin with B complex for an overall improvement in feeling of well being. The multi vitamin included inositol and selenium for general mental health. Also, tryptophan (found in Turkey) was helpful in producing calmness and feelings of well being. (Of course avoid alcohol abuse and recreational drug use).
2. Cognitive therapy - Write down negative thoughts and challenge them. Develop a routine that challenges negative thoughts and begin reciting more positive terms and thoughts daily. Gain comfort in thinking about friends, family or other positive aspects of your life to block out negative thoughts.
3. Regular exercise to relieve stress and develop feelings of well being. Yoga and breathing exercises are helpful.

Overall, I think everyone has paranoid thoughts at times. But if you are having physical reactions like anxiety or a reduced overall feeling of well being, it is important to challenge these thoughts and make sure your body and mind has the diet and exercise it needs to maintain good overall health.

Michelle, Newcastle
Try to remember that many people love you and need you and ask yourself why they need you. There are other things out there worse than paranoia. Paranoia can be combated. If it isn't you often end up driving the ones you love away.

Helen, Manchester
Firstly and most importantly, quit the drug abuse if that's the case.

Secondly, it's good to read around the subject to understand it. for example, I recently read somewhere that paranoia is caused by the chemical imbalance caused by drug abuse.

In any case, what this helped me realise (though i kind of already knew it) that the paranoia was not real. when i was in the city centre (on a sat), i wasn't paranoid because i knew the anxiety was caused by the chemical imbalance, so i ignored it. it's also good to be accompanied by someone who you trust/feel comfortable around with and who knows your problem.

! also read that the paranoia is more induced by your insecurities, therefore, it's a good idea to get rid of those insecurities by facing them. ie, if you're overweight, then lose weight until you're comfortable... just don't overdo it.

organise your life more so that you can control your environment. if you know you're going out to a social event (and you will act paranoid) then do some exercises before to increase the serotonins in your brain. (how much you do is up to you but i find the more active, the better). and of course, increase the amount of hobbies you have. preferably sports! (it's healthy and increases your serotonins). start off with relaxed hobbies then move onto more active ones. or start off with hobbies with less people then move onto more socially active hobbies (ie, football). that way, you'll come to meet and trust the peers and become less paranoid.

in a social event (ie, bar), when you're feeling trapped, excuse yourself, go to the toilet. take a breather and think about what you can say to make conversation. now go out there and do it!! you'll find the people aren't actually out to get you once you find they're just as friendly.

maybe it's true they're talking about you behind your back. but think about this at the end of the day, "so like, what's the worst they can do to hurt me?" they could stab you but that's very unlikely and you know it.

so go out there and enjoy life!!!

Angela, Yorkshire
When ever you have the thoughts or feelings that something awful is about to occur

1. think to yourself do i want to sit here and think to myself i am going to die or am i going to live my life to the full and then you should feel a little reassured
2. get out in the world and do something you love to do it always gets things off your mind
3.talk to your family and tell them how you feel instead of spending a fortune on professional help

try these tips that help me maybe it will work for you :)

Susanna, Liverpool.
Tip:

I am so sad to read these sad stories and to recognise some of them.

Check out whether what you believe is the only possible version of events. Why else that unusual event might have happened? (Think of explanations that dont involve you)

You could well be right - so what have you got to lose? Look for evidence why your theory might be wrong - look for things that dont fit with what you think is happening - look for alternative explanations that don't involve you.

If you only look for evidence why your version of events is "right" you will probably find lots of it - we can always justify anything if we try - so look for the opposite, what would prove it wrong? Give your theory a really good kick. Make it work hard to justify its existence.

Be like a scientist. Scientists are always having to check out new theories. If they dont look for what doesnt "fit" their pet theory, someone else is only going to come along and do it for them, so they have to be professional sceptics. They have to "kick the tyres" of their new theories. Lots of new theories turn out to be wrong.

For ideas about how to "kick the tyres" of a theory, see the astrophysicist Carl Sagans "Baloney Detection Kit" at: http:www.carlsagan.com - see under Ideas

Other things to do, if you cant change the situation, ask yourself:

What is it about this situation that makes me angry?

Is this worth getting angry about?

Is my anger useful and does it help me achieve a goal or does it just get in my way?

List the advantages and disadvantages of getting angry about (whatever it is)

For example: advantages:

I feel justified
it's not fair
why is society picking on me
I have done nothing wrong

Disdavantages:

I dont know for sure if this is fact or fantasy
worrying about it is tiring me out
I might end up hating myself if I kept spending a lot of time thinking that others thought I was a horrible person - do I want to risk that? Is it worth it?

Positive consequences of eliminating my anger:

I'll be more cheerful>
I'll feel better
I won't spend time worrying
I'll be calm and rational
I won't be afraid of people
I'll respect myself more
(From the chapter on anger in David Burns' Feeling Good)

If you are tired or stressed in a situation:
You have the right to say: "I am really tired or stressed today and I really need go outside for a breath of fresh air right now" or "I really need to go home early today"

Mood Gym:http://moodgym.anu.edu.au Information, quizzes, games and skills training to help prevent depression

Paul, Portsmouth, UK
I have struggled with paranoia for a while, mostly thinking that people around me joke about me when I am in ear shot and generally don't like. Also that my close friends are always slagging me off just for their enjoyment.

At the moment I am in a good mood and after reading accounts from different websites. I am starting to realize that it may be my own self esteem that is lacking, I have just found this website that is very interesting and personally I think it will help me a great deal for the future. So my tip...http://www.prometheusinstitute.net/opinion/jh92006.htm

Michelle, Hull.
One thing is to remember your good sense of humour, it comes when you're healing your life!

Kitty, Australia
Tip: herbal remedies! go to your nearest pharmacy and ask for something that calms tension and stress but isnt habit forming. I find they alert that otherwise smothered part of my brain that says: "come on, that's stupid. Take it easy!" to all the stupid paranoid thoughts that I get. It helps to take them when you feel the onset of an "attack" of paranoia, rather than waiting for it to become "fully blown". Also a nice long foot spa. And watching a romantic comedy :)

Fiona, Canada
My tips to help improve your negative thoughts:

1. I try to think of a positive for every negative thought that pops unwillingly into my head.
2. To stay calm I try to be rational to myself. I think things like, "that's not true, think this instead." Deep down you know what's right, right? Believe in that part of you more!
3. Plans. Having a full and busy day can make you too tired to get crazy with your imagination, and you feel great because you accomplished some goals.
4. Distractions. If you get really stressed, leave the room. Always know that you can just leave and take a breather. Go to the washroom, and splash your face with some water and you're refreshed. Also, varying distractions, such as watching tv for a short while, then reading, surfing the net... etc... can really make me relaxed.
5. Even if you're not open with your family about your issues, always remember that these people are there. You have a support system that doesn't even know how much you appreciate their support. It's a comfort, love it.

Good luck to all of us in solving our challenges! :)

Margaret, Slovenia
If I get paranoid and feel unsafe wherever I am in the middle of the night, even in my own apartment, I remind myself that it is the "horror-movie" scenes that I associate with walking around at night and something bad happening to me.

If I feel that I am being observed watched by others, or even laughed at, I remind myself that there is a perfectly logical and more probable explanation for the laughter coming from a few feet away, for example a joke or a funny incident.

If I get self-conscious about a guy I met and what he thinks of me, I try to remind myself that my doubts originate from some bad experience in the past. I evaluate the situation and usually find that "there is nothing to be worried about".

Mel, Malaysia
A few things I do to keep myself sane...

1. Focus on happy things in life e.g. holidays, play with kids, discover technology

2. Pamper yourself. e.g. get your self an ipod.

3. Keep yourself busy.

4. Stay away from things that make you paranoid for at least two weeks and come back to deal with it later.

5. Have a good friend or supporter.

6. Give.

Alex, UK
I was speaking to an old work friend a few days ago about the paranoid thoughts i felt i was having. Being paranoid about being paranoidis the new challenge i have made for my self is the conclusion we came up with. He said to me to imagine my life in a ball and that i am looking at it from the wrong angle. By turning the ball and changing the focus to a different view point of positivity finding the best things about the the everyday problems i encounter like alot of people is that i should make my self feel happier and grateful for the things i have been successful with and achieved along the way.

As other people have said find a hobby, too much work and no play is no good at all. Enjoy whats on offer to us. A walk in the woods, a good film and food, swimming enjoying freedom and being alive is the most important to us. Trying to pass blame and finding negativity in anything you can like i have done only brings negativity hurt shame and very low esteem. Its been a week now and i still feel paranoid but im getting better. I saw one of my demons yesterday which normally i would run a mile go home quickly then i would be toiling with the fact that they are laughing at me this very instant snd i will be the topic of their conversation for the next few days. Its a load of rubbbish as they wont be doing that. Being able to turn to my relative 5 minutes after and saying whom i saw although my last encounter with them was bad just said to me .

Pause forget and move on dont keep a grudge bury it alllowing space for more we had a laugh then couple of minutes it actually worked. Dont let people grind you down we are not perfect we all make mistakes. They have problems of their own. We are not all that brilliant to be thought of by everybody we know. Our images dont live in the media lime light we need to get a grip.

Everything i have read on this page is extremely helpful ive read it all. A positive mind is a healthy one. We should never turn against our loved ones we should embrace and enjoy and not let whats been given to us for free be a bad thing as it really is not. There is a lesson in everything we do sometimes its not a good one but to learn by it and not dwell is the answer.

Reece, USA
i try to think about the highlight of my life. thinking about the good times with your good friends always helps. if you don't like it where you live then dont think about it. Itll just make everything worse.

1) think about the good things in life and the good future you'll have

2) think about the highlight of your life

3) dont think about things that'll bring you down

Jamie, UK
I first had paranoia when I was 17yrs old. It came about through a difficult childhood and about 18months of smoking weed every day morning until night. When I quit smoking weed at 17 I came down with terrible paranoid thoughts.

Like some of the people in these posts I could not look people in the eye, I would clam up and blush during conversation and if anyone laughed behind me in a shop I was convinced they were laughing at me and I would run away.

It sounds silly but a defining moment for me overcoming this was eating a meal in Kentucky Fried Chicken at the age of 19. I was frightened of going in these places up to that point because I thought people would laugh at me, but I plucked up the courage one day and did it. For years I didn't look back, deliberately doing things that frightened me or embarrassed me. Slowly I overcame it.

Unfortunately, things have been difficult the last 18month with a death in the family and redundancy, and the paranoia has returned.

I am unable to talk to my partner about it as she is having issues herself (I don't wan to burden her) and no one else knows I have this problem. I have thoughts flash into my mind of things I am embarrassed about and I immediately have a knee jerk reaction to call myself names (not out loud unless I am on my own!), I also tell myself to commit suicide (Don't wory - I won't! Its just an embarrassed reaction).

I know I must sound crazy, I just wanted to tell you this 1.to get it off my chest! and 2. To tell you that even if you have had this before and overcame it, it can creep up on you without you realising it. I realised this morning that I had let things get the better of me lately and it is time to do something positive and stop caring so much about what other people think and start caring more about myself.

My tips for dealing with paranoia are:
1 - Stay positive, if something embarrasses you, it is likely that other people won't remember it anyway

2 - Don't let paranoia stop you from doing things, like going out or to shops, the pub, etc

3 - Do something positive - I have given up smoking cigarettes

4 - Admit to yourself you have a problem and if you are reading this website, then you are already there!

Good luck all!

Mike, UK
I'm not sure if this contributes as a tip, but due to my condition, I've found it hard to trust people and express myself. It has even led to ruined relationships in the past.

This might sound strange, but in my research into my condition and talking to therapists, councillors and such, I've found that most people seem to have problems with speaking to people about their problems, and I class myself as one of those people.

There's always someone you can talk to. For me it was a team leader at work who suffers from the same symptoms as me. Even the people you look up to can be messed up in the head from time to time. I went out on a freak chance and opened up to someone who was a complete stranger, only to realise that I'm not the only person who feels the same way.

I've done pretty well for the last two years without medication, herbal treatments or therapy, but that's just me not liking hospitals/doctors/therapy, but there's no reason to turn away from these options,

Even if the world seems against you, there is always someone to help you.

I still have occasional episodes of paranoia, but I know that as bad as it can get, no matter how many times I freak out and start accusing my friends, no matter how many times I have to smack the inside of my head and tell myself; "shut up you idiot, that's not the situation here!", There is always someone with me. There will always be someone on your side who you can trust and confide your fears with. Even if it is through a computer.

Just looking through this site, as well as many others gives me hope, and it should give you hope as well.

You're not alone. Always remember that. People love you. Your friends love you, after all, you picked them!

Jim, London
My advice would be:

1) Be confident and proud of who you are. If you think people are talking about about you or laughing about you, then so what? The odds are they most likely aren't, but if they are then so what? Feel confident and secure. You are better than them.

2) Try to think of what it is you think they are talking/laughing at about you. When you get a list of things, then try to change those things. This will make you feel more self-confident and secure, as you have gotton rid of/changed the things you thought people were talking/laughing at. They now have nothing to laugh or talk about, about you.

3) This may sound wierd, but maybe try to get a new circle of friends in a different aspect of your life. That way, if you feel your other friends are talking/laughing at you, then who the hell cares because you have another set of friends to hang out with if the others don't like you! This will reduce you feelings of dependency and lack of confidence in you original group of friends.

4) And in the worst case scenario, assume they are talking or laughing about you. So what? Don't worry. They are nothing. The world is a big place and the universe is incomprehendible huge and infinite. Those people are so insignificant it is laughable. Seriously, think about it. In the grand sceme of things in the universe, those people are nothing and pointless and in 100 years time they will be dead and forgotton.

What matters is that you do the things that make you happy. Enjoy your life and try not to worry about what others think. I know from personal experience that it is hard to not care when you think people are talking about you, but know you are not alone. There are lots of people who worry about others talking about them. The best thing to do is to sit down and really try to mentally rationalise what you are thinking and why.

Kim, Canada
After reading all these tips it feels good to know you're not alone, which can actually help you cope with the paranoia.

In fact, I just thought I was an anxious person, or that I worried about it too much. Once I realized that I was actually paranoid..it made more sense. My biggest problem is not trusting people. For instance, the smallest things can trigger me to think someone is against me. If my boyfriend forgets to put a smiler face after texting me, or he is in a rush to do something and doesn't say I love you when he gets off the phone, I can sit there and convince myself he must not love me anymore, I'm not good enough, not pretty enough, not skinny enough or whatever the case may be.

Its a horrible cycle, you can push people away because of it, which only adds to you insecurities in the end. I've found a few ways that help me deal with it.

1. Writing it out. I try to list all the things that are upsetting me at that moment. I number them 1-whatever, and then i write a corresponding reason why it should not worry me. Getting it on paper help me get it out of my mind, and If i start to worry, I just check my notes.

2. Having a really good friend that understands. My best friend has severe anxiety of her own. Not so much paranoia, but she stresses out easily. Anytime I feel upset, I can call her, she will sit and talk me through it. Most people will not understand and tell you, you are acting crazy. You need someone who will tell you the obvious, who will reinforce the positive thoughts and help you over come it. Someone who won't judge you.

3. SLEEP!!! I can't stress this enough. I find I get the most paranoid when i'm running low on sleep. If i start taking to many late nights/early mornings I find myself panicing at my desk. I've had to leave work before because I was on the verge of a panic attack due to extreme paranoia from lack of sleep.

4. Talk to yourself. I had a therapist tell me to "talk to my anxiety" once. I thought he was crazy, but it helps. Talk to yourself, say things like "Katherine, you are over thinking things right now. Calm down and be rational" the more you do it, the less you will have to

well those are my tips, I would love to hear more feedback, reading off this site alone has helped a lot. Good luck and think positive!

Carl, USA

Ok I use to do a lot of drugs you name it i have done it. But now i am clean and i am so paranoid. I have a girlfriend that i love so much and I know she loves me. But i can never get the thought out of my head that she wants to kill/cheat/hurt me. I tell her all my thoughts she has come to understand my problem. Me and her can be hanging out having the best time and then a thought will just run threw my head. She can say the smallest thing and i flip it around like she trying to hint that she wants to hurt me. Its so hard to go day by day thinking that she wants to hurt me. I have also thought that very close friends want to kill me. But now i am seeing a counsellor. But still it is so hard to turn those thoughts off some times impossible. But the best way to do it is talk to someone. Someone that you trust. My girlfriend has come to learn how to help me. It has made things a lot easier. But yeah thats my story and to this day it carries on.

Lou, USA
I'm learning to be comfortable with thoughts that have a paranoid tinge. Sometimes they are in response to immediate experiences, that have triggered a preconceived thought, relating to 'past' (negative) experiences. When I recognise this its easier to 'move-on' and appreciate life. Knowing what triggers paranoid thoughts is useful e.g. When I 'have' to adapt to a new environment and group of people (work/education), I know its likely that I'll experience paranoia. I've learnt that my paranoia gradually subsides, as I get to know people (build trust). When I was younger, I wasn't comfortable with my preconceived ideas that were negative. I became consumed and overwhelmed by them. Therefore, I can relate to majority of the personal accounts of paranoia discribed on this website. I love being curious about my paranoia... being comfortable challenging my own perceptions... and not indulging in the indulgent nature of my mind.

Emily, UK
hi, its so reassuring to hear other peoples tips on paranoia im very lucky cos i have a close family and a great partner who i can confide in its always good if you have someone you can talk to that knows you so well they can tell you what you are thinking is ludicrous and give you reasons why, although to us it feels so real. When a paranoid thought comes in my head i just concentrate real hard on other things going on around me, i push it to one side and think NO go away il deal with you later and when later comes i do the same again, You need to keep yourself occupied, busy just keep pushing it away. It can only get you if you think about it if you dont then the thought can not stress you out or play on your mind. Believe me when i say if you use this technique the problem that you are facing at that time will disappear and you will look back when it has gone and your mind is clearer and think i cant believe i was thinking that and you will laugh. the more you dwell on something the worse it gets, the more real it feels, the harder it is to use the technique, please dont give up cos the technique is hard to do cos your so used to thinking about it that its hard to ignore but you must jst keep pushing it aside. Our minds are very powerful things and just as much as we can get paranoid we can get ourself better where there is away into something their is always a way out. so be strong people.

Richard, UK
Never run away from your fear, always stay in your feared situation until you feel calmer. If you run away from it, your only just making it alot worse.

Ali, USA
one thing that worked out with me just well:

Don't care what people say about you what people are planning against you.
Just live your life focus on your dreams
Dreams that you must care about more than caring about people's thoughts about you

Carrie, UK
Keep a diary and look back at it, you will see the wonky thoughts and what I call "pangs" for yourself. When you notice, think "Interesting" and nothing more, keep off negative criticisms. Look at yourself inquisitively not judgementally. Notice how the threads of thought start; you see a car like you partner's, pang, is it them?, pang, why aren't they at work?, pang, they must be having an affair, pang, must check their phone, pang. But it wasn't their car and even if it was, how on earth did I get to the affair bit? Count the number of pangs and you will realise why you feel so tired. Keep a tally and when you get to 100 pangs buy yourself a present. The more you see the more treats you should have.

Anna, UK
Get your thyroid levels checked. I suffer from a hypoactive thyroid and the symptoms include paranoia, anxiety and depression. They are often intermittent and inconsistent. Get your levels checked by a doctor, if they utter the words 'it's a bit high/low but nothing to worry about' demand to see a specialist or change doctors. Even marginal deviations from the 'normal' hormone levels can trigger emotional symptoms in some individuals. many doctors do not pick up on this, but some do.

In terms of dealing with paranoid thoughts I found distraction quite helpful. The first step is recognising you are in a paranoid state, then choose a distraction, such as listening to music or completing a task at work. I find avoiding conversation, or keeping it to a minimum is helpful when paranoid, especially when at work.

Mike, Australia
its so good to read other peoples coping mechanisms. When you get anxiety / paranoia it's very isolating. I still think people laugh about me. I get cross with myself when i think about all that wasted time worrying. But i also feel happy with myself that i am recognising the problem. And actively dealing with it. Its a form of depression for sure. Alcohol is one of the worst things for me. I had a drink problem for so many years. But I have learnt to get around the 'triggers' that set me drinking. And to think about my family at home who love me...think i am great! I honestly think i am so lucky. Everyday is a struggle to think differently, positively. But it helps not to think that I 'have to' 'need to' must' do things. I just try to go with the flow and that helps. cheers, and good luck with your life too ;)

Kieran, UK
I have to say, I thought I was the only one suffering at many times - but I find that the times it is most likely to strike are when you're not occupied and when you're tired. I find that the following things help me:

1. if you can't sleep, and those thoughts are biting, leave your room and do something completely different yet engrossing. Because trying and failing to sleep is one of the worst things I have found. I tend to write when I can't sleep.
2. meditate, as was mentioned above.
3. go for a little walk if you're left with nothing to do during the day. I walked 15 laps of the same block the other day just trying to engross myself, and I felt much better as a result.
4. also, and this is the horrible one - try not to think too much!! If all else fails, try thinking of something else that you wouldn't normally want to think of. That helps me a lot.

Otherwise, may I say, best of luck to all of you out there! You have my best wishes :)

Jude, UK
Thanks for all the input guys, it's been really enlightening to read.

This is something I've only developed recently. Basically, I had a bad experience two years ago which involved me losing my very best friends. The months that followed involved me being bullied not only by them but by those they had "turned against me".

As I gradually ignored them (with much misery might I add), things improved slowly but surely. Looking back, not everybody was against me; in fact, very few people were. It's actually the best thing that has happened to me as I've discovered better friends and better people because of what happened.

Recently, I've had paranoid thoughts again though and they've been frequent. I suspected that a rumour had been started about me by them.

So here's a tip from me:

:- It's nearly never as bad as you think. One guy who I thought was "in on it" was perfectly fine talking to me a few days ago. Paranoia was merely creating a smokescreen in my head - it's not the truth. :- If it is social paranoia, remember that these people have their own lives, their own worries. They don't have time to be thinking about you every minute of every day.

:- Smile. Notice the difference. It gives people the impression that you are happy with life and happy as a person. Everybody has insecurities but giving the impression that you don't is appealing to people and it makes people enjoy being around you. After being a miserable twit for a few months, I slowly started to cheer myself up through telling myself the above, and that is why I've felt so much better over the past couple of years.

I plan on dealing with this latest 'paranoia' in the same way.

Nick, UK
Ok, so I've had what I would describe as self diagnosed paranoia/depression... I've never actually seen anybody about it. I smoked cannabis for around 6 years and had a bad spell with class A's a couple of years ago as well... I started to get mild panic attacks etc and this led to me having one BIG panic attack on my friends birthday. Everything was fine until we got back to my friends house. I thought people were staring and laughing at me because I was acting strange which caused the people in the room to be scared and not want me there. So I thought anyway. I lost a lot of friends through this episode as the trust was gone and I left the drugs alone for a while but foolishly started again through peer pressure I guess? Same things started happening, I thought and still do sometimes think my friends are plotting against me, judging me all the time, saying bad things behind my back and has now got the point where I want a new life. I think the only way to get past these things is to turn your life around, start again, and try to be the best person you can be? Choose the people that you let close wisely, and have faith/hope for the better days!

Taylor, USA
im glad to hear that other people also have paranoia every day i go crazy and end up being completely depressed i usually think that people are constantly watching me just having a big ole laugh about every move and mistake i make but really its all in my head mind can play terrible tricks on you so you have to learn to control instead if meditating isnt your thing or cant fall back on religion do things that make you completely happy i realized that if i was out with friend or doing something i liked i never got paranoid but if you allow yourself to start thinking your mind can wonder off and start thinking of the terrible things these negative thoughts...

Albert, UK
I find that the teachings of zen buddhism help me with the paranoia. Sounds aq bit far out, but the basic interpretations i have made are this, try to look at things objectively, without applying your own beliefs, see things for what they are. Secondly in the idea that the past and future are not real. The past is a semi-malleable fiction that explains how we got to the state we are in presently, it is ultimately unimportant, and the future is simply a time yet to come when completely unforseen events may occur, its important not to worry about it, live in the present. By forgetting about the past and the future and by looking at things without your own idiosyncrasies it is possible to reduce paranoia. Being care free is the solution. which is not the same as suppressing your issues and locking them away inside, its more shrugging them off as irrelevant. Thanks for all the other help on this page =)

Jay, USA
I havent really learned how to cope with the difficulty of being paranoid. The thing that I have learned, is that being able to speak on a forum such as this, and being able to receive different view points on how to deal with this situation is very helpful. From what I have read here "paranoia" is a disease caused by my wandering mind. Rest and Relaxation is also a good remedy to help cope.

Elliot, UK
After using LSD and cannabis at university many years ago I became extremely anxious and paranoid of the world and people. Still have bad days years later. It triggered a sort of depression and panic in me that is very hard to shake off. I would advise everyone to stay away from street drugs

Ruth, Canada
I would first of all just like to say how helpful it is to have this as a resource to go to.

I struggle with paranoia, anxiety, and some depression. Paranoia seems to get the better of me though, and with it comes my anxiety. (I always find that the symptoms spike after doing drugs such as MDMA.)

My paranoid thoughts gravitate towards feeling like someone is watching me, feeling as though someone is following me home, or in my house. They also follow the lines of thinking that people are judging me constantly or obsessing about miniscule flaws. Ideas that close family members are purposefully doing things to make me angry or ruin the stability in my life are contributors, as well as worries of natural disasters...Wow! Long list...

Things that have helped me:
1. Sleep. I find that whenever I'm low on sleep, even if I'm not stressed out, my mind starts racing.

2. Feeling stable. Talking to a therapist and surrounding myself in stable, comfortable environments.

3. Having habits. Having a schedule and a constant concrete idea of where I'm going and what I'm doing next keeps my mind from wandering into the unnecessary black whole that is paranoia.

4. Music. Good music calms and centers me.

5. Having an physical outlet. I dont know what it is - probably something deep within our roots - but having a physical activity as an outlet is a great way to get rid of all of the stress and intensity that life can carry become. Its like starting fresh.

I think the MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember is that the paranoia is not you. You do in fact have the upper hand here. It may not seem like it, but you are actually capable of tell it to bugger off. It takes work. But you can choose what you want to believe.

Easier said than done, but why not try. Trying will only make you stronger.

Ben, USA
Thanks guys. I really appreciate everyone sharing their experiences. It's really helped me shine a light on my own paranoia and helped me to realise how I'm probably viewing the world through a pretty rediculous lense. I have constantly worried about things in the past, even though I've never been right about any of it. For the longest time I have been paranoid about almost every one of my social interactions. If Ive ever rubbed someone the wrong way (and in a world with billions of people your definately going to), I've worried that for some reason that person will now devote all of their time to destroying my life. I forget completely that this person has a life of their own with their own complications. Nope, from that moment they have decided to make my unhappiness their personal responsibility. As if I could possibly be that important to someone. I'm a nice, law abiding guy with good friends and loving family and I've never desired harm to come to anyone. I'm obsessed with the idea that the one person I annoy on this planet will feel compelled to take me down. I feel self-concious every time a police car drives past even though I've never commited a crime. I worry that the bouncer of a local club is planning to kill me simply because I was denied entry one night, so naturally he's going to spend all his time hunting me down with a gang of doorman thugs like some kind of mafia hit lol.

It sounds so rediculous when its written down, but at the time it just seems to make such perfect sense. Thats exactly what paranoia does folks. It makes nonsense seem plausible.

Ian, UK
My tips:

Try something new.

Admit you're wrong and forgive yourself.

Be grateful of something every day that makes you smile.

Think 'here & now' 'day by day'.

Accept others behaviour.

Look for positives all around you.

No one is a failure who enjoys life - do what you enjoy.

Laugh! Laugh out loud!

Run towards what you desire - not what you are afraid of.

My wife suffers from paranoia. Your comments will help me & help me help her.

John, UK
For the past 18 months I have had panic about people talking about me, my partner wanting to kill me and fire and gas hating me. I see flies on the window and think they have been sent with bugs implanted in them. The worst thing was thinking I had killed someone in madness and that everyone knew apart from me.

COPING

I try to think that if people are going to harm me they will do it whether I spend time thinking about it or not. If bad things happen you can only deal with events in the moment. I try to look back at my paranoid thoughts and remember that no-one has harmed me. Also, I bear in mind that paranoia can be an illness. If I have thoughts I give myself time to calm down and talk to my partner to get another perspective. Keeping calm is really important to nip paranoia in the bud because fear of thoughts can really fuel it. Don't keep them to yourself or they will grow. Talk to anyone, even a helpline or a priest. Oh, and please see a doctor too! Good luck

Kim, UK
One of the things I learned in four years of psychoanalysis is that paranoia [small 'p'] is endemic - as is narcisism. I haven't thought through whether there is always an element of one in the other. I still suffer from paranoid thoughts - projecting my own negative feelings and ideas onto other. I say that this is my 'inner critic' at work setting out to make life harder and miserable. My biggest defence against taking in paranoid thoughts is to fight them with logic. Can this or that person really have such feelings of negativity and dislike towards me? Some of them don't even know me that well! Does the person I attribute feelings about me to remind me of anyone? Siblings, parents, pupils - especially bullies - I went to school with? What reason would anyone have to expend so much time thinking ill of me, oor wishing me ill? Asking these questions brings myself back to myself if that makes sense. People who have paranoid thoughts are often hyper-crtical of their selves and others especially if they suffer depression. Their generally dark moods can project dislike, even hatred onto others and then have it rebound and come back as a feeling of distrust and criticism towards one. The paranoid person does all the work though and only s/he can really take control back and own their own life and look honestly at the source of their paranoia.

Lou, UK
thank you so much for this article it has made me feel better about what i am currently experiencing. the paranoia and psychosis have'nt gone, at the moment as i type i am feeling calmer and can rationalise the thought's that i am having but i know/ suspect they will be back soon. advice on how to cope???? sleep, take herbal remedies such as st john's wort (be carefull about what med's u are on it can interact) exercise, talk to people (this can be the hardest thing, not everyone will understand) and try to stay calm, breathe. one of the best pieces of advice i have ever got was from an ex and at the time it realy hurt but looking back he did me a favour. Just remember' not everything is about you'.

Astrid, The Netherlands
i can see so many possible things that could happen. like when my parents are late my head has within five minutes at least two scenario's of what could have happened. like they died in a car crash or are in the hospital and cops are on their way to me. then I got thinking on how to survive those things. who I have to call and ask to come to keep myself safe. first of all from myself (I'm quite depressed and have been suicitel) after that I can, luckily, relativate and make a calculated estimation of how likely it is that it really happens. I have this daily and it doesn't help that I have an online friend who works for armed forces and has to go on missions several times a year. i keep having dreams on how that person might die or get hurt or have to run because people think that person is a mole. also people following me. I don't have proof and I know it is very unlikely it would be happening but I dream about it regularly. these feelings I can handle quite well now but it is exhausting...

as more people say enough sleep, relaxing music and a good diet (not too much sugar and caffeine) can really help. also it gets way worse when you're depressed so doing stuff about that is also important.

and last of all, try what I do, use it for writing. it makes it fun and an advantage instead of really annoying.

Robert, USA
I just found out that I have paranoid thoughts. I think the best thing to do is to try to find out what triggers the thoughts. The more we can identify the triggers, the more we can control them.

Josephine, USA
I make a list of how many times I thought someone was gonna kill me after any kind of conflict or confrontation. The list is really long. So I can then start telling my self how it's probably not gonna happen this time either. the statistical chances of getting murdered are really low also something like "about a .00378 chance of being murdered in your lifetime," according to wikianswers. Things like this make me feel better.

John, Ireland
I smoked weed and had other substances, i would highly advise people to stay away from them if they can.

I was having a hard time lately and only this evening I done a test on a previous page i was on and it said i had high paranoia. I figured it was the drugs but also like one of the posts here i realised I had the symptoms when i was younger before drugs.

Anyway i was very depressed a few months ago, wishing i was dead only seeing evil and people being bad to each other in the world. Thinking every one was laughing at me or judging me on all my mistakes in life.

I tried meditation , herbal pills i was already active have been since i was young. These things worked a bit. I recommend Rhodiola root as a natural anti depressant 500 mgs if you can get it. I am doing my best to stay off the stuff the doc gives. I like to try alternative first. I did try anti depressants for 3 weeks a few years ago i felt better so stopped taking them i know this is a very short period. I didn't look back for a few years, every thing was great.

This time around though I have turned to God and Jesus. I was praying for help for some time and I cant explain it things just happened. To much co-incidents. Just read the bible it wont hurt you its an option. I was even paranoid about buying the bible that I taught people would think I was crazy or a religious freak. But now i realise its there for all of us if we choose to come back to god.I find great peace in it im not saying you have to do it. I still have bad days don't get me wrong. Some times you just have to fight it and get on with it. I hope this helps some one. Thanks all you guys i read nearly all your posts and it was good to see im not alone. Take care and I hope we all find a way to get rid of or deal with the symptoms. (one thing I have heard is every one has paranoia its just more pronounced in some people this is the same for any condition true or false i dunno you decide ) :D

Thomas, UK
I have had similar problems being paranoid i used to smoke alot of cannibiss for years then i quit for months then started up again i soon started to think that all my friends were makeing fun of me and people was staring at me thinking im strange even tho im a smart person i stoped going out i hated meeting people i closed myself off from the world then i realised that lifes too short to worry about these stupid things it was all in my head i stoped useing cannibiss and started lifting weights and training if people think bad about you its on them if they cant say whatever there thinking to your face then there a coward and weak i will not let fear rule me! so chin up peeps. spread love not hate and light up the world. Peace

Sinn, USA
Sometimes when I sleep I have these lucid nightmares about my friends and family trying to let me know I'm part of some government experiment to study my every move for some unknown purpose. And in my waking life there are times I experience a sort of coincidental paranoia. For example: I will be afraid that people are staring at me and carefully analyzing/judging my reactions or something. And then from nowhere on the radio or T.V "Somebody's Watching Me" comes on. The way I deal with it is that I simply tell/remind myself that people are just trying to get by in their own lives and most are self aware and have their own worries and troubles. And if I truly knew that I was singled out as an experiment in a special government psychological program then I would throw them off by doing something random or nutty. And for those who think someone is staring at you through a window simply give them the finger.

Mike, USA
The difference between me and everyone else here is that because of my paranoia issues, i have gotten myself into alot of trouble with others and becuase i know that im to blame,especialy for not seeking medical treatment along time ago, i now suffer from not forgiving my self and also running to stay alive. my advice to you all is to seek help right away!!!! dont end up like me and ruining your life because of it. it will catch up to you somday like it did to me. god bless you all and i hope this helped.

A, UK
I have anxiety, panic disorder and am bi-polar. These illness are tough to deal with but what really wears me down is the paranoia. I always think people are lying, people are molestors who want to hurt my kids. That people are talking about me or worse people are trying to get over on me. It is hard to maintain healthy relationships with these feelings and needing every bit of control over every relationship and interaction I am in or my family is in. I do manage though. Although it is an emotional roller coaster dreading if you are making the right decisions in trusting others. You jus have to take it a step at a time and pay attention to what is really going on around you.

John, Canada
I CAN RELATE TO 90% OF THESE "PARANOID" EXPERIENCES ON HERE.......AND I JUST RECENTLY ((ABOUT A WEEK)) FOUND OUT ABOUT THIS PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEM OF MINE WHICH IS CALLED SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER!!

Heres my story;
I never had such paranoid thoughts or "shyness" till about 6 yrs ago!! I was always the best kid in class for presentations i loved being the center of attention....i would even dress different so people would notice me...

long story short, about 6yrs ago i started hanging out with the wrong crowd and got on abusing drugs...Weed, E, coke, K, Meth etc...

all of a sudden i noticed ((thought)) wherever i went in public people were staring at me and "secretly judging" me!! I couldnt sit beside a driver in a car cuz i would get so tensed up, everytime they breaked i would pushed forward or backward ((harshly))...i couldnt get on the bus...as soon as i aboard my heart would start pumping big time and i would get really tense!! my eyes would be watery and so was my mouth...

after awhile i just stopped doing things i used to do before...going clubbing, going to the mall, bars, parks, hanging out with friends!!

I was uncomfortable wherever there was other people or a person present!!

so I started drinking heavily cuz i realized the only thing that would help was the alcohol...during this 6yrs i probably spent about 5 grand on booze!!

I would drink everytime before going out, while driving!! before class, during work!! u name it....

I dont really have a family and I couldnt tell any my friends ((that were still around)) about this cuz i didnt wanna spook my few friends that i had left so i kept drinking my life away...

TILL RECENTLY when online I found out about a condition called SAD ((SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER)) which symptoms exactly match mine!!my doc put me on some anti-anxiety pills for now till i could book an appt with a psychologist...

I havent seen the effects yet but they told thats normal cuz it usually takes 4-7 weeks to see it working...((im on day 5))

IM 100000% SURE THERES PPL OUT THERE THAT HAVE THIS CONDITION BUT HIDE IT CUZ THEY DONNO WUT IT IS!!!!

PLZ RAISE AWARNESS!!!

SOCIAL PHOBIA / SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER

A GREAT SUPPORT GROUP:

HTTP://WWW.SOCIALANXIETYSUPPORT.COM

A GREAT VIDEO ON SAD:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4truuD_xMP0

PLZ REPLY ON HERE IF THIS IS HELPFUL...IT WOULD MEAN ALOTTTTT TO ME IF I COULD HELP EVEN ONE SINGLE PERSON IN THE WORLD!!!

PEACE

Jessica, UK
I am in my mid 20's and have been taking recreational drugs since I was 18. Coke, ecstasy..ect and was fine until last year when a new drug M.cat came out that I had not tried before on to the scene. A group of us went to a gig and I thought everybody was plotting against me. Even though I still feel there was some truth in these events, it has stuck with me, I have lost trust in people, even my friends I have had to change my whole friends circle. Now over a year later even when I am drunk I feel like anyone who knows anyone that went to that gig want to get in on the action and have a laugh at me It is awful feeling. Sometimes I think am in the trumen show, and my challenge is to get through this horrible paranoia. I know that I need to get away and that is what i'm doing. It is just reassuring to look on this page and know that you'r not alone. Because when u read what other people have put it seems so bizarre, and makes u feel like this is a problem but it is curable. I believe that the brain can be a magnificent tool or you own worst enemy. It is all in the mind we just need to control it. Positive choices and thinking!! This is going to be my new way of thinking........ because this will not beat me, do not let it beat you ....

Sarah, US
I have discovered that just taking deep breaths... inhaling and exhaling to your full potential works wonders. It is amazing how much better you feel when you just breathe. So sit down, inhale comfortably all the way, then exhale releasing all that negative energy. Count the seconds if you must. Feeling "in the moment" helps a lot as it slows everything down to a comfortable pace. It is hard to cope with paranoia, but it isn't impossible.

Think on these ten questions and take all the time you need to answer them. You'll find that thoughts start to dwindle away from your mind as you assess the situation from a more logical stand-point. So... slow down, breathe and think logically. Trust me. I know how paranoia and trust issues weigh down the body, mind, spirit and soul.

I sit and ask myself a few questions:

Louise, UK
I just wanted to post some of the things I learn about dealing with paranoia. My experience is scary, like so many others. Believing people on the train can to access my thoughts via a microchip in the brain. Being frightened I will be abducted for information and tortured. Sometimes it makes me feel frustrated with them for the way they look at me, knowing what they did to me before. I take medication but it doesn't make it go away all the time. So talking to people can help sometimes, people you can trust like close family or friends, or if you're in mental health services try and trust what they say, or the possiblility of what they say, even if you can't quite believe it. Like someone mentioned before, making sure you have a good sleep routine can help a lot. Being sleep-deprived makes things so much worse. Make sure you eat and drink, even if it's packaged food if that feels safer. That is very important. Be consistent with taking prescribed medication at the correct dose at the correct time and talk to a doctor if you're struggling with side-effects. Be honest if you have been missing doses. It sounds paradoxical, but hiding away at home can be harmful if you do it for too long. It can feel safer in terms of being able to lock the door and for dangerous people to not come in, but isolation makes the anxieties so much worse for me. It helps me to keep busy with things, if it's seeing friends to try and have a laugh with or going to voluntary work, or even just cleaning or baking. Sometimes going out is so scary so I try and think to myself "has anything happened before?" I have had these experiences for a long time and have not yet been directly physically attacked. It helps me to wear a hat and to listen to certain types of music or think certain things to stop them getting to my thoughts and I feel safer when out. If you're with someone you really trust, checking things out with them can help too. Like asking them if they notice the person across the room staring at you or talking about you or if they suspect that what you're thinking might be a paranoid thought.


© 2006-2012 Daniel Freeman. All rights reserved. Follow us on Twitter at: @ProfDFreeman and @JasonFreeman100

Website created by DP Web Development