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Paranoid Personality Disorder

Paranoid Personality Disorder

Alternate Names

  • paranoia


A personality disorder is a mental disorder that causes a person to think and behave abnormally. This makes it hard for him or her to interact with other people and function normally in society. A person with paranoid personality disorder (PPD) mistrusts other people, even though he or she has no reason to do so.

What is going on in the body?

A person with PPD is suspicious and mistrustful of others. He or she is always "on guard", and may be unable to form close relationships.


What are the causes and risks of the condition?

The exact cause of the condition is unknown. Genetics may be involved. Early childhood experiences, including physical or emotion trauma, may cause PPD.


What can be done to prevent the condition?

There is no known way to prevent personality disorders. However, growing up in a nurturing environment is important toward developing a healthy personality.


How is the condition diagnosed?

A healthcare professional can diagnose the disorder based on the way the person behaves, and if four or more of the symptoms listed above are present. Sometimes the professional also does psychological testing. It is important to rule out any health problem (including other underlying psychiatric disorders) that may have caused the paranoid behavior.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

A person with a personality disorder tends to have the same problems with relationships and work throughout his or her lifetime.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

This condition is not contagious. People with PPD often take legal action against others, and are unable to see their own roles in a conflict.


What are the treatments for the condition?

Because a person with PPD has trouble trusting others, it is hard for a therapist to form a trusting relationship with him or her. Medications have been shown to be useful for reducing the anxiety and agitation often linked with PPD.
Nonaddictive anti-anxiety medications have been effective. Low-dose antipsychotic medications have been used for brief periods for individuals with more severe symptoms associated with loss of contact with reality. A person with PPD is usually wary of any medications.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Side effects depend on the medication used to treat the disorder, but may include allergic reactions and drowsiness.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the condition?

People with PPD often do not follow the prescribed treatment plan. This resistance to treatment can make the PPD worse. In this case, the person may need to be hospitalized.


How is the condition monitored?

Personality disorders are chronic. A person with PPD needs to be monitored on an ongoing basis.


The Merck Manual of Medical Information, Home Edition, 1997

Professional Guide to Disease, Sixth Edition, 1998

Hales, Robert, Textbook of Psychiatry, 2nd edition. 1994

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