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Stages of paranoia

Updated July 18, 2017

Paranoia is a mental ailment portraying unreasonable distrust, delusions, hallucinations, irrational thinking patterns and the inability to cope with reality. This condition can be a characteristic of schizophrenia, paranoid personality disorder, inappropriate drug use and depressive disorders. Individuals who display mental illnesses with paranoia are typically highly suspicious of people or events and express feelings in an irrational manner.

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Genetic and psychological influences play a large role in the cause of disorders exhibiting paranoia. People with paranoid disorders commonly have a family history of mental illness. Emotional and physical trauma during childhood can also cause disorders displaying paranoia.


Severity of paranoia symptoms varies in each person, but the most common indicators include talking to themselves, suspicions of being constantly monitored, feeling as if someone is out to hurt them, lacking meaningful relationships, experiencing hallucinations and delusions, suicidal thoughts and actions, displaying irrational anger, committing violent actions, being emotionally sensitive, distrusting familiar and unfamiliar people and experiencing high levels of anxiety.


Paranoia does not occur in specific or defined stages. The most prominent symptoms of paranoia include delusions and hallucinations. An individual may experience hearing negative voices that are constantly talking to them and unrealistic delusions about how they view themselves and the world around them. Friends and family members typically notice these symptoms first, thus giving the impression of an individual who is going through stages of paranoia. Milder signs of paranoia are often discovered following the acknowledgement of more severe symptoms.


Mental disorders with paranoia require medical treatment and will not improve without intervention. Symptoms can improve or dissipate with proper medication or long-term counselling. People with paranoid symptoms may not willingly seek medical help on their own, as their delusions and hallucinations are very real to them. Friends or family members can encourage the individual to seek help or may call 911 if emergency assistance is needed quickly.

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About the Author

Suzy Giovannettone Cope

Suzanne Giovannettone Cope started writing in 2010 for eHow and LIVESTRONG, where her specialty topics include educational issues and redefining disability. She is a licensed educator whose formal training was completed at Northern State University. She holds a Bachelor of Science in elementary and special education with a concentration in Braille and teaching children with visual impairments.

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