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Paranoid Schizophrenia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Risk Factors

Overview

Paranoid schizophrenia is considered the most common form of schizophrenia. A patient having paranoid schizophrenia often experiences delusions, and hallucinations. If a patient has schizophrenia, they find it difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality, thus affecting the way they perceive and interact with the world.  In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association recognized paranoia as one of the chief symptoms of schizophrenia, but not a separate diagnostic condition. Consequently, the name of this condition was changed to simply, ‘schizophrenia’. 

It is important to be able to recognize early symptoms of it so you can seek treatment and improve your quality of life.

This article delves deeper into the details of paranoid schizophrenia, its symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

What is paranoid schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a type of psychosis, under the influence of which the patient mind is unable to differentiate between reality and imagination. It affects the way they think and behave. The illness generally begins in late adolescence or young adulthood. People with paranoid delusions are often unjustifiably suspicious of others. This may make it hard for them to hold a job, maintain friendships, and even seek medical help. Although it’s a lifelong illness, people can take medicines and find help to manage the symptoms or ease them.

What are the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia?

 The symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia include the following:

● Delusions such as delusions of control, grandeur, jealousy, and persecution.

● Hallucinations- hearing, feeling, seeing, smelling, or tasting things that are not present

● Disorganized thinking and behavior

● Withdrawing from family, friends, and other activities

● Lack of motivation and self-care

● Suicidal thoughts and behaviour

When should you call the doctor?

When people or their loved ones experience any of the above mentioned symptoms, medical help must be sought immediately.

What are the causes and risk factors for paranoid schizophrenia?

The accurate cause of paranoid schizophrenia is unknown. Schizophrenia itself may run in families, so there is a possibility that the condition is genetic. But, not everyone with a family history of schizophrenia may develop this disorder.

The other risk factors for this condition include the following:

  • Abnormalities in the brain
  • Childhood abuse
  • Low oxygen levels at birth
  • Infection or virus exposure before birth or during infancy
  • Separation from or loss of a parent at a young age

What are the possible complications of paranoid schizophrenia?

People undergoing treatment for schizophrenia may improve to a point where mild symptoms exist or symptoms are almost unnoticeable. However, lifelong treatment is needed to prevent relapses as well as the other conditions that are associated with the disorder, including:

 If left untreated, schizophrenia can become disabling. 

What are the treatment options that are available for paranoid schizophrenia?

Various treatments are required for long-term success. This primarily includes the use of medications together with different types of therapy. In extreme cases, the patient may need to be hospitalised for their own safety and for the safety of those around them. The following are some of the treatment options:

1. Medications

Antipsychotic medications may help ease major symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. These medications control levels of dopamine in the brain. The doctors may also prescribe newer medications with minimum side effects.

It may take time to find the right medication and dosage that works best for the patient. For some, the medications may work immediately ensuring the symptoms are reduced and managed, while for others the full effects of the treatment may take anywhere between 3 to 12 weeks.

Certain medications may continue to improve the symptoms over several months. Before consuming antipsychotics, the patient must discuss the advantages and disadvantages of antipsychotics with their doctors as these medications may come with significant side effects, such as: 

● Dizziness

● Dry mouth

● Drowsiness and fatigue

● Low blood pressure

Nausea and vomiting

● Vision changes

● Weight gain

2. Therapy

The therapy options may include group or psychosocial therapies. Group therapy may be helpful since people are alongside others who are going through similar experiences. It also builds a sense of belonging, thus helping to combat the isolation that people with schizophrenia commonly face.

Psychosocial therapies may help the patient and their families cope more effectively with their daily lives. These methods combine talk therapy with social strategies to help them function in different settings. During the therapy sessions, people learn mindfulness and stress management techniques and warning signs that they are required to reach out to the doctor or their loved ones. 

3. Hospitalisation

When paranoid schizophrenia is detected early in people, they may respond successfully to medications and therapy. Hospitalisation is also sometimes needed for people who can no longer provide for themselves with the basic necessities like clothing, food, and housing.

Conclusion

Schizophrenia is a serious mental health condition that may involve delusions and paranoia. People with paranoid schizophrenia may have fears that other people are pursuing and intend to harm them. This can have a serious impact on their overall safety and well-being. The treatment often helps people manage their symptoms and live a more fulfilling life.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How is paranoid schizophrenia diagnosed?

When people seek help for symptoms that may indicate paranoid schizophrenia, the doctor can consider their personal and family medical history, physical health, and symptoms. They may also recommend diagnostic tests, such as blood tests to rule out the other probable causes of the symptoms.

How can people cope with paranoid schizophrenia?

People can cope with paranoid schizophrenia by: 

  • Managing their stress levels
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Avoiding unhealthy behavior such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and drug abuse

Diligently following the doctor’s advice and consuming the prescribed medications as instructed

How can family members help their loved ones suffering from paranoid schizophrenia?

Family members can help their loved ones suffering from paranoid schizophrenia by: 

  • Listening to them
  • Educating themselves about paranoid schizophrenia
  • Keeping a track of the patient’s appointments
  • Helping in the search for relevant support groups
  • Learning to spot the signs of a relapse and understanding what to do if it happens
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