Definition 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 signs and symptoms of the condition? A person with PPD:
unreasonably believes that others are harming, deceiving, or taking advantage of him or her
is unreasonably suspicious, angry, and very sensitive if he or she feel slighted or treated unfairly
has unjustified doubts about the commitment, loyalty, and trustworthiness of others
is afraid to confide in others
holds grudges and is unforgiving of others
looks for hidden meaning into remarks or events
feels attacked, even when others don't see it
accepts criticism poorly
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 doctor can diagnosis the disorder based on the way the person behaves, and if four or more of the symptoms listed above are present. Sometimes the doctor also does psychological testing. It is important for to rule out any health problem that may have caused the paranoid behaviour.
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.
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. A person with PPD is usually wary of any medications.
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.
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 hospitalised.
How is the condition monitored? Personality disorders are chronic. Someone with PPD needs to be monitored on an ongoing basis. Some people are completely disabled by this condition and must be placed in a mental health facility or group home.
Author: Gail Hendrickson, RN, BS Reviewer: HealthAnswers Australia Medical Review Panel Editor: Dr David Taylor, Chief Medical Officer HealthAnswers Australia Last Updated: 1/10/2001 Contributors Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request
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