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What Are The Symptoms Of Paranoid Personality Disorder?

What Are The Symptoms Of Paranoid Personality Disorder

Personality disorders as defined by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) are “long-term patterns of behavior and inner experiences that differs significantly from what is expected.” The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) list ten standalone personality disorders and based on similar characteristics, each personality disorder is grouped into one of three categories (cluster A, cluster B, and cluster C). Paranoid personality disorder (PPD) belongs to cluster A, which according to the Mayo Clinic are “characterized by odd, eccentric thinking or behavior.” More specifically, the Merck Manual explains that paranoid personality disorder is “characterized by a pervasive pattern of unwarranted distrust and suspicion of others that involves interpreting their motives as malicious.” The symptoms of paranoid personality disorder essentially prohibit an individual from confiding in others, which in turn prevents them from developing close, meaningful relationships.

Signs and Symptoms

There are several different signs and symptoms related to paranoid personality disorder. The Mayo Clinic includes the following examples as commonly reported signs and symptoms of PPD: 

  • Unjustified belief that others are trying to inflict harm or deception
  • Pervasive distrust and suspicion of others and their motives
  • Hesitancy to confide in others due to unreasonable fear that others will later weaponize the information 
  • Unjustified suspicion of the loyalty or trustworthiness of others
  • Tendency to hold grudges
  • Perception of innocent remarks as personal attacks
  • Angry and/ or hostile reaction to perceived slights or insults
  • Recurrent and unjustified suspicion that a sexual partner is unfaithful

The signs and symptoms of PPD usually appear in early adulthood, and research has indicated it is more prevalent in men than women. There is no single test that is used to diagnose paranoid personality disorder. The diagnosis process is informed by the symptoms of PPD and integrates the presence of symptoms in its diagnostic criteria

Cause and Prevalence

The cause of paranoid personality disorder remains unknown. However, research has deduced that it likely involves a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Individuals with a family history of paranoid personality disorder, schizophrenia and/ or delusional disorder are more likely to develop PPD than those without. Medical News Today refers to a study that found a consistent correlation between childhood trauma and the development of PPD. To conclusively understand the precise cause of paranoid personality disorder, additional research is required. The Cleveland Clinic refers to studies that estimate PPD affects between 2.3% and 4.4% of the general population.

For Information and Support

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.


We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health treatment and our residential program, anytime. Contact us today using the form to the right.

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