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How to Cope With Paranoia

13/11/2014 11:17 GMT | Updated 12/01/2015 10:59 GMT

Most people will experience a suspicious or irrational thought at some point in their life but some people will experience these thoughts regularly and these thoughts will be exaggerated with no evidence to support them. If you often feel threatened, scared or mistrusting, you could be suffering from paranoia. People might recommend you try therapy like Hypnosis or NLP and if your paranoid thoughts are causing other mental health issues like depression or anxiety then they may prescribe medication, but most of the work and effort needs to come from you. Sometimes we feel suspicious and actually we're right to be. We might be feeling watched and maybe we are being watched. It's good to be cautious, it's part of our human nature and it's what keeps us safe. In the past children would run around the steets whilst parents stayed inside at home, these days that can be a rare sight and it's for a good reason, the world is changing and bad things do happen, we've become more aware of that. However, you have to be able to make the judgement call on whether your worries are justified or if they're paranoid.

The first step is accepting that you have paranoid thoughts. If you feel like the whole world is against you, that people are out to get you and hurt you then you might not trust people enough to get a diagnosis, or you may not realize there is an issue even if other people around you do. Ask yourself. Do you often feel like a victim? Do you often feel scared, confused or like something bad is going to happen? Are you convinced that other people are trying to hurt you, that they're talking behind your back? Do you even think someone is trying to kill you? These are all common signs of paranoia. Some people may hear voices or see things that aren't there, everybody's situation is different but whatever symptoms you have, it can be very stressful when you feel alone and scared.

Once you're aware that you suffer from paranoid thoughts, you need to start analyzing the thoughts you are having. Straight away, consider is there any evidence to support what you're thinking? Are you blowing things up and magnifying the situation so it seems worse than it is? What really happened? Are you turning an event like tripping over into 'everybody is laughing at me' and then 'everybody hates me'. Think about the facts, the statistics. For example if you have a fear of being stabbed in the street, research the crime statistics and chances that that will actually happen, in your area, in the world. How many people does it happen to every year? If you had a fear of an object, like a phobia of mirrors, you might research mirrors and discover they've been around since 6000BC yet nobody else has been hurt, you might realise they're used all over the world and in science in telescopes and cameras. Put these facts and figures and logical ideas on a piece of paper that you can carry around with you and refer to when you feel paranoid, especially if it's a recurring thought. Who do you feel worred about? If it's a family member or friend or someone you've known for years, maybe consider why they could possibly want to hurt you physically or mentally? Remember to only focus on the evidence that has 100% definitely happened. For example, somebody has put something on the floor, but it doesn't mean 'somebody has put that on the floor to trip me up', or rather than 'she glared at me, she hates me, she's spreading rumours about me', think, 'she looked at me' because you can't read her thoughts, you aren't psychic.

Someone who doesn't suffer from paranoid thoughts may not understand you, but don't feel like you can't share your worries with friends and family. If they care for you, they will want to understand. Friends can be a useful way to find out if you're being rational or not, ask them their opinion on the situation. If you don't feel comfortable asking your friends in real life, there is a world of people on the internet who suffer the same feelings, the same thoughts and sometimes it's a good thing to know you aren't alone. You mustn't think that you are stupid or weird for having a paranoid thought, it isn't your fault, you just need to find ways to cope with it and handle it better so that you can live happier.

So remember, evaluate, evaluate and evaluate more. Keep a diary, write down your evidence against your paranoid thoughts and keep it to remind yourself. Be completely honest with yourself when you answer your questions and focus only on what has really happened, not your view of what happened. Consider facts and figures to ease your anxieties. Consider therapy, or if you suffer from other mental health issues inclulding delusions or hearing things that aren't there, you may consider medication. It's a long process and it might take a while, but with the range of support available, you will be fine but it is down to you to take those steps.