Psych Central

Possible Paranoid Schizophrenia?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I’m young and I need to know if it’s time to see professional help or if this is a normal thing. Any of your time to read over this would be so greatly appreciated.

Ever since I was about 9 I’ve been extremely paranoid of people trying to get me (kidnap/kill/spy/attack) to the point where I wouldn’t go outside alone and I wouldn’t sleep if everyone else in the house was asleep. I swear I’ve seen people so very clearly that weren’t actually there (according to my family). I hear sounds of footsteps and knocking and people sneaking around that other people don’t seem to listen to. I don’t hear voices in my head though. I just talk to myself all the time, but everybody does that.

It comes in phases. Right now I’m okay (I still don’t stay home alone and i am awake most of the night so as to protect myself, but it’s not like the bad times). Other times, no matter what I do, I am CONSTANTLY paranoid that someone is trying to get me. These bad phases come extremely suddenly, stay for anywhere from a few months to few years, and then go away. But so far, they’ve always come back.

I don’t want to keep typing for fear that you’ll get bored and stop reading. If you have any questions, please ask and I can elaborate. Please answer. Thank you.

A. You may be suffering from paranoia but this symptom alone would not be enough to indicate that you have schizophrenia. The extreme fear that you feel regarding people trying to kidnap/kill/spy/attack you may actually be a sign of a phobia rather than paranoia. This distinction is too difficult to make over the Internet. Only a mental health professional who met with you in person can determine which, if either, you may have.

Some people develop phobias because they were exposed to a traumatic event that triggered a strong fear reaction and others seem to develop them seemingly “out of nowhere.” What I mean is that in some cases when an individual tries to think back to an event that may explain why he or she developed a phobia, no origin for that fear can be pinpointed. Is there a reason why you may have developed this fear? Were you ever attacked or lived through a traumatic incident that could explain what you’ve been feeling? These are just a few of the questions I would ask you if I met with you in person.

This issue needs to be explored further. I would highly recommend that you see a mental health professional for this matter. You need help with both identifying precisely what you are experiencing (i.e. paranoia, phobia or something else) as well as assistance in eliminating this intense fear from your life. You may never learn the source of the fear but all that matters is that you find a therapist who knows how to help you decrease or eliminate it. I hope this helps.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Aug 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Possible Paranoid Schizophrenia?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/08/04/possible-paranoid-schizophrenia/

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