Am I Paranoid?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have a suspicion that I may be suffering from some kind of paranoia. I have become almost constantly concerned about what other people think of me (even ones from my complete past) and if my actions have been, are, and will be the “correct” ones. There are times when I go through every moment, action, relationship, etc. that I can remember from my life, until I get scarily overwhelmed. I suppose I feel like I need to “fix” every single moment in my life, if I feel like they’re not the way they should have been. These worries only subside when I’m kept very busy. Almost immediately after I am granted free time, the thoughts begin again. I believe social networking sites are making these problems much worse. Can you tell me exactly what’s wrong?

A: I can’t tell you exactly what’s wrong without talking with you. But from what you wrote, I can make a guess. What you describe is consistent with social anxiety. Left untreated, it can become debilitating. People with social anxiety often isolate themselves more and more because they are so worried about other people’s judgment. It can be a painful and lonely way to live.

I hope you will consider seeing a therapist to help you. The good news is that this is a treatable condition. Often a combination of some medication and some talk therapy will help a person learn new skills for self-calming and for interacting with others in a more comfortable way. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been identified as one of the treatments of choice so I suggest you look for a therapist who is experienced with that approach.

You took an important first step in writing. Now please follow through and get the treatment you need. You’ve suffered quite long enough.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Dec 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Am I Paranoid?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/12/08/am-i-paranoid/