Wife Having Paranoia

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I need some advice about my wife. She’s 33 years old and has never had any issues besides being ADD and having some anxiety. She was on Methadone for 6 years and Xanax for 2 years. She’s in a program now coming off both. Back in March she started thinking someone she meet online was hacking into our computers and email. I did everything I could to make sure we we’re secure but she kept thinking it was happening. Since then It’s gotten gradually worse. She now thinks there is a large team of people following her everywhere she goes and listening to her all the time. She thinks there are hidden cameras in our house, phones bugged, tracking devises on our cars, and people coming in our house when were not there or asleep. She thinks they have certain tv and radio commercials play at certain times to tell her things. She wl go into a grocery store and think the cashier is one of these people. No matter where we go she thinks she’s being followed. She says there was someone on the plane when she was flying to the place she is now and that they are watching her there. I am really hoping it’s the medicine but they have decreased her dose and she still believes all of this. She can’t even go to the bathroom because she believes she’s being watched. My question is would the Xanax cause this or does it seem to be a more serious condition? Also she gets extremely mad at me because I won’t believe her. What should I tell her. In her mind it’s real and she can’t believe I won’t believe her. Many of the things she says aren’t even possible. She doesn’t talk about it around other people so nobody else knows this is going on. I’d appreciate any help as I’m very worried about our family. Thanks!

A. Your wife seems to be paranoid and delusional. These are symptoms of psychosis. Your wife continues to believe in things that are not real despite evidence to the contrary. That is the definition of a delusion.

Psychosis is a break with reality. Psychosis is associated with several mental health disorders including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Sometimes people have episodes of psychosis that are not associated with the aforementioned disorders. Some people have one psychotic episode and never have another. If there are repeated psychotic episodes, then it might be indicative of a specific mental health disorder. Psychosis can be caused by mental illness, drug use, organic brain disorder, tumors, strokes, dementia, and alcohol and drug withdrawal.

What is causing her symptoms is not clear. Her current detoxification may be a contributor but a thorough evaluation is necessary to know for sure.

Report her symptoms immediately to her prescribing physician. It’s also important that she be evaluated by a medical professional. It might not be easy to convince her to have an evaluation but do your best.

Immediate intervention is necessary. Psychosis generally does not improve on its own. If necessary, take her to the hospital. Please take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Jul 2014

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2014). Wife Having Paranoia. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/07/27/wife-having-paranoia/