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Is Mild Paranoia Characteristic of Depression?

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I was wondering if mild paranoia is a common characteristic of depressive disorders? I was diagnosed with depression and I’m taking an SSRI for it, which has helped quite a bit, although I wouldn’t say that I’m “cured.” I also had some pretty severe hypochondria-related anxiety that started about nine months ago and lasted for about three months. The anxiety is no longer problematic–I still have hypochondriacal thoughts occasionally, but I can manage them and I know that they’re irrational and part of my depression.

I also have experienced a bit of paranoia (it’s been more noticeable since I first had the anxiety problems) with health-related things. I’m really careful about checking medications and making sure they’re the right ones. If I leave a glass of water unattended for a minute or two, I have to get a new one because of fear that someone could have put something in it. I worry that strange smells in the air are gas leaks. And sometimes if I’m on a bus or plane (I’m a little bit claustrophobic to begin with) I worry that either we’ll get into an accident or get trapped on the bus/plane or that someone has a bomb. The thing is, I know this is irrational and I know it while it’s happening–I don’t really believe it, it’s more of a “what if,” like, “I know it’s extremely unlikely that anyone drugged my drink, and I don’t know why anyone would, but it’s possible.” This is the same line of thinking I had with the hypochondria–like, “I know that this mild ache in my joints is probably nothing, but it’s possible I have rheumatoid arthritis.” I was wondering if this is characteristic of depressive disorders, or if I could have something else as well? Is it just a character flaw? I know this kind of thinking can occur with OCD, but I don’t have any rituals or compulsions. Any insight would be great.


Is Mild Paranoia Characteristic of Depression?

Answered by on -


I am very glad you are taking care of yourself with the medicine, and have taken the time to ask us this question. You identified yourself as a freshman in college, and this is a good place and time to connect with the university counselors. Since you already know your thoughts are irrational, the work is on finding a way to convince yourself of that truth. A counselor familiar with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) would be the right approach. They will help you challenge your irrational thinking with hypochondrias, paranoia, and various anxieties.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Is Mild Paranoia Characteristic of Depression?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Is Mild Paranoia Characteristic of Depression?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 21 Mar 2011)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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