Paranoid schizophrenia is a type of schizophrenia in which the patient experiences delusions that somebody may be plotting against them or their family or friends. This is the most common form of schizophrenia. These patients may also experience auditory hallucinations, meaning they hear things that are not real.
Patients may spend majority of their time thinking of ways they can protect themselves or their loved ones from these delusions or hallucinations.
Compared to patients with other types of schizophrenia, patients with paranoid schizophrenia often have fewer memory problems, dulled emotions, and concentration difficulties. This allows these patients to think more clearly and have a higher level of functioning.
Paranoid schizophrenia is a chronic condition. And because it’s there for life, it does increase the risk of complications later on.
Signs and symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia
Signs and symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia include:
- Auditory hallucinations – hearing things that are not there
- Delusions – false beliefs
- Anxiety – this may appear in periods of high levels of anxiety
- Anger – may start mild but range in severity. Anger can raise blood pressure, heart rate, and adrenaline.
- Detachment – either physically or emotionally detached from others
- Aggression and violence – aggression may contribute to violent outbursts
- Condescension – patient may believe they know stuff that others do not, so they come off as patronizing
- Suicidal thoughts and behavior – patient may say phrases such as “I wish I was never born,” or go out of their way to find weapons or pills to kill themselves with. Early warning signs of suicide include social withdrawal, mood swings, obsession with dying or violence, feeling trapped or desperate, illicit drug usage, changes in eating or sleeping patterns, getting one’s affairs in order, and saying goodbye to people in a specific way.
Causes and risk factors for paranoid schizophrenia
Like with other types of schizophrenia, the exact cause of paranoid schizophrenia is unclear. Some studies have shown that brain dysfunctions can contribute to the onset of schizophrenia, but why this brain dysfunction occurs is undetermined.
Environmental triggers have been speculated to contribute to the development of schizophrenia, too.
Furthermore, an imbalance of dopamine has also been found to contribute to schizophrenia. Even serotonin, another neurotransmitter, has been found to play a role in causing schizophrenia.
The researchers have identified some risk factors for the condition, including genetics, viral infections, fetal malnutrition, stress during early life, childhood abuse or trauma, parental age of conception, and drug abuse.
Complications of paranoid schizophrenia
If treated, a person with paranoid schizophrenia can live a very fulfilling life, but if left untreated, the condition raises the risk of complications. Complications resulting from paranoid schizophrenia include depression, suicidal thoughts, suicidal behavior, malnutrition, hygiene problems and lack of personal care, substance abuse, homelessness, delinquent behavior leading to imprisonment, inability to study or perform work, or illnesses related to tobacco use – many schizophrenics smoke heavily and regularly which increases the risk of smoking-related complications.