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Is Paranoia a Symptom of Anxiety?

Is Paranoia a Symptom of Anxiety?

Is paranoia a symptom of anxiety? Anxiety and paranoia are often two sides of the same coin. Their relationship is complicated, but they can feed off each other, creating a vicious cycle. However, just because they are similar does not mean that they do not have their differences.

So how do they relate, and how do they differ? The answer is not quite that simple. First, you must understand the fundamentals of each as separate problems. They each have their symptoms and causes that may or may not intersect with each other.

While they can exist separately, it can be difficult to tell the difference at times. That is understandable, for they are so similar that there may not seem to be a point to keeping them separate. However, it is an important distinction that very much so has a reason.

What is Paranoia?

What is Paranoia?

Have you ever had the irrational feeling that someone was out to get you? Alternatively, maybe you have had mistrustful thoughts about the people you know that you cannot explain. If so, you may have experienced paranoia.

Paranoia is an intense, irrational feeling of fear. These feelings are frequently related to threats, conspiracy, and even persecution. Since it can be a symptom of other mental disorders, finding the cause can be trial and error.

There are a few ways to tell if you have paranoia. Symptoms can vary in intensity, but there is almost always the inability to accept that the feelings are not real, even with hard evidence. It is possible to have a delusional disorder, which presents itself without symptoms of another disease.

Symptoms of Paranoia:

  • Hypervigilance
  • Argumentative
  • Mistrust
  • False beliefs about people, the world or themselves
  • Preoccupation
  • Difficulty with forgiveness
  • Defensive about criticism that does not exist
  • Fear of someone taking advantage
  • Thinking everyone is out to get you

The breakdown of different mental and emotional functions is known to be the cause of paranoia. It is common for those with fear to isolate and have problems getting help. This fear is due to the innate nature of paranoia, only affecting your thoughts and feelings.

What is Anxiety?

What is Anxiety?

On the other hand, anxiety is a more generalized term that encompasses several disorders causing nervousness, worry, apprehension, and fear. It can also be a temporary state that shows itself during extreme stress.

Either way, anxiety can be incredibly disruptive and lead to problems further down the line. There are mental and physical symptoms of anxiety and everyone will experience them a little differently.

Symptoms of Anxiety:

  • A feeling of panic, danger, or dread
  • Trouble thinking clearly or focusing
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Insomnia
  • Heavy or increased sweating
  • Tension, nervousness, or restlessness
  • Performing specific actions repeatedly
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Muscle twitching or trembling
  • Avoidance
  • Digestive issues
  • Hyperventilation

As you can see, there are many ways that anxiety can present itself. Leaving anxiety untreated can lead to heart problems, digestive issues, and more. An anxiety disorder is not always the reason for experiencing these feelings, however.

Causes of Anxiety:

  • Underlying conditions such as thyroid problems
  • Substance abuse
  • Medication side effects
  • Not enough oxygen getting to the brain because of health issues
  • Stress in relationships, school, or work
  • Financial hardship

It is essential to address any underlying issues that may be causing anxiety. Whether it be lifestyle changes or medication for a disorder, it is vital to take care of it. Take any concerns to your doctor, and they will be able to help you.

How Do They Relate?

Both conditions are relatively similar but also have their differences. Anxiety is more common; however, affecting at least 40 million Americans each year. They do have overlapping symptoms and signs, though.

Paranoia and anxiety can both leave you with a feeling of restlessness, hopelessness, and fear of reaching out for help. With physical and mental symptoms that can show themselves in diverse ways, it is vital to seek your doctor's advice. You want to avoid the problems they can cause in the long run.

All in all, while they are related, anxiety and paranoia have their differences. Paranoia can be a symptom of anxiety in lesser amounts but is usually a problem within itself. Either way, it is essential to take both issues seriously.

Coping with Paranoia and Anxiety

Coping with Paranoia and Anxiety

Having anxiety or paranoia can be a boon in your daily life. If you find that certain feelings are taking over, you will want to speak to your doctor. They will know what questions to ask and where to go from there.

Your doctor may recommend you see a therapist, and there is nothing wrong with that. That is what they are there for, after all. Honesty is the best policy in this situation because leaving anything out can cause a critical error in your treatment.

Make sure you have a reliable support system and people you can reach out to for help, other than your doctor. Take care of yourself and treat yourself with kindness and patience. Most of all, trying to live as healthy as possible for physical health can affect everything else.


So, is paranoia a symptom of anxiety? Anxiety and paranoia are strikingly similar, but they have important distinctions between them. One may be a symptom of the other, but they usually are separate issues that you and your doctor need to address differently.

Eventually, the causes and symptoms of paranoia and anxiety may find each other. They can feed off each other, causing even more suffering. It is possible to have a delusional disorder with no signs of anxiety and vice versa.

Keeping a distinction between the two, even with their similarities, is critical. They are different, and it is necessary to treat them as such. What works for anxiety might not work for paranoia.

Regardless, both problems can be severe, and you should take them to your doctor if you have concerns. Do not let it fester and get worse. Since anxiety and paranoia can cause severe physical health problems if ignored, it is in your best interest to ensure you are getting all the help you need.


  1. https://www.mhanational.org/conditions/paranoia-and-delusional-disorders
  2. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/what-is-the-difference-between-paranoia-and-reasonable-suspicion-1004187
  3. https://thetouchpointsolution.com/blogs/touchpoints-blog/anxiety-vs-paranoia
  4. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/why-paranoid


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