A diagnosis of paranoid personality disorder in your teen can be worrisome and even a bit overwhelming. Understanding just what this disorder is and how it can be best treated can help remove some of the mystery and fear surrounding the diagnosis.
If your teen has been diagnosed, then there are good odds that you’re familiar with some of the signs of this personality disorder. You may also be surprised at some of the other symptoms. Educating yourself and your teen is just the first step in getting them to manage it.
Understanding paranoid personality disorder
A teen with paranoid personality disorder can constantly believe that other people are conspiring against him. He will harbor feelings of mistrust and have irrational fears. This suspicion and mistrust can extend to immediate family members, peers, teachers, counselors, and strangers. It can progress to the degree where your teen feels as though not one single person can be trusted. He may feel like others are trying to control him or have a hidden agenda.
Teens may conclude that one particular person is suspicious above all others. This suspicious person may be someone close to them and accused of having a hidden agenda that focuses on harm. It could be a parent, teacher, or even a friend. This person may also become a target for hostility from your teen. Your teen may start to avoid being around this person and withdraw from any activities that have anything to do with this suspicious person.
What causes paranoid personality disorder?
It’s natural to want to figure out if something directly contributed to your teen’s paranoid personality disorder. The reality is that, just like with other mental health disorders, there is rarely one single factor responsible for paranoid personality disorder. The causes can be complex and multi-faceted. The contributing factors can vary for each teen.
There are two common risk factors:
1. Trauma in early childhood
2. Family history of psychosis
If your teen has been diagnosed, focus on helping him to get into the right treatment program.
How can you help your teen?
It can be complicated to navigate the best way to communicate with and help your teen. Your teen will heavily scrutinize everything you say and everything you do. Even being completely honest with him can still lead him to have paranoid thoughts and behavior, with the idea that you are trying to trick him into treatment.
How to help your teen with paranoid personality disorder:
- Reinforce to your teen that you are on his side.
- Speak to him about his behavior and help him to see how it may be considered paranoid and irrational.
- Tread carefully and take things slow. Don’t rush him into anything.
- Recognize that there may be setbacks. Keep working with your teen to help him recognize his behavior.
- Don’t lash out or show signs of anger. This can serve to boost his mistrust.
- Get him professional help to learn the right coping skills needed to live a healthy and normal life.
Getting your teen help from a mental wellness professional can be one of the best ways to help him get stable.
Types of treatment for paranoid personality disorder
Your teen may struggle with the idea of treatment. It may make you a target for his anger if he thinks that you’re trying to trick him into treatment or trick him into a residential treatment center.
For a teen struggling with paranoid personality disorder, the idea of treatment can be threatening as he doesn’t see himself as being paranoid. Being told that he needs help and being around therapists and doctors can spark suspicion. They and you will be considered untrustworthy.
This is a good start if you can get your teen to establish trust with just one therapist. This will allow him to understand his false-negative views and learn the truth about his suspicions and paranoid line of thinking. With a therapist, your teen will learn how to replace his negative viewpoints with those that are more rational.
A residential treatment center can offer your teen a safe and secure space that will allow him to focus on recovering. It can be challenging to get him into treatment but reassuring him that you are on his side and love him without condition.
In a treatment facility, your teen may be treated with certain medications that can offer him some relief from the anxiety and stress that he may be feeling. Medications can be seen as a threat and a way of controlling him, so this must also be handled with care.
If he struggles with depression, thoughts of suicide, or has paranoid delusions, medication can make a difference in helping to stabilize him. Again, it can take some work to get him to trust that the medication is intended to help him.
Your teen may also receive one or more types of psychotherapy in a youth facility, whether talk therapy or art therapy. Each kind of treatment is designed to address the needs of the individual. The goal with talk therapy will be to help your teen understand that he views reality in a not entirely accurate way. This realization can help him to recognize that he isn’t thinking rationally.
With time, your teen will be able to identify that his thoughts are not rational and his beliefs that someone is out to harm him are incorrect.
Paranoid personality disorder can be a complicated mental health issue to tackle. It can take a team of professionals to help your teen with a paranoid personality disorder. Therapists, doctors, medications, and care facilities can all play an essential role in helping your teen recover and thrive.
Establishing your teen’s trust is the most important thing you can do to help him get well on the road to recovery and learn the coping mechanisms he will need. Working with your teen will help him feel less lonely about the struggles he will face.