Teen paranoid personality disorder consists of constant feelings of mistrust, irrational fears, and the belief that people are conspiring against you. This mistrust and suspicion can extend to all areas of a teen’s life, to a degree where they don’t feel anyone is trustworthy. The teen may suspect others of trying to control them, having hidden agendas, or having dishonest motivations in general. This can lead to them becoming obsessively independent and isolating themselves from everyone whom they consider to be a potential threat.
Obdurate Paranoids – characterized by extremely high confidence and related stubbornness, causing people to behave obstinately, regardless of the potential harm it may cause others.
Fanatic Paranoids – characterized by narcissistic tendencies, such as boasting and exaggerating their own qualities, in order to hide or diminish their flaws.
Querulous Paranoids – characterized by a negative overall attitude, resulting in consistent whining, arguing, and being resentful and moody.
Insular Paranoids – characterized by extreme suspicion of others and harm they may cause, leading people to be reclusive and avoid social interaction, in order to avoid the inevitable harm that awaits them.
Malignant Paranoids – characterized by an overall hostile and callous demeanor, as well as a desire to take revenge upon those by whom they feel wronged.
As with several other mental health issues, the causes for paranoid personality disorder are complex and multi-layered. There is no single concrete cause that one can point at in any given case, and each teen with paranoid personality disorder developed their symptoms for individual reasons. Common risk factors associated with the disorder include:
Family history of psychosis – it’s shown that teens with a family history of schizophrenia or disorders on the schizophrenic spectrum are more likely to develop paranoid symptoms and a paranoid personality disorder.
Early childhood trauma – trauma is shown to play a role in the development of paranoid personalities, as a person begins to withdraw inwards, become increasingly isolated, and lose all trust for others as a coping mechanism to deal with extreme stress after a severe personal betrayal. Teens with paranoid personality disorder may have had their sense of trust irrevocably shattered at some point in a developmental stage in their life.
of the general population has a personality disorder
of the population struggles with paranoid personality disorder
as many men are likely to struggle with paranoid personality disorder vs. women
Tread carefully and be honest – understand that how you act and talk is scrutinized more heavily by your teen than any other individual. Attempts to trick them or force them into treatment will make them retreat further into their own shell and refuse to ever come out. Be on your teen’s side, insofar that you want them to get better, and you know that trying to push them towards treatment won’t do the trick. Having your teen’s total trust is the first step to getting them help. From there, it’s important to talk to them about their behavior and help them realize why they might be irrational. Take it slow and be careful. There may be setbacks in your relationship, but if you keep working at it, then they may come to realize they’re paranoid after all.
Don’t lash out at your teen – anything you may do to increase your teen’s mistrust of you will backfire tremendously. It’s important to maintain a healthy understanding of who your teen is as a person, and what behavior of theirs is ruled by paranoid thought and irrational thinking. Don’t let your frustrations rule your mind and cloud your judgment and take care of your own mental health.
Work with professionals to help them – your teen’s ability to live a normal life depends heavily on their ability to healthily interact with others and learning to differentiate between paranoid thought and reality is a hefty task, especially when a teen’s trust is so difficult to gain. Therapists who have helped diagnose and treat your teen can give you better insight into how to mitigate their symptoms and help support them. It may take several tries for your teen to finally stick to a treatment plan, often because they may mistrust it after a while. But if you don’t give up, there’s hope yet that they will accept treatment.
The idea of treatment in and of itself can be extremely difficult and threatening to people with paranoid personality disorder, because often teens don’t view themselves as paranoid. The suggestion that they need help and the presence of doctors and therapists all fall under suspicion and are therefore considered untrustworthy. This belief can be a real challenge in trying to implement teen paranoid personality disorder treatment.
If, however, a teen is willing to seek treatment, the first step is for the therapist to build a sense of trust, which may take time. Once this trust is established, a therapist can work with the teen to address their false negative views and suspicions and, in time, help them to replace those negative beliefs with rational ones.
Medication can provide some relief from the symptoms and anxiety a teen may be feeling, but is again, often seen as a suspicious threat and can be very challenging to recommend. In most cases, medication is used to help a teen deal with delusions or depressive symptoms, rather than treating the paranoia. That’s the purview of therapy.
The first step in treatment is gaining a teen’s trust. Therapists may employ different methods to do so, but always take note of how they should best speak to the teen in order to be non-confrontational and convince them that they’re both on the same side. This can be very difficult with argumentative teens, but given enough time, progress can be made. This is part of the talk therapy but is always the first step. Without an established basis of trust, therapy is essentially useless.
Psychotherapy or talk therapy is the primary form of treatment for paranoid personality disorders. The point here is to help a teen realize that they have a problem with the way they see reality, and that they are not thinking rationally.
By helping a teen understand that their view of themselves and others is distorted, and that this view is causing them to act in disruptive, or potentially dangerous ways, lashing out at others, becoming isolated and antisocial, and increasingly fearful and depressed. By bringing a teen to the point where they can identify the flaws in their thinking and behavior, therapists can then help them think and act in a healthier manner, one that allows them to open up to others again, trust themselves and others, and become a functioning member of society.
Medication is not usually prescribed when treating someone with paranoid personality disorder, and it is difficult to get a teen with paranoid personality disorder to take their medication if they believe that it’s part of a nefarious plot to sabotage them or may otherwise change their thinking in a negative way.
In cases where a teen is exhibiting severe depressive symptoms (including frequent suicidal thoughts) or is experiencing acute delusions, antidepressants and anti-psychotic medication may be utilized to help them stay alive and better manage their disorder through therapy.
Paradigm Malibu is a place of treatment – but getting a paranoid teen to understand that may take some time. To help foster a healthy environment for the treatment of teen paranoid personality disorder, Paradigm Malibu has chosen locations that are open, positive, and surrounded by nature.
A Place for Trust
Teens are given their own space but are encouraged to explore the facility and spend time in the outdoors, at the beach, among trees, or by a porch with a book. They can choose to engage with others freely, and there are group therapy sessions and group activities to help teens learn how to interact socially and put to use what they learned during therapy.
Therapists at Paradigm Malibu work with each teen to establish a bond of trust, before moving on to examine a teen’s thoughts and behavior, and how they might improve their thinking in order to overcome their disorder.
It's been three months since my 17-year-old son returned to us from his 30-day stay at Paradigm Malibu and, I can honestly say, I have never seen him happier, more optimistic, or more excited about his future. This program not only saved my son's life, it provided him a means by which to heal, as well as an array of tools for dealing with his anxiety and depression. Too, and just as importantly, it taught my husband and me how to be better parents to our teenager; how to more effectively communicate with him; and how to let him be responsible for his own happiness. Like so many other deeply grateful parents, I can't say enough about the team of therapists whose expertise, kindness, compassion and dedication drew my son out of his dark depression, challenged him to challenge himself, re-instilled in him the will to live, and brought the beautiful smile back to his face. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
– Chantal C.
How successful is teen paranoid personality disorder treatment?
Because of the nature of the disorder, the suspicion and doubt a teen has toward most things will often include the therapists, facilities, and medications that treatment usually entails. This is a common challenge and one for which parents must be prepared. Once a teen is willing to engage in therapy, real progress can be made towards helping them.