How to deal with a Parent with Paranoid personality disorder (PPD)?

In this blog, we will answer the question, “How to deal with a Parent with Paranoid personality disorder?”, and discuss what paranoid personality disorder is, its signs, causes, what it is like to be living with a parent who has a paranoid personality disorder, and answer frequently asked questions

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Family Counseling

How to deal with a Parent with Paranoid personality disorder (PPD)?

It must be difficult to be a child with a parent/parents with a paranoid personality disorder but it is a mental condition that can be managed with appropriate treatment and dealing with a parent who has a paranoid personality disorder is quite tricky.

Here is what you need to remember while dealing with a parent with PPD:

  • Put yourself in your parent’s shoes and try to view their condition from their perspective
  • Try to understand how difficult it must have been living like them, being under constant suspicion of others, fear of someone doing something bad to them, etc. 
  • Try to remain calm whenever dealing with them
  • Understand that they are not doing it to gain attention
  • Do not indulge in arguments or provide logical explanations
  • Try to acknowledge and accept them with their condition
  • Take them to psychotherapy and support their journey
  • Help them find support groups with people who have PPD

We will get into the details of what all you can do while dealing with a parent with PPD but before that let us understand paranoid personality disorder. 

What are personality disorders?

Personality can be described as characteristics of a person, coping styles, and forms of interaction in the social environment that emerge in childhood and usually crystallize into established patterns in late adolescence or early adulthood.  

These patterns form the personality of the individual: the set of unique traits and behaviors that characterize the person. Individually. 

For a personality disorder to be diagnosed, the person’s enduring pattern of behavior must be stable, pervasive, long-lasting, and inflexible. 

It must also cause clinically significant distress or impairment and be manifest in at least two of the following areas: cognition, affect, interpersonal functioning, or impulse control. 

All personality disorders are divided into three clusters: Cluster A, B, C.

What is Paranoid Personality Disorder?

Paranoid personality disorder falls into cluster A, which is called the odd and eccentric type of disorder.  It is estimated that PPD affects between 2.3% and 4.4% of the general population. 

People with PPD are extremely distrustful and suspicious of others, without any reason that can make sense. They assume other people are trying to trick them or in some cases that others are trying to hurt or even kill them; therefore, they tend not to trust others. 

Signs and symptoms of PPD

The signs and symptoms of people suffering from a paranoid personality disorder (PPD)  are as follows: In a general sense, people with PPD feel suspicious of others.

  • They might always believe that their family, romantic partners, and friends are untrustworthy and unfaithful
  • They frequently burst out their emotions in response to perceived deception. 
  • They always feel as if they are being lied to, or being used by others.
  • They always seem cold, distant, intrusive, and serious.
  • They try to overly control people around them, so they know they are not being manipulated. 
  • They often hold negative opinions about people around them. 
  • They look for hidden gestures and meanings in conversations.
  • They are extremely sensitive to criticism. In fact even if they have been given a genuine compliment, they might mistake it for sarcasm and be offended. I.e Overreaction in response to perceived criticism.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5) also specifies that along with having symptoms as described above,  a diagnosis of PPD has to be made, only if these symptoms are not related to a psychotic episode associated with any other mental disorders like; schizophrenia, a depressive disorder with psychotic features,  bipolar disorder, etc. 

Causes of PPD

There can be many reasons which can explain why a person is diagnosed with PPD. However, it is not possible to pinpoint a reason because often, a mental disorder originates due to multiple interacting factors. The reasons known as of now are a persons’ genetic makeup, brain chemistry, abuse of drugs and alcohol, social learning, anxiety, social environment, etc. 

Living with a Parent with paranoid personality disorder 

Dealing with someone who has PPD can be stressful and exhausting, even more so if it is someone you live with like a parent, sibling, or partner. 

Having a parent with a personality disorder can be harmful to a child’s development, both genetically and because of the stress of living with a parent who has a personality condition that impacts their parenting abilities.

Parenting is a difficult endeavor that necessitates good mental health on the part of the parents. They must be able to control their own negative thoughts and emotions in particular. They must be cautious in how they react to their own children’s worry or suffering.

They need to have frequent reality checks, be tolerant and be able to communicate with others who may be part of their child’s life. They need to be sympathetic and empathetic towards the vulnerability and dependence of kids. 

However, in a parent with PPD, there exists a general distrust, suspicion, overthinking and worrying, expectations about proving loyalty to them all the time, being defensive and cold. 

This affects the lives of children in myriad ways. 

Keeping genetics aside, children need a proper environment and upbringing to be able to function properly in their lives. But, when a parent has PPD this environment is greatly affected. Children do not receive the trust or support that they require. 

In fact, older children in their teens might end up having to take care of their parents who keep looking at them through a microscope. Knowing that a parent does not trust you or keeps doubting you is the last thing a child who does not understand the reason why this is happening needs. 

How does a parent with PPD affect their child?

Children develop low self-esteem and negative self-perception.

They develop unstable and insecure stressful family relationships. Children might develop a strong fear of abandonment and hence in the future they might constantly need to seek comfort, and might also develop a distrustful demeanor themselves. 

Growing up they might become unable to express themselves because their parents would have invalidated their emotions and emotional needs for so long. 

Since parents with paranoid personality disorder are often emotionally inconsistent they can go from being extremely emotional to hostile in minutes. These inconsistencies might create a highly stressful environment that will affect the child’s social, emotional and other development. 

Parents with PPD are also overprotective. At times, they do not allow their children to socialize with their peers in an attempt to protect them from being abandoned/rejected later. 

Though children might understand their parent’s illness, the fact remains that growing up in that environment is harmful to them. Parents should seek proper treatment and management for themselves and for healthy parenting. Families should also be seeing therapists together so as to be educated about their parent’s illness. 

Treatment and management of PPD

To be blunt, many people suffering from a paranoid personality disorder (PPD) do not seek treatment by themselves. This is because they do not view their behavior as the problem. Even if someone recommends treatment they assume that the person has some ill intentions and becomes hostile. And even after they agree to see a therapist, they might doubt everything they say. 

When they do seek therapy. However, the main focus of the treatment will be on increasing self-esteem, communication, social interaction, coping skills, increasing trust and empathy, etc. 

Cognitive behavior therapy 

CBT is a great choice for people with a paranoid personality disorder. This is because nearly all the traits associated with paranoid personality disorder are deep-seated in distorted cognitive patterns that magnify potential or perceived interpersonal threats and assume malicious intentions from neutral people or harmful situations. 

People with PPD can hence experience a considerable improvement in their symptoms when they learn how to identify and challenge irrational or distorted beliefs in CBT, which is the whole purpose of it. 

Group Therapy 

Since PPD impacts their ability to function in relationships, group therapy can be an effective therapeutic choice. 

Group therapists can provide the same interventions as they would in individual therapy while also assisting a person in exploring and questioning their ideas about other individuals in real-time.

These treatment groups allow people to learn from others with similar problems. People receiving group treatment for paranoid personality disorder see how others are behaving. It is sort of like looking into a mirror and realizing what might be wrong. 

As we also know, groups can make people feel less lonely and give them a safe space to talk about their challenges in an environment free from any stigma. 

Family Therapy

Family therapy can help individuals manage their symptoms while also helping family members understand and learn how to support them in their road to recovery. 

This is probably the best when combined with other forms of therapy. Family therapy is extremely useful in families which have a parent suffering from PPD as it deeply impacts the entire family. 

Medications 

Medications are generally not used to treat PPD. But drugs can be used when symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or other psychiatric conditions exist. 

Tips to deal with a parent with a paranoid personality disorder

  • Try to learn about paranoid personality disorder

The first and foremost step for you is to get to understand all the relevant information about paranoid personality disorder that your parent is suffering from which will help you in supporting them with their condition. 

  • Put yourself in your parent’s shoes

You could try to view your parent’s issues from their perspective. Living with a paranoid personality disorder is very difficult on a daily basis and being a kid of a person with this disorder can feel intimidating. 

Try to understand how difficult it must have been living like them, being under constant suspicion of others, fear of someone doing something bad to them, etc. 

  • Try to remain calm whenever dealing with them

You should keep calm when you are dealing with them and their symptoms associated with a paranoid personality disorder. Do not lose your temper or show them any form of anger or aggression as that can make things worse. 

  • Understand that they are not doing it to gain attention

Try to understand that they are actually suffering from a very complex psychological disorder and they don’t do it to get attention or any secondary gains. They are suffering from a paranoid personality disorder which needs professional interventions and guidance to help them deal with their condition.

  • Do not indulge in arguments or provide logical explanations

You should never get into arguments with them. Living with paranoid personality disorder throws away all the logic, reality, etc., out of the window. All you can do is be there for them. 

  • Try to acknowledge and accept them with their condition

You should accept and acknowledge their condition and try to make living with it work somehow as acceptance is the first step towards making anything better and bearable. 

Living in denial is going to make things worse for you as a family, you should try to come to terms with their condition and find a way to help them on their journey. 

  • Take them to psychotherapy and support their journey

Seek the professional expertise of a psychotherapist and take your parent to psychotherapy sessions that will help them to work through their symptoms and issues. 

Be supportive of their journey and work closely with a psychotherapist to help your parent. 

  • Help them find support groups with people who have PPD 

Support groups are groups of people who are going through something similar, for example- a support group for people with PPD would include everyone who is suffering from a paranoid personality disorder. 

You can find out support groups for them as that can help them become part of a community that has people who are on a similar path to recovery and help them get to know that they are not alone and there are others who suffer from it and support each other on their journey.

Conclusion

We understood all about paranoid personality disorder, its symptoms, treatment, how PPD in a parent affects the child, and also how to deal with a parent with PPD. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): How to deal with a Parent with Paranoid personality disorder?

How to get rid of paranoid personality disorder? 

It is not possible to completely get rid of PPD but treatment can be taken to manage it better. 

How to help children of people with a paranoid personality disorder?

Children should also be encouraged to try new hobbies and pursue their goals according to their interests as it can help them deal with the stress of having a parent with PPD. These children do need specific help in many aspects of their lives. 

What are the signs of paranoid personality disorder? 

The symptoms of PPD include; being unable to forgive or forget insults which at most times are perceived, obsessively holding grudges. Overly careful,and always being on the defensive, being cold and hostile etc. 

How to care for a parent with PPD?

Caring for a parent with paranoid personality disorder can be tedious and stressful. However, convincing them to seek help will be a step in the right direction. Pointing out things that are very obvious in a firm but the subtle way will be very useful. 

Can nutritional counselors help people with PPD? 

Not entirely but to an extent with regards to the physical health and nutrition part. A nutrition counselor can help patients with a paranoid personality disorder by providing a well-rounded diet rich in essential minerals for mental health, such as fatty acids (Omega 3), B vitamins, and magnesium.

References 

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). 

https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/paranoid-personality-disorder/treatment/
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9784-paranoid-personality-disorder#management-and-treatment
https://exploringyourmind.com/parent-paranoid-personality-disorder/
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