Paranoia

Last Updated: September 29, 2018

Definition - What does Paranoia mean?

Paranoia is a psychological condition characterized by strong beliefs, feelings, or thoughts of perceived criticism, danger, harassment, persecution, and threats. Paranoia tends to be grounded in irrational behavior that often leads to delusions, causing a persistent disconnect from reality. There is no definitive evidence to confirm the biochemical origin in the brain for paranoia. However, it is consistently identified as a symptom attributed to the use of any of a broad number of illicit drugs. It can also be caused by neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, paranoid personality disorder, and schizophrenia.

WorkplaceTesting explains Paranoia

Paranoia usually creates a sense of unreasonable and erratic behavior and thoughts in people resulting in anxiety, fear, and hostility despite a lack of evidence to support their mindset. A paranoid person can feel distrustful or suspicious of other people’s intentions and/or motives to the point that it interferes with normal social interaction. While paranoia ordinarily reflects a neurological and/or psychotic diagnosis, certain drugs can also induce paranoid states.

Some commonly prescribed medications that can create paranoia include corticosteroids, amantadine (anti-Parkinson drug), Ritalin (amphetamine), anti-HIV medicines, and Nardil (antidepressant). Other legal and Illegal drugs can cause paranoia such as alcohol, cocaine, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana, and phencyclidine (PCP). People undergoing withdrawals from using particular drugs can also experience paranoia as a potential side effect. Paranoia can often be treated by switching a medication or discontinuing use. However, individuals with progressive mental and/or neurological conditions or damage from drug use can face lifelong paranoia episodes.

This definition was written in the context of Drug Testing
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