One interesting psychological trait of teens is the belief in being the center of attention, even when they are not. For instance, an adolescent might be grossly concerned about how he or she looks because “everybody’s noticing”. There seems to be a large imaginary audience for teens that makes them particularly egocentric. However, this is not necessarily a negative trait of adolescence. In fact, it leads to a sense of being invincible, invulnerable, and the heroes of their own personal fantasy. It’s one of the classic inner experiences of being an adolescent.
Yet, for other teens, this feeling that everyone is watching can begin to feel and look like paranoia. If blown out of proportion that feeling can go awry. The thought and feeling that everyone is watching can turn into an invasive experience. And in fact, for some teens, the stress of the psychological, emotional, and physical changes of adolescence coupled with the weight of the world’s eyes on them can lead to the development of certain mental illnesses.
If the paranoia becomes excessively pervasive, there might be signs of a personality disorder. Many clinicians would argue that teens can’t be diagnosed with a personality disorder because their personalities are not yet fixed. Not until an individual is an adult, when he or she is over 18, can there be a diagnosis of such a disorder. However, more and more, mental health clinicians are beginning to see early signs of certain personality disorders in teens that would point to a diagnosis even while they are approaching adulthood. For this reason, adolescents can indeed exhibit signs of Paranoid Personality Disorder. For this reason, the persistent experience of paranoia in a teen warrants the assistance of a mental health professional.
A teen exhibiting traits of Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD) might be suspicious, argumentative, paranoid, and continually on the lookout for deceit. He or she might have a tendency to be jealous, blame others, and be cold and humorless. Paranoid Personality Disorder is marked by a profound, long-term, and unjustified conviction that other people are hostile, dangerous, and out to get them. It often leads to social isolation and depression.
It is important to note the some teens might experience minor paranoia and some moodiness as a part of adolescence, without interference in their ability to function. However, if the symptoms listed above are experienced for a lengthy amount of time and if they get in the way of their ability to do well at school or perform well at work, PPD might be considered. Sometimes, however, paranoia can be a symptom of depression. In a depressed state, a teen might feel as though they cannot trust anyone. As a result, he or she may begin to withdraw from social activities, friends, and school events.
Along these lines, paranoia can also be experienced with drug use. Amphetamines and marijuana, for example, can cause paranoia in those who use them. On the flip side, if paranoia is a recurrent experience and the presence of PPD is likely, some teens may turn to drugs as a way to escape the discomforts of chronic paranoia.
Treating Paranoid Personality Disorder can be difficult because the symptoms are typically long lasting and enduring. Yet, therapy along with medication can provide some relief of symptoms. If there are any signs at all that indicate an enduring pattern of paranoia, see a mental health professional. If your teen does in fact undergo treatment for a personality disorder, it would be important to also discuss the possible diagnosis of depression and addiction.