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  2. Anxiety vs. Paranoid Thoughts
  3. PERSONALLY SPEAKING: ‘My Son Is Mentally Ill’; So Listen Up.
  4. Paranoia and Delusional Disorders | Mental Health America

The remainder of the differences between people are the product of environmental factors — essentially everything apart from our DNA, including the experiences we have gone through during our lifetime, but also potentially some biological factors too.

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What the study shows then is that, although genes play a part in these kinds of experiences, the environment is generally more important. Whether we have them depends as much, if not more, on what happens to us during our lives as it does on the genes with which we were born. The study has intriguing implications for the understanding of schizophrenia. At their most severe and persistent, paranoia, grandiosity and hallucinations are usually taken as symptoms of the illness — a disorder that has typically been regarded as highly heritable.

But the research casts doubt on the view that these experiences should be lumped together under this diagnosis. The figures showed only a moderate association between the incidence of paranoia and hallucinations genes accounted for much of the overlap. Grandiosity was even less likely to crop up alongside either of the other two experiences. By definition, these are people with many and complicated problems.

In fact, the only common factor in these patient studies may be the presence of severe social difficulties.

Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD)

Perhaps this social dysfunction is what the higher heritability estimates have been capturing, and not the psychotic experiences themselves. Schizophrenia is rarely diagnosed in people as young as those in our study. Nevertheless, what we see here is a new way of approaching the illness. Instead of getting bogged down in problematic diagnostic categories, the focus is switched to the psychotic experiences themselves.

Like feelings of sadness or anxiety, they exist on a spectrum of severity in the population. And these experiences, the research shows, are far more likely to be triggered by environmental factors than we might previously have supposed. Medical research Mental health Health blogposts. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. In the 17th and 18th centuries, for instance, doctors considered hypochondria a form of hysteria or madness, one that arose from an imbalance of humors or nerves.

I mention this not to make the rather obvious point that things change with time, but because the ways in which doctors understand mental illness determines how these illnesses are treated. Being diagnosed with hypochondria in the 18th century meant something very different than it means today. In the beginning of the 20th century, hypochondria would have been treated with intensive psychoanalysis, a tradition now reserved largely for academic study or, like me, those individuals inclined to think it actually works.

While some studies have shown limited success treating hypochondria with SSRIs, the same class of drugs used to treat anxiety and depression, the results have otherwise been inconclusive. Most commonly, treatment consists of some form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT , with the ultimate aim of reconceptualizing illness and the particular ideas the patient has concerning it. Why is my fear of illness a problem? Sure, some days I do less work, and some days I truly do agonize over my fears, but who ever said we are supposed to feel happy all the time?

Death and illness are a fundamental part of the human experience, as are reactions to them like fear, anxiety and sadness. People do suffer greatly from mental illness, and in no way am I suggesting we ignore or diminish their pain.

Anxiety vs. Paranoid Thoughts

My point is that, much like methods of treatment, how we determine what is healthy and what is not varies over time and across cultures, and this is something that often gets lost in a world looking for a quick fix. This is one thing hypochondria has taught me: there is not always a cause with an easy solution. Sometimes things just hurt for no clear reason.

On my more anxious days, this fact haunts me in ways I would wish upon no one. I find myself prisoner to my imagination, and would likely accept any method of treatment offered.

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On better days, however, I see hypochondria as a curious blessing. My often absurd refusal to accept that I am healthy has forced me to consider things I would have never considered, to remain uncertain. Yeah I hear it. Mental illness is incredibly complex. Maybe it has nothing to do with our brains, or our genes, or the culture — or maybe it does. Maybe it is all of these things, together, and by looking for the easy solution we are missing the point. To truly treat mental illness, we need look at them all, and remain uncertain.

PERSONALLY SPEAKING: ‘My Son Is Mentally Ill’; So Listen Up.

I have a tendency to assume the worst. I died that day, in my imagination, a hundred times. Ask a therapist or neurobiologist? The answer to this question depends on who you ask. WebMD and Google feeding obsession Access to websites like WebMD and others pulled up in Google searches have probably contributed to the rise in illness-related anxiety — take as an example, this graph showing the spike in ALS-related searches coinciding with the bucket challenge — but are they really the cause of our growing obsession with health?

Paranoia and Delusional Disorders | Mental Health America

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