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Could somebody please help me? I am in a bit of a pickle. A very good friend of mine is displaying weird symptoms all of a sudden. He seems to think that all passers by know him personally and that he is "famous", which he definitely isn't. He also thinks his ex wife talking about him behind his back and setting up people against him. That is also definitely not the case. What's more, everything he says is all in code now, with cryptic emails and "careful, they're listening" type comments and it's freaking me out. I am worried for his health and think Paranoid Personality Disorder might be what he has. I am not 100% sure of course. 

I could really do with some help. Can someone point me in the right direction?

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Paranoid personality disorder symptoms:

  • Suspicion of others without reasonable cause
  • Being hostile and combative towards others
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Social isolation
  • Being unable to recognize that the perceived reality of a person is not actually reasonable

Your friend is displaying these symptoms, but you do not, for instance, know whether he might also be suffering from hallucinations. The trouble with mental health disorders is that you can't armchair diagnose someone. You can have your suspicions, but the right diagnosis really does take a mental health professional. Since people with these mental health disorders are unable to see that they need help and suggesting it to them will only make them more suspicious, it is hard to get them to the stage where they will see someone. If you are not next of kin, there is also little you can do to take the decision out of their hands. 

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Thank you very much for your reply. During my searches I found out about this as well and I think it is very frustrating. However, although it won't help him, for me it feels good vent my worries about this situation. It is good to be able to share. We used to get together every weekend and even more often, but unfortunately, now I hardly ever see him. It has been this way since I talked to his relatives, who might be able to get him committed, and they were stupid enough to somehow let him know that I had some concern about his wellbeing. Nowadays, I see him maybe once every four months and it is never the same. This is a very sad situation. I find it hard to cope.

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Hello person with paranoid friend,

You must feel pretty helpless, not knowing what to do or where to go with your feelings. Unfortunately I can speak from experience. In my case, it is my cousin who clearly has mental health struggles, both involving alcohol and feelings of persecution. He has aggressive outbursts as well.

What I have found is it really helps to talk to other people about it. There is not much you can do for your loved one with mental illness but maybe it will help to talk to people who are in the same boat. I got in touch with a relative support group and that really helped. I got some good tips from them.
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Paranoid Schizophrenia sounds like a more likely candidate for what your friend has, to me. People with Paranoid Schizophrenia are separated from reality and can see and hear things that are not there, but that seem incredibly real to them. The "careful, they're listening" comment makes it sound like this may be playing a part. People with this diagnosis also tend to isolate themselves from their friends and relatives, which matches your friend as well. Have his symptoms seemed to get worse over a period of time?
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Yes, my friend's symptoms match up with several different mental health diagnoses. It does involve paranoia for sure: the definition of paranoia is basically thinking people are out to get you who are not, and that is definitely happening. I understand that what I did in talking to his relatives only reinforced this idea, we really were talking behind his back. But it was for his own good. Nothing came of that.

I thought I should also mention, in case it gives more insights, that he thought this woman at work was in love with him and he accessed the computer system to find her personal phone number and kept calling her. He thought he was receiving messages via the TV.

The biggest thing is that he thinks people are conspiring against him though.

He used to be my best mate. A very good friend. He was always quirky and eccentric but did not show signs of mental illness until he did. The symptoms came on very suddenly as far as I had the chance to witness anyway.
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Dealing with such delusions is hard.

You are not a therapist. You cannot diagnose your friend and you cannot make him better. Maybe he has paranoid personality disorder. Maybe he has paranoid schizophrenia or something else entirely. Whatever it is, you cannot make him better.

What you can do is be a supportive friend. Just take the initiative to do fun things together. Take him out of his dream world. Do not say you believe his delusions but do not react in any way when he talks about them either. Just try to ignore it and be a friend.

This is the best thing you can do.
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I don't like to talk about it but my paternal family is all messed up with things like that as well... I had an uncle who since committed suicide who was also sure that everyone was against him, plotting to take his property away, trying to kill him, etc... it was very hard and most of us cut ties with him for our own sanity in the end. He never got diagnosed of course, he feared authority figures more than just about anything! He'd not even go to the dentist. Then one day he was gone. So we never found out what he had. Mental illness is hard like that... you're being a great friend here, but it's a very powerless place to be in. 

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Your friend does sound paranoid.

Will knowing the exact diagnosis or just guessing at it make you more able to support your friend as he struggles with his symptoms, though? If you two are/were really close, and you want to attend a support group for people with delusions or paranoia, you can, and you do not need to know an exact diagnosis to be able to do that.

You can do it on the internet as well if you don't want to attend a physical support group.
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Thank you. To everyone, that is. It is hard, yes. I think most of us like to think that when a close friend is at a low point, we would be there to help! But helping when you don't know what to do is just so hard. Starting with whether to just nod along or point out that you think your friend is delusional and the things he is saying are not happening anywhere but in his mind.

That is why I asked what the symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder were, to try to understand if he has this and then see what the best way to support him would be. I guess there is no textbook for dealing with this kind of thing.
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