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Can Ptsd Lead To Paranoid Delusions

Discussion in 'Other Symptoms & Disorders' started by PTSD sufferer, Aug 26, 2011.

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  1. PTSD sufferer

    PTSD sufferer Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Hi All,

    A question I asked myself and google and found no answer. My T says flashbacks are part reality, part delusion. We have also talked about false memories and confabulations and the propensity of the mind to distort history as the years progress...not always the answer you want to hear, but a fair enough point to be made.

    I have been on a quest ever since to try to distinguish Memory from delusion which is hard going. But I was wondering, if trauma causes PTSD, then can the fact that you have PTSD cause trauma? Could having PTSD make you more paranoid than usual or even delusional because of the constant hyper vigilance?

    Are you more paranoid now you have PTSD or before it reared it's ugly head? Are you more paranoid when you have flashbacks than when you are not having flashbacks? Can having PTSD traumatize you more? Is there any link between PTSD causing paranoid delusions?

    So many questions...

    Love to all, xxoo
    BloomInWinter likes this.
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  3. BloomInWinter

    BloomInWinter Learning to live single and free
    Premium Member


    Our efforts to resolve unprocessed trauma can lead to traumatic re-enactment of the situation via a 'similar enough' situation.

    Our Anxiety and fears can cause us to generalize out the original trauma to a place/time/person/thing that reminds us of that...then we avoid that which reminded us of the original, and so on, and so on, until we're afraid to leave the house.

    ...and constriction of our lives occurs.
    Srain likes this.
  4. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Interesting thoughts.

    I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say PTSD causes paranoid delusions. But I do think you have something in that PTSD, and my hypervigilance sometimes make me over-react to situations. That causes me trauma. Several years ago, and several years after my trauma (rape). A girl grabbed me by the throat (because I was talking to her ex boyfriend!), it completely freaked me out. The feeling that I couldn't breathe, the pressure on my neck etc, brought on flashblacks of when I was raped, so for me, that incident was very traumatic. So maybe I reacted to the situation in a way that others without PTSD would have reacted, but I don't see my reaction as delusional, or paranoid. More a 'normal' reaction considering my past. But I do consider it to have been a traumatising situation, where as someone without my history may have been able to 'brush it off' with more ease than me.
    Srain likes this.
  5. BloomInWinter

    BloomInWinter Learning to live single and free
    Premium Member

    Hmmm....good point, ((((((((cherryblossom)))))))...probably not helpful to mislabel the generalized paranoid with the actual medical diagnosis.

    So I'll say instead...there's a range of paranoid type behaviors. :>

    ...Which, in the context of our traumas, once we know them and can relay them, seem to often make perfect sense.

    Then, they wouldn't be considered 'delusional' if they still are, maybe that's when it goes into pathology?
  6. Srain

    Srain "Please don't tell me not to cry."
    Premium Member

    Interesting thought, why are you asking, huh??:speechless::ninja::cautious:

    :sneaky:HA! Yes, yes, and yes, but I wonder if my "paranoia" isn't due to it being pointed out to me on such a regular basis and my paying more attention to my "watching out for myself and others" because of my proper diagnosis.

    I am vigilant but I have also lived as a single woman or in large cities and knew the risks. I do insist on protecting myself and not being a victim if I can help it, if that is paranoid then I've always been paranoid, however, that has done me only so much good in personal relationships as I painstakingly worked my way through therapy all these years unaware that I was going the long way. I did make progress but not without additional scars.

    I don't know I guess it's when the paranoia becomes embarrassing is when I shut up about it. :tdown:
  7. anthony

    anthony Master of none!

    Flashbacks are actually also extremely rare... many think they have a flashback, but aren't... and instead they are just having memory recollection, not literally a dissociated state whilst a literal video replay type event occurs within your mind.

    Its actually called retraumatization, being the word you're looking for I believe. Yes... having PTSD can be retraumatizing.


    What you need to understand is that you choose to break the cycle at any given time by intervening within it and implementing positive change over the negative direction you were headed.

    You actually control you more than you think, even though you may feel quite delusional and out of control. I went through it for years, then I made a decision that enough was enough and I didn't want to live like that, as I was continuously getting worse and worse. So I stopped the cycle of retraumatization and behaviour, and implemented positive change through behavioural change. That is what you control... the choice and the effort of work to change.

    PTSD is an extremely nasty mental illness... and the worse it is, the worse the effects can be.
  8. PTSD sufferer

    PTSD sufferer Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Thanks all for the comments. It's very enlightening.

    Rain, to explain with a recent example....

    My husband and I had dinner with a neighbor and his wife (who are very kind natured and I get on well with). Towards the end of the dinner the husband had a look on his face that immediately reminded me of 'the look' on my abusers face in my flashbacks. It was an awful experience, because his face 'almost morphed' into the abusers (just for a split second). Of course I became very agitated and quickly distracted myself by focusing on a conversation with his wife and it went away. But the result is that I have become a little paranoid about running into him (without my husband present) even though I know logically and rationally that he is not a threat. Now, this is clearly the development of a paranoid delusion about my neighbor...based on a flashback? Or is the PTSD now making me delusional?

    Anthony, thanks for your comments.

    They make perfect sense. I feel for you but to to be honest I am also glad that I am not alone. I am at the high end of the scale and classified as having the more severe PTSD. I'm not happy about it and know my prognosis for recovery keeps getting extended because of it.

    I find 'having' the flashbacks as well as the 'content' of the flashbacks very traumatizing. 'Loosing it' so to speak is very traumatizing and I can see now that I am in a bit of a cycle as you suggest. Was traumatized, have flashbacks that are traumatic, am traumatized more...'loosing it'...'loosing it' more...

    I do need to inject some positive behavioral change into my life. I too make the decision not to live this way. Time for positive change! Thanks for the advice.
  9. anthony

    anthony Master of none!

    The way you stop flashbacks, is you tackle the triggers through Exposure therapy... though you must also ensure if you have unresolved trauma, that this is also being tackled through cognitive therapy first / together... otherwise exposure therapy will only make you worse, without any recovery... even though it will make you much worse initially during it, the end result will be a dramatic reduction in fear based symptoms and issues within daily life.

    Its a two pronged attack...
    PTSD sufferer likes this.
  10. DHC

    DHC New Member

    I have ptsd and I've been delusional before. I was given risperdal for it. I sure don't know if it was the ptsd or something else I might have. I also dissociate a lot. I was paranoid and then it became so bad I thought I was like a religious icon or something. Was not fun.
  11. PTSD sufferer

    PTSD sufferer Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Hi Anthony,

    Dealing with unresolved trauma is an issues I need to do more work on. Every time I resolve one trauma story, another emerges to be dealt with. I have done CBT around my Core beliefs, but should probably do more work on that. There are so many triggers, new ones every week. You're right I need to go back to the core and deal with that first.

    Hi DHC,

    Thanks for sharing. I too have problems with disassociation. It's a major issue in my flashbacks and something I have been looking for a tool to make sure I don't do it ever again. It's important for me to have consciousness, to be aware, to hear, to see, and to be in control.

    I'm on a heavy does of meds (300mg Quitezapane). I need the mood stabilizing effects to manage my extreme anxiety. There are talks about doubling it again :(. I was in remission and reducing them (was down to 150mg and stable for months) but that was curtailed by another 'trauma flashback' episode. Back to square one for me...

    My therapist is concerned about developing 'persecutionary delusions'..Guess the story about my neighbor proves his theory true....bugger!

    I agree completely with you - not a nice thing to have, and to add on top of PTSD, I am finding life very difficult these days...
  12. anthony

    anthony Master of none!

    Its a process... sure, you identified you need to relook the core, however; as you do get through one issue, more will arise. The point is that eventually you will knock all the issues out, and suddenly you have no more experiences of importance that cause you distress... you're just left with you and everything else are just bad memories.
  13. Ed Norton

    Ed Norton I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I thought that the Russian and Zionist mafia were trying to kill me
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