Difference between Paranoia and Anxiety
By Theydiffer - October 5, 2015

Paranoia and anxiety are two separate conditions. Sometimes anxiety symptoms accompany paranoia, but only rarely paranoia symptoms accompany anxiety. Both anxiety and paranoia are caused by fear and manifest themselves in excessive worry. However, paranoia and anxiety differ in some ways. We will take a closer look at those differences.


The term “paranoia” is used by psychiatrists to describe conditions in which the patient believes in a delusion to such an extent that this belief becomes a prominent feature. The delusions are not based on something that exists in reality, they rather refer to themselves. A paranoid person may think that somebody’s behavior is threatening to him. The term paranoia signifies the disorder which many psychiatrists believe does not exist per se. Paranoia is generally seen by professional psychiatrists as a component of a diagnosis, such as paranoid schizophrenia and some types of delusional disorders.

Anxiety is the mental state in which the individual suffering from it shows excessive worry due to a forthcoming event. Symptoms of anxiety are both mental and physical and include a wide variety of applications, such as social phobia, feeling “on edge,” insomnia, muscle tension, increased heart rate.

Comparison chart

Worries are extremeWorries are moderate
More severe forms of accompanying conditions, such as delusionsLess acute forms of accompanying conditions

Paranoia vs Anxiety

What is the difference between paranoia and anxiety? Let’s compare them by the extremity of worries they cause and by the severity of accompanying conditions.

  • Individuals with paranoia perceive potential danger and conspiracy against them in the extreme. Paranoids truly believe that their lives are in danger due to their delusions. Individuals with anxiety do not feel the threat, they simply worry that something can go wrong in the future.
  • In general, accompanying mental conditions take much more severe forms with paranoia than with anxiety. Patients suffering from various forms of paranoia have severe delusions which may require clinical attention. Paranoia is sometimes accompanied and caused by schizophrenia. Mental conditions that accompany anxiety are less severe and people suffering from anxiety in most cases can cope with it with less invasive medical attention involved.