Schizophrenia: Helping Someone Who Is Paranoid

Skip Navigation


You may be able to tell when someone with schizophrenia is paranoid. The person may accuse others of trying to harm them or may look around fearfully. The person may talk about protecting themself from attack.

There are some ways you can help a person who is paranoid.

  • Don't argue.

    Ask questions about the person's fears. Talk to the person about the paranoia if they want to listen to you.

  • Use simple directions, if needed.

    Tell the person that no harm will come to them and that you can help. For example, "Sit down, and let's talk about it."

  • Give the person enough personal space so that they don't feel trapped or surrounded.

    Stay with the person but at a distance that's comfortable for them and you. Stay more than an arm's reach away.

  • Call for help if you think anyone is in danger.
  • Move the person away from the cause of the fear or from noise and activity, if possible.
  • Ask the person to tell you what is causing the fear.

    Make a direct statement that you aren't afraid.

  • Focus the person on what is real.
  • Tell the person everything you're going to do before you do it.

    For example, "I'm going to take out my cell phone."

Related Information


Current as of: June 24, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.