Why am I so paranoid about someone breaking in?

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In this blog we will discuss the question “Why am I so paranoid about someone breaking in?”

We will also explore what you can do to cope and manage this paranoia about someone breaking into your house. 

Why am I so paranoid about someone breaking in?

If you are paranoid about someone breaking into your home, of being a victim of crime, or having to come face to face with a criminal inside of your home, it is possible that you have Scelerophobia.

Scelerophobia refers to the fear of crime or criminals and this involves paranoid thoughts of having something wicked or something criminal done to them such as being robbed, or mugged, or being held hostage in their homes etc. 

It has not been clearly determined what causes Scelerophobia however,  it is possible that this particular phobia can be a result of PTSD from crime that they were victims of, or from observing other individuals who have had crimes done to them, usually people close to them, or from first hand exposure to the crime. 

However, it is also possible that this fear might arise without any negative experiences as listed above and this fear might have developed due to other causes, one being too much media consumption related to crimes. 

Other factors also include:

  • Living in a high crime rate area where there have been instances of criminal activity might make an individual more aware and more anxious. 
  • Being a woman could also lead to heightened awareness and anxiety due to crime rates towards women being statistically higher. 
  • Being an elderly individual can also lead to higher fears of crime and criminal activity because of their vulnerable disposition, so they might develop a fear that they will not be able to defend themselves. (PsychTimes)

In severe cases, individuals with this paranoia would struggle with a lot of anxiety regarding the safety of themselves, their loved ones, or even the things they own, and at times they might even struggle with feeling safe in their own house. 

It is likely that individuals with this paranoia would often obsess over issues related to security and might engage in precautionary behaviours such as locking doors, adding multiple security systems, installing cameras as well as going to extreme lengths to have their valuables protected.

They might also engage in repetitive behaviours to ensure safety, lose sleep over it, and also be so occupied with this fear and doing many things to prevent it from happening that they neglect their other areas of responsibility like their work, their personal relationships etc. 

In severe cases, it is also possible that such individuals might also be triggered into full blown panic attacks when they are under severe stress related to their fears of being a victim of crime or of criminals which might require medical assistance in some cases. 

At some point they might develop other phobias, anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, social phobias, as well as agoraphobia if their symptoms cause much dysfunction in their lives, and because of this they might also develop a sense of hopelessness and eventually, depression. 

What can I do to cope when I become so paranoid about someone breaking in?

Here are a few things you can do, some steps that you can take to cope and manage the paranoia of someone breaking into your home or your space. 

Be prepared

Secure your home by taking sufficient preventative measures to ensure that you and your family are safe. 

This includes setting up security systems, outdoor floodlights, cameras with alarm systems and motion sensors, moving to a gated community with security services, as well as adopting a pet or a guard dog. Taking defence classes to help you remain agile and ready in the case you need to defend yourself. 

You can also consider getting yourself a registered gun or weapon if it is legal. However, make sure that you have had ample training if you are going to keep a gun and store it in a safe, away from children, and separate from the ammunition. 

Identify the thought for what it is 

Most of these paranoia and fear of having your house broken into does involve intrusive thoughts that you cannot ignore.

When you come across a thought that is intrusive and distressing, don’t suppress it or try to reject them away. 

Instead acknowledge its existence in your mind and identify them for what they are- intrusive thoughts are not predictions nor does it guarantee that it will happen. These are just thoughts that will come and go. 

Don’t fight it

As mentioned above, don’t fight it. Take notice of it, acknowledge it. Now acknowledging it is different from accepting it. 

Acknowledging a thought, is to understand that it is there in your mind but not rejecting it nor judging the thought. Simply observe the thought. 

The more you try to push away these thoughts, the more likely they will come back and the more likely that it will be more distressing. Let the thought be, and let yourself be. It will pass.

Rationalise your thoughts

Engaging in Rationalising your thoughts related to your fears and anxiety by making use of worksheets and workbooks related to anxiety and phobias while also putting forward real evidence to calm your anxieties.

Seek out support

Seeking out support from friends and family in the case that you find yourself extremely afraid. 

Reaching out to them, via phone call or asking them to be with you on days that the anxiety is really overpowering can be a good way to cope. 

Replace these thoughts with positive thoughts

Once you’ve let yourself be with these thoughts, replace these thoughts with something positive, something real. 

Take time to notice what is happening in the present. Instead of focusing on the what ifs, focus on what is and what you are doing at the moment and who you are in the present. 

Make positive lifestyle changes

Take care of yourself. Avoid drinking and doing drugs, instead eat a healthy diet that is full of nutrients and engage in exercise- this can be walks, joining the gym, or running a marathon. 

Make changes that benefit your physical health as well as allow you to engage with a positive crowd. If you think socialisation is not something you want to do, then there are plenty of exercises that you can do alone. Make sure you get good sleep by developing a healthy sleep hygiene as well.

Consider therapy

If your symptoms are debilitating or severe to the point where it is getting in the way of your day to day life, the most advisable thing you can do is to seek treatment from a mental health professional.

You will have the option of engaging in Behavioural change techniques used in behavioural therapy as well as cognitive behavioural therapy techniques which have enough evidence that set them as good treatment options for your paranoia

Cognitive behavioural therapy

In terms of Cognitive behavioural therapies your therapist will teach you how to regulate your negative and irrational thoughts when you come across triggers. 

As you engage in therapy you will start learning to alter your thoughts, develop an awareness of how you feel, challenge your beliefs and assumptions surrounding mental illness and mental health and build healthier and well-informed ones. 

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

MBSR is an evidence-based program that involves mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety and other mental health issues. 

MBSR could be helpful in helping individuals deal with their intrusive thoughts as it has been found to be effective in tackling anxiety issues by helping individuals learn how to develop a mindful awareness of one’s thoughts and behaviours that aggravate paranoia. 

The program involves teaching and training individuals to develop skills to cope with the ansirty or to reduce the intensity of the paranoia. 

Rational Emotive Behavioural therapy

REBT is an action-oriented type of CBT that addresses unhealthy or irrational beliefs and attitudes that influence thoughts,  emotions, and behaviours. 

It follows the ABC model of developing an awareness about the processes that influenced the development of the intrusive thoughts such as the activating event, the beliefs that were developed as a result and the consequences of those beliefs. 

It uses a method known as “disputing” to assist individuals develop realistic and healthy beliefs and as a consequence develop the ability to rationalise their thoughts and their emotional and behavioural responses as well. 

Pharmacological treatment

If your anxiety is extremely severe your doctor may prescribe you antidepressants or an anti-anxiety medication to assist your phobia treatment, your panic, and other physical symptoms.

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed the question “Why am I so paranoid about someone breaking in?”

We also explored what you can do to cope and manage this paranoia about someone breaking into your house. 

What is the fear of someone breaking into your house called?

If you are paranoid about someone breaking into your home, of being a victim of crime, or having to come face to face with a criminal inside of your home, it is possible that you have Scelerophobia.

Scelerophobia refers to the fear of crime or criminals and this involves paranoid thoughts of having something wicked or something criminal done to them such as being robbed, or mugged, or being held hostage in their homes etc. 

How do I stop worrying about being burgled?

In order for you to stop worrying about being burgled, one of the main steps you can take is to be prepared. 

Secure your home by taking sufficient preventative measures to ensure that you and your family are safe. 

This includes setting up security systems, outdoor floodlights, cameras with alarm systems and motion sensors, moving to a gated community with security services, as well as adopting a pet or a guard dog.

Taking defence classes to help you remain agile and ready in the case you need to defend yourself. 

Why am I so worried about someone breaking into my house?

If you are paranoid about someone breaking into your home, of being a victim of crime, or having to come face to face with a criminal inside of your home, it is possible that you have Scelerophobia.

What to do if someone breaks into your house while you are home?

If someone breaks into your house here are the steps you can take:

  • Move yourself, and your family to a safe room that allows you to exit the house- via a window or a balcony.
  • If you do not have this option, take your phone and go to the furthest room from the burglars. 
  • Call the police immediately after you have secured the door
  • Wait for the police to come, do not engage with the burglars.
  • If you have managed to get out of the house, go to your neighbours house and wait for the police. 

References

Scelerophobia. Phobia Wiki. Retrieved on 16th Feb 2022. https://phobia.fandom.com/wiki/Scelerophobia.

How to Deal with Scelerophobia (fear of burglars)?. Quilty. Retrieved on 16th Feb 2022. https://quilityblankets.com/blogs/news/how-to-deal-with-scelerophobia-fear-of-burglars

Olsen. Fear of Crime Phobia – Scelerophobia. Fear Of.Net. Retrieved on 16th Feb 2022. 2022.https://www.fearof.net/fear-of-crime-phobia-scelerophobia/

Scelerophobia (Fear of Bad Men or Burglars). Psychtimes. Retrieved on 16th Feb 2022. https://psychtimes.com/scelerophobia-fear-of-bad-men-or-burglars/

Holland.K. Intrusive Thoughts: Why We Have Them and How to Stop Them. Healthline. Retrieved on 16th Feb 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/intrusive-thoughts

Bilodeau. K. Managing intrusive thoughts. Harvard Health. Retrieved on 16th Feb 2022. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/managing-intrusive-thoughts

Coping With Intrusive Thoughts. Shondaland. Retrieved on 16th Feb 2022. https://www.shondaland.com/live/body/a35554352/coping-with-intrusive-thoughts/

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