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Personality Disorders: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatments

Personality disorders are more common than you think. Over 9% of American adults have one or more of the ten personality disorder types. The media often portrays personality disorders as scary or “evil”. The truth is that regular people can have personality disorders.

If you or someone you know struggles with a personality disorder, the first step is diagnosis. Proper diagnosis leads to the correct method of treatment. Personality disorder treatment can help reduce distress and manage symptoms.

What is a Personality Disorder?

A personality disorder involves unusual thoughts, emotions, and behavior patterns. These should be severe enough to impact daily life, work, and relationships.

People with personality disorders usually have trouble properly expressing their emotions. Their emotions may be too intense or they may be completely lacking in feeling. They are often described as “cold” because they don’t show joy or excitement.

Trouble interacting with others is also a common characteristic. Social situations can become stressful environments very quickly. They may miss social cues, misunderstand the tone, or share inappropriate information.

The prevalence of these disorders varies by country. In the U.S, the most common personality disorders are obsessive-compulsive and borderline.

Types of Personality Disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-5) is a tool used for diagnosis. It groups personality disorders into three clusters. Each cluster contains several disorders that include common problems expressed in different ways.

Cluster A: Eccentric

Individuals in this cluster usually have issues with social activities and distorted thinking. People may refer to them as eccentric or odd. They may be socially ostracized or teased for their beliefs.

Paranoid Personality Disorder can present a sense of paranoia, distrust, and hostility. People with this disorder often feel:

Schizoid Personality Disorder centers around feelings of social isolation. An individual with this disorder often:

Schizotypal Personality Disorder also deals with social issues. Unlike the previous disorder, it deals with abnormal social interactions. People with this disorder can have:

Cluster B: Erratic

This cluster includes impulsivity and emotional regulation issues. People in this cluster can be seen as dramatic or attention-seeking. They also often flip between extreme inflexibility and unexpected change.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) features very unstable emotional regulation. Self-soothing activities that can be very harmful often develop, like drug abuse. People with this disorder:

Narcissistic Personality Disorder includes feelings of excessive confidence and self-worth. Individuals with this disorder can feel:

Histrionic Personality Disorder centers around attention-seeking and high emotions. People with this disorder often:

Antisocial Personality Disorder features a total disregard for people or property. Two key traits are hostility and aggression. Individuals with this disorder often:

Cluster C: Anxious

An abnormally high level of anxiety is the defining characteristic of this cluster. People belonging to this cluster are sometimes called timid or submissive.

Dependent Personality Disorder consists of extreme emotional attachment. People with this disorder are often:

Avoidant Personality Disorder features a high degree of social anxiety and low self-confidence. Individuals with this disorder often:

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is the need for extreme order. People with this disorder often:

Causes of Personality Disorders

The cause of personality disorders is not yet completely defined. Researchers believe that it may be a combination of genetics and the environment.

Genetics is a possible cause of personality disorders. Researchers have found that the risk of genetic inheritance is about 50%.

Scientists are also studying the connection between common symptoms of personality disorders. Factors like aggression, impulsivity, and emotions may be affected by your genes.

Your environment, especially in childhood, can raise the risk of personality disorders. For example, trauma experienced as a child, like sexual abuse, can later manifest as BPD.

Childhood verbal abuse and neglect also have a negative impact. Children who suffered verbal abuse are three times more likely to develop BPD.

Diagnosing a Personality Disorder

Proper diagnosis by a trained professional is crucial. The ten personality disorder types have a lot of overlap. Self-diagnosis should never be the answer.

Personality Disorders are usually underdiagnosed. Individuals rarely walk into a psychologist’s office and announce they have BPD. Instead, patients usually complain about other symptoms and co-occurring disorders. Anxiety, depression, and sleep problems are common complaints.

The clinician must consider the patient’s health history and description of symptoms. Studying the individual’s actions, emotions, and speech patterns can also be helpful.

Sometimes, psychological testing is used to help determine a diagnosis. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2) is a self-assessment tool. Another option is the Rorschach Inkblot test, which tests emotional response.

Teens under 18 years old are not usually diagnosed with personality disorders. The personality is still in development at such a young age, so the diagnosis may not be accurate.

Personality Disorder Treatment

Personality disorder treatments vary depending on the specific diagnosis. Most of the treatment plans include a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Holistic approaches like art therapy and yoga can also be helpful.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is often the main component of the treatment plan. The first goal is to help individuals realize that their issues are often internal. People with personality disorders are often in denial about their role in the disorder.

The second goal of psychotherapy is to diminish harmful behavior. Many behaviors associated with personality disorders are dangerous to self and others. Heavy drinking, drug use, overspending, and risky actions need to be eliminated.

Finally, positive coping mechanisms and self-help methods are introduced. These are crucial in managing the disorder throughout an individual’s life.

Medication

Personality disorders can be tricky to treat with medication. Studies have found that they are usually not very responsive to medication. Still, medication can be a helpful tool in managing specific symptoms.

Anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders are common in people with personality disorders. Medications like anti-anxiety and anti-depressants can help reduce these symptoms. With reduced symptoms, an individual can focus on dealing with their main issue.

Holistic Methods

Holistic approaches are not treatments for disorders but can reduce some symptoms. For example, equine therapy can help individuals create bonds. Meanwhile, art therapy is a healthy tool for encouraging emotional expression.

Yoga and meditation are powerful methods for relaxation, introspection, and spiritual connection. Treating the symptoms of the disorders while creating positive changes can be beneficial.

Importance of a Dual Diagnosis Treatment

It’s important to note that an individual can have more than one personality disorder. Additionally, personality disorders have a higher rate of co-morbidity with substance dependence. Recent data shows that 22.6% of people with a personality disorder also have a substance use disorder.

A dual diagnosis aims to treat both. The physical symptoms of addiction are handled safely. At the same time, the psychological symptoms are treated. A dual diagnosis can be critical in breaking the cycle of addiction due to a mental health disorder.

There is usually little success in treating one while ignoring the other. Studies have found that patients with substance use disorders often relapsed. At the same time, their treated mental health disorders worsened.

Finding the Best Treatment Center

Admitting that you have a personality disorder is never easy. The first step is seeking a proper diagnosis. Once you have that, you can focus on getting the best personality disorder treatment.

Finding a safe, motivating environment for treatment doesn’t have to be stressful. Take a video tour of our facilities and programs to see what we offer.

At New Method Wellness you will receive the highest caliber of care from our compassionate team of clinicians and counselors.

Our top-rated dual-diagnosis treatment center is dually accredited by The Joint Commission and CARF International, which demonstrates our commitment to ethical excellence and supreme quality. If you are seeking help on behalf of a loved one, please contact us and allow us to help you guide your loved ones to treatment.

To schedule a tour at one of our residential facilities, call 866-951-1824 today!

To see why Dr. Phil recommends New Method Wellness, click here!

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