Defining Personality Disorders

These are some of the most intricate and often misunderstood mental health conditions today. Contrary to popular opinion, the term personality disorder does not refer to an unpleasant personality. Rather, it refers to a complex combination of difficult symptoms that make daily life difficult.

These disorders encompass several mental illnesses that make it difficult for one to relate properly to those around them. They impair one’s response to the people, situations, and the world they experience. People suffering from these disorders have poor mental health, relationships, and overall well-being.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) defines a personality disorder as a mental health condition that significantly impairs self-function and relationships with others. It also occurs alongside one or more changes in personality, e.g., detachment, negative affectivity, or antagonism.

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There are several types of personality disorders, each with a different impact on a person’s life. However, most disorders share a common set of symptoms. Additionally, personality disorders may occur alongside other mental health conditions, such as depression. The common symptoms of these disorders include:

  • Mood swings;
  • Avoidance of social interaction;
  • Random outbursts of anger;
  • Paranoia;
  • Impulsiveness;
  • Addiction;
  • Inability to form and/or sustain relationships.

Types of Personality Disorders

The current manual of mental disorders contains 10 personality disorders. They are grouped into clusters based on their unique symptoms. The three clusters are listed below.

Cluster A – Odd or Eccentric Disorders

These disorders share similar symptoms. People who suffer from them display odd behaviors and have irrational fears of social relations. This category contains the three disorders listed below:

  1. Paranoid Personality Disorder – unfounded suspicions and lack of trust in others;
  2. Schizoid Personality Disorder – lack of interest in social interaction;
  3. Schizotypical Personality Disorder –odd behavior and thoughts.

Cluster B – Dramatic, Emotional, or Erratic Disorders

These personality disorders have a unique emotional aspect. People suffering from them display dramatic and erratic emotions.

  1. Antisocial Personality Disorder – repeated criminal activity and absence of empathy;
  2. Narcissistic Personality Disorder – exaggerated behavior, high levels of arrogance, and jealousy;
  3. Borderline Personality Disorder – polar thinking, propensity for self-harm, and impulsiveness;
  4. Histrionic Personality Disorder – amplified seductive behavior and dramatic emotional displays

Cluster C – Anxious or Fearful Disorders

People with these types of disorders often feel socially awkward and fear interacting with others. They are obsessed with order and conformity to the point where their relationships are affected.

  1. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder – obsession with rules, moral codes, and order;
  2. Avoidant Personality Disorder – fear of social inadequacy that extends to one’s inability to interact in social settings;
  3. Dependent Personality Disorder – being overly dependent on others for psychological well-being.

It is worth noting that OCPD is very different from OCD. While the former is a personality disorder, the latter is an anxiety disorder. The two have different symptoms.

Treatment for Personality Disorders

Several medical and mental health experts collaborate to treat an individual who has a personality disorder. The effective treatment strategy for such a patient typically involves a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and primary care physician. Because of this teamwork, the patient receives well-rounded care. All physical and psychotherapy needs are taken care of.

Therapy for personality disorder varies according to the patient’s specific needs. Typically, psychotherapists combine dialectical behavioral therapy with cognitive-based methods to get the desired result. A combination of methods is usually more effective than a single therapy strategy.

Treatment of personality disorders may start with medication. Although there are no specific drugs that treat the disorders, some offer relief from the symptoms. Usually, antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and mood stabilizers are prescribed to manage the issue.

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Talk therapy is the most common method of treatment for individuals suffering from personality disorders. Based on the outcome of sessions, a clinical diagnosis is made, and a treatment strategy is established.

Hospitalization for personality disorders is not uncommon. It is necessitated by the suicidal ideation and self-harming behaviors that are displayed by individuals with the disorders.

Benefits of Hiring a Therapist to Deal with Personality Disorders

Personality disorders hurt one’s lifestyle. They always cause many problems, including the inability to form and sustain friendships, jobs, and careers. In some cases, they impair decision making and risk the individual’s life.

Because personality disorders can lead to paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations, seeking professional help is necessary. It is impossible to control such symptoms without the guidance of a licensed therapist. Unfortunately, research shows that people suffering from personality disorders often overlook the need for mental health support.

When people who suffer from these disorders seek professional support, they do so for the symptoms rather than the underlying conditions. They do not associate how they feel to a personality disorder, so they seek treatment for symptoms such as addiction and lack of impulse control. Unless there is potential for self-harm or suicide, friends and family cannot force them to seek therapy.

If you suspect that someone you know has a personality disorder because they display the symptoms listed in this article, do not hesitate to hire a professional who can diagnose it. Search our online directory to find a suitable therapist who has experience in dealing with personality disorders. Such a professional will help you develop a treatment plan in collaboration with other mental health professionals.

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