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What Is A Personality Disorder?

What Is A Personality Disorder? Treatment Options

Personality disorders are conditions where there is a deviation from the typical ways in which people think, feel, and react to others and their environment. These difficulties can significantly impact one’s happiness, relationships, work performance, and other areas of life. In this article, you will learn more about personality disorders, their occurrence, and how they can be effectively treated. Let’s get started!

What Is A Personality Disorder?
A personality disorder is a long-term pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving that causes distress and problems in relationships and other areas of life. They are different from transient feelings like sadness, fear, or anger, which most people experience at some point in their lives. While people with personality disorders tend to be aware that their way of thinking, feeling, and behaving is different from others, they are often unable or unwilling to change the way they view themselves in terms of others. This lack of insight and unwillingness to change are hallmarks of personality disorders and are what distinguish them from other mental health problems.
What Is Not A Personality Disorder?

To clarify, not all types of personalities are a personality disorder. People with a more quirky or non-mainstream personality should not automatically be deemed to have a disorder, nor should those whose behaviors be considered socially inappropriate. People with mental health conditions are often wrongly diagnosed with a personality disorder because the behavior resembles one of the personality disorders, i.e., borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder. There is also the tendency to confuse mood disorders, i.e., depression, anxiety disorders, & bipolar disorder, with a personality disorder. It is important to note that people with these conditions may also experience personality traits consistent with personality disorders. It is important to get a diagnosis specific to the other conditions and get treatment to address those first.

Types of Personality Disorders

There are two types of personality disorders: Cluster A and Cluster B. Within these types are ten specific disorders. Cluster A disorders are characterized by a lack of interest or engagement in life and a sense of isolation and withdrawal. Cluster B Disorders are marked by excessive emotionality and the need for attention and admiration.

  • Cluster A Disorders Paranoid Personality Disorder – A pattern of distrust and suspiciousness
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder – Disinterest in connecting with others and a tendency to shut oneself off from others
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder – A pattern of extreme social anxiety, suspiciousness, and oddities in thinking and behavior
  • Cluster B Disorders Antisocial Personality Disorder – A pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others
  • Borderline Personality Disorder – An unstable pattern of intense and unstable relationships and moods
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder – An excessive need for attention
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder – An inflated sense of importance and a lack of empathy
  • Avoidant Personality Disorder – A pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and extreme sensitivity to negative evaluation
  • Dependent Personality Disorder – An excessive need to be taken care of
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder – A pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control

 

Risk Factors for Developing a Personality Disorder

Many different factors may contribute to the development of a Personality Disorder.

 

  • Genetics – Some people may inherit a genetic predisposition to certain disorders that may lead to a personality disorder.
  • Biology – Some people may have brain abnormalities that may lead to personality disorders.
  • Environment – how you were raised and your experiences when growing up may also lead you to develop a personality disorder.
  • Life Experiences – traumatic events, abuse, or neglect may also lead to the development of a personality disorder.
Diagnosing a Personality Disorder

Before you are diagnosed with a personality disorder, you will likely meet with a mental health professional who will do an assessment and talk to you about your symptoms. The mental health professional will use a diagnostic tool such as the DSM-5 to diagnose you with a Personality Disorder. 

How Long Does It Take To Diagnose A Personality Disorder?

Since Personality Disorders are long-term conditions, you will likely have an assessment done over time. The amount of time it takes to diagnose a Personality Disorder depends on the person and the severity of their symptoms.

Do You Have To Be At Risk For A Mental Disorder To Get Treatment?

No, you do not have to be at risk for a mental disorder to get treatment. You can get treatment even if you don’t have symptoms or a diagnosis yet. This kind of treatment is called preventive or early intervention. Early intervention can help you develop skills and strategies to reduce your mental disorder risk.

Treating Personality Disorder: Psychotherapy and Medications
  • Psychotherapy: Many types of psychotherapy are used to treat personality disorders, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, and Psychodynamic Therapy. These types of therapy can help you identify new ways of thinking and behaving, providing you with valuable insight and psychological tools to improve your life.

 

  • Medications: Some people with personality disorders will also benefit from medication. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used to treat people with Personality Disorders.

Summary

A personality disorder is a long-term pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving that causes distress and problems in relationships and other areas of life. Different types of personality disorders are diagnosed through a process that includes an assessment of your symptoms and history. To be diagnosed with a personality disorder, you must have symptoms that have lasted at least two years, show no sign of improvement, and cause significant problems in your life. There are many types of personality disorders, each with its own set of symptoms. People with personality disorders often experience other mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders. While personality disorders cannot be cured, they can be treated and managed with therapy and medication.

If you are feeling any of these symptoms then it is time to get some help!!