Your personality is the way you think, feel, and behave that makes you different from everyone else. A person’s personality is influenced by experiences, environment such as surroundings and life situations, and inherited characteristics that typically stays the same over time. A personality disorder is the way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that deviates from the expectations of their culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time. The pattern of behavior usually begins by late adolescence or early adulthood and can cause distress or problems in functioning. Personality disorders can be long-lasting if it continues without treatment. It can affect at least two of these areas:
- Way of thinking about oneself and others
- Way of responding emotionally
- Way of relating to others
- Way of controlling one’s behavior
There are 10 different types of personality disorders:
- Antisocial personality disorder: Patterns of disregarding or violating the rights of others. A person with this disorder may not conform to social norms and may repeatedly lie, deceive others, or act impulsively.
- Avoidant personality disorder: Patterns of extreme shyness, feelings of inadequacy and extreme sensitivity to criticism. Those with avoidant personality disorder may be unwilling to get involved with others unless they are certain of being liked, be preoccupied with being criticized or rejected, or view themselves as not being good enough or socially inept.
- Borderline personality disorder: Patterns of instability in personal relationships, intense emotions, poor self-image and impulsivity. Someone with borderline personality disorder may go to great lengths to avoid being abandoned, have repeated suicide attempts, display inappropriate intense anger, or have ongoing feelings of emptiness.
- Dependent personality disorder: Patterns of needing to be taken care of and have submissive and clingy behavior. Those with this disorder may have difficulty making daily decisions for themselves without reassurance from others. They may feel uncomfortable to helpless when alone out of fear of inability to take care of themselves.
- Histrionic personality disorder: Patterns of excessive emotion and attention seeking. They may feel uncomfortable when they are not the center of attention and may use physical appearance to draw attention to themselves or have rapidly shifting or exaggerated emotions.
- Narcissistic personality disorder: Patterns of a need for admiration and lack of empathy for others. They may have a grandiose sense of self-importance, a sense of entitlement, and/or take advantage of others.
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: What makes this different from obsessive compulsive disorder is the pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfection, and control. They may be overly focused on details or schedules, work excessively and not allowing time for leisure or friends, or inflexible in their morality and values.
- Paranoid personality disorder: Patterns of being suspicious of others and seeing them as mean or spiteful. They often assume people will harm or deceive them and do not confide in others or become close to them.
- Schizoid personality disorder: Patterns of being detached from social relationships and expressing little emotion. They typically do not seek close relationships, chose to be alone, and seem to not care about praise or criticism from others.
- Schizotypal personality disorder: Patterns of being very uncomfortable in close relationships, have distorted thinking and eccentric behavior. They may have odd beliefs, peculiar behavior or speech, and may have excessive social anxiety.
A mental health professional must look at long-term patterns of functioning and symptoms for someone to be diagnosed with a personality disorder. They are typically made in people aged 18 or older because those under 18 are still developing personalities. Some people may not realize a problem with their behaviors or patterns and some people may have more than one personality disorder.
There are some types of psychotherapy that are effective for treating personality disorders. During psychotherapy, people can gain insight and knowledge about their disorder and what may be contributing to their symptoms. They can also talk about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It can help them understand the effects of their behavior on others and learn to manage or cope with symptoms and reduce behaviors causing problems with functioning and relationships. Types of treatment will depend on their specific personality disorder, how severe it is, and the circumstances.
Here are some commonly used types of psychotherapy:
- Psychoanalytic/psychodynamic therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Cognitive behavior therapy
- Group therapy
- psychoeducation (teaching the individual and their families about the illness, treatments, and ways of coping)
No specific medications can treat personality disorders, but medications such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety, or mood stabilizing medications can be helpful in treating some of their symptoms. The more severe or long lasting symptoms may require a team approach that may involve a primary care doctor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker, and family members. The individual with the disorder can also do some self-care and coping strategies that may help, such as:
- Learn about their condition to help empower and motivate them.
- Be active and exercise to help manage some symptoms like depression, stress, and anxiety.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol while taking mental health medications. They can have adverse affects when interacting with medications.
- Have routine medical care from their family doctor.
- Join a support group for people with personality disorders.
- Write in a journal to express their emotions
- Try relaxation and stress management techniques like yoga or meditation.
- Stay connected with family and friend. They should avoid isolating themselves. Family will be a very big support base for them.
- If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Call 911 or the local emergency number.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
- Trevor Project Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 to speak with a crisis counselor
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