Your personality is the particular way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that makes you different from everyone else. It develops as a result of your life experiences and your inherited characteristics. A personality disorder is a way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that causes distress or problems in functioning and in relationships and is long-lasting. A diagnosis of one or more of the 10 known personality disorders can only be made at age 18 and older. Psychotherapy and group therapy are the primary ways of treating these disorders, leading to insights and behavioural changes that change patterns of dysfunction. Medications such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or mood-stabilizing medications may help treat some symptoms.
What Are the Types of Personality Disorders?
There are three clusters of personality disorders, each with its own unique set of symptoms.
- Cluster A: paranoid, schizotypal, and schizoid personality disorders. People with these disorders tend to have odd or eccentric ways of thinking and behaving. They may be suspicious or paranoid and have difficulty in social situations.
- Cluster B: antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders. People with these disorders tend to be impulsive and have difficulty controlling their emotions. They may also be manipulative or have a need for attention and approval.
- Cluster C: avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders. People with these disorders tend to be anxious and have difficulty in social situations. They may also be overly perfectionistic or have a need for control.
What Causes Personality Disorders? 2
No one knows for sure what causes personality disorders, but it’s thought that a mix of genetic and environmental factors like:
- Family history: if you have a parent or close relative with a personality disorder, you’re more likely to develop one yourself.
- Childhood environment: if you had a difficult or stressful childhood, you may be more likely to develop a personality disorder.
- Brain structure and function: Certain changes in the brain have been linked to personality disorders.
Most of the time, personality disorders are found in teens or young adults, but they can happen at any age.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Personality Disorders?
The signs and symptoms of personality disorders vary depending on the type of disorder. But in general, people with personality disorders have trouble functioning in social situations and relationships. They may also have a skewed view of themselves and others. They may also act on impulse or have trouble keeping their feelings in check.
Some of the specific signs and symptoms include:
- Suspicion and mistrust of others; a sense that others are out to get you; obsession with conspiracies
- Schizotypal personality disorder – odd or eccentric ways of thinking and behaving; unusual beliefs or superstitions; seeing or hearing things that others don’t.
- Schizoid personality disorder: lack of interest in social relationships; feeling detached from and indifferent to others; a restricted range of emotions.
- An antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a disregard for and violation of the rights of others, as well as impulsivity, aggression, and deception. Borderline personality disorder: unstable emotions, intense and volatile relationships, impulsivity, self-harm
- A histrionic personality disorder is characterized by overly emotional and attention-seeking behaviour, as well as dramatic and theatrical behaviour and overly emotional expressions.
- Narcissistic personality disorder: grandiose sense of self-importance, need for admiration, lack of empathy for others.
- Avoidant personality disorder: social isolation, feelings of inadequacy, hypersensitivity to criticism or rejection.
- A dependent personality disorder is when you need other people to care for and support you too much, have a fear of being alone, and act in a submissive and clingy way.
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder – preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control, inflexible and stubborn behaviour.
What Are the Complications of Personality Disorders?
Personality disorders can lead to problems with work, school, and relationships. People with personality disorders may have difficulty keeping a job or may be constantly changing jobs. They may also have problems in their personal relationships, such as frequent arguments or breakups.
People with personality disorders may also have other mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression. And they may abuse alcohol or drugs. Personality disorders can also make it difficult to cope with stress, and people with these disorders may be at an increased risk of suicide.
Treatment for Personality Disorders
If you have a personality disorder, treatment can help. Treatment may include medication, psychotherapy, or both.
Medication can be used to treat underlying mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression. Psychotherapy can help you understand and change the behaviours and thoughts that contribute to your disorder.
Freeman House Recovery is a top residential treatment centre for people with personality disorders. It is in the peaceful area of Hartbeespoort in Gauteng, South Africa.
At Freeman House, we firmly believe in the integration of traditional and contemporary therapies in order to provide our patients with the best possible chance at long-term recovery. This is evident in our comprehensive treatment offerings, which include individual and group therapy, family interventions, cognitive behavioural therapy, and much more.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a personality disorder, we urge you to reach out for help today. Contact us to learn more about our treatment programmes and how we can help you or your loved one start on the road to recovery.