What is Personality Disorder?

Personality is a manner of thinking and behaving that makes each individual unique. Environmental and biological factors influence our personality. It matters what type of home we grew up in, where our family comes from, our socioeconomic background, the history of mental illness in our lineage. These are just some of the many components that piece together our personality. We are a sum of our experiences and the traits we inherited from our parents. Personality forms at a young age, while it might change slightly, generally it stays the same over time. Based on this, a personality disorder is deviant from the expected and accepted ways of thinking and behaving dictated by society and culture. It has negative consequences on the individual themselves and lasts for an extended period of time, so it is important to seek mental health treatment.

What Are the Types of Personality Disorders?

There are 10 individual types of personality disorders. Each one differs substantially from what is considered normal. This deviance is usually formed during late adolescence or early adulthood. If left untreated it will last for a very long time and cause pain to the individuals involved.

The parameters of personality disorders are that they impact two of the following fields:

  1. Way of responding emotionally
  2. Way of relating to other people
  3. Way of thinking about oneself and others
  4. Way of controlling one’s behavior

Antisocial Personality Disorder 

Characterized by a disregard for other people and lack of care for their rights, ideas, and values. Antisocial people tend to violate those around them and do not adhere to certain social codes. They tend to lie and deceive, act impulsively, be aggressive or get into physical fights, behave in a way that is unpleasant, and have no sense of guilt or remorse.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidants tend to exhibit shyness. They feel less than others and are always waiting to be criticized or judged for something. People with this disorder are extremely sensitive and try to avoid interactions with other individuals and situations. They feel lonely and alienated but still refrain from forming any kind of intimate friendship or relationship. 

Borderline Personality Disorder 

Perhaps the most widely known personality disorder is marked by extreme emotions, unstable personal relationships, impulsive behavior, and low self-regard. A person with a borderline personality disorder will take drastic measures to avoid being alone. Many are known to attempt suicide or express rage violently, all to cover up feelings of emptiness.

Dependent Personality Disorder 

Dependents rely on others to take care of them, often displaying thrifty attitudes and submissive behavior. They find it difficult to make decisions, function without other people and are terrified to be alone. This manifests into a needy and clingy personality.

Histrionic Personality Disorder 

People with histrionic personality disorder thrive off of being the center of attention. They are easily influenced by other people and are known for being overly dramatic. They feel the need to entertain everyone and will even flirt with other people to get momentary attention from them. Individuals like this are fully dependent on the approval of others.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder 

Narcissists think very highly of themselves. They love feeling different and special from other people and tend to lack empathy for others. They may have a sense of entitlement and take advantage of other people to get what they want.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 

OCD is marked by recurring thoughts and patterns of behavior that center around control, perfection, and order. A person with this disorder might be preoccupied with things like schedules and working since they are so task-oriented and goal obsessed. This type of person would probably make little time for friends and family.

Paranoid Personality Disorder 

Paranoid people are often waiting for something terrible to occur at any given moment. They find it challenging to have peace of mind and trust other people. This makes them wary of other individuals who they fear confiding in.

Schizoid Personality Disorder 

People with this disorder are typically detached from others. They show very little interest in forming relationships and view them as interferences in their daily lives. These types of people prefer to be alone with their thoughts, get little pleasure from intimacy, and can be emotionally cold sometimes. 

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Individuals with a schizotypal personality disorder may exhibit strange behavior and thought patterns that alienate other people. They struggle in close relationships with other people and act eccentrically in social situations.

Since our personalities are still being developed at a young age, personality disorders are typically not diagnosed until after the age of 18. A proper diagnosis requires the consent of a mental health professional. Some individuals can have multiple personality disorders, and approximately 9 percent of grown-ups in the United States have at least one personality disorder. Given these facts and the list above, figuring out which disorder or disorders you have is the first step in acknowledging there is a problem and that mental health treatment needs to be sought.

What Causes Personality Disorders?

There are a number of factors that contribute to the development of personality disorders. For a while, individuals with these illnesses were just seen as impulsive and reckless. But research has found that trauma, genetics, and the environment all play a pivotal role in these illnesses.

Genetics

There is a gene malfunction that is explicitly linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder. There is also a genetic basis for anxiety, depression, fear, and aggression, all of which are significant features in some personality disorders.

Trauma

Adverse childhood experiences can cause permanent changes to one’s personality and lead to disordered behaviors. Multiple studies have connected early sexual abuse with borderline personality disorder. Verbal abuse, when encountered in childhood and attached to poor treatment from loved ones, made individuals far more susceptible to paranoid, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive, and borderline paranoid personality disorders. 

Sensory Issues 

Young children who are highly sensitive to sound, texture, and light usually end up becoming shy and anxious adults who are easily overwhelmed by stimuli in their environments. 

What are the Treatments for Personality Disorders?

There are some forms of psychotherapy or “talk therapy” that are efficient when dealing with personality disorders. It allows individuals dealing with personality disorders to understand where their attitudes and behaviors come from. There is also the opportunity for them to express their emotions and talk through all that they are dealing with. Sometimes just knowing why you do something is an integral part of reversing those problematic elements of one’s personality. It allows for better coping mechanisms. 

Talk therapy can also be conducted in groups with other people who have similar illnesses or in family units. When an individual is struggling with a personality disorder, it affects the people who love them. Thus, a critical aspect of therapy has to be the healing of those broken relationships. Psychotherapy is the best type of mental health treatment since it can be catered to the specific illness and severity of it. 

Types of psychotherapy include the following: 

Psychoanalytic/psychodynamic therapy

Psychoeducation 

Dialectical behavior therapy

Group therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy.

Currently, there are no medications that are specifically purposed to treat personality disorders the way there are for mood disorders. There are products like anti-anxiety pills, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants that can address some of the symptoms that are unique to each of the ten different personality disorders. For example, anti-anxiety medication treats obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, while the mood stabilizers could benefit borderline personality disorder.

What is Dual-Diagnosis with Mental Health and Addiction?

Dual diagnosis is when a person suffers with both a substance abuse disorder, such as drug or alcohol addiction, and a mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression, at the same time. Oftentimes, a drug or alcohol addiction can lead to mental illnesses if it becomes such a deep-rooted issue that one’s brain chemistry is altered. Mental illnesses may lead to problems with addiction at a later time in their lives if they try to self-medicate or self-assess their mental struggles without professional aid. 

Many people with a co-occurring disorder develop the condition because they desire to feel accepted and wish to fit in with others surrounding them. It could start with just one drink to help with feelings such as social anxiety that turns into alcohol addiction long-term. The same could be true with just one hit of marijuana in an attempt to forget traumatic memories. While these may provide short-term relief, they are not resourceful long-term methods of treatment and often times will cause the person to be bear mental struggles even worse than they did before their addiction began.

Dual diagnosis is very prevalent in the United States. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2018, approximately 9.2 million adults experienced both at least one mental illness and a substance abuse disorder. Only 34.5% sought out mental health treatment while 3.9% got treatment for their addiction. Only 9.1% of these people addressed both their mental illness struggles and their substance abuse struggles. These statistics are minimal, and that’s why it is imperative to note that there is treatment for mental health disorders and addiction separately just as there are effective ways to treat both at the same time. Never give up hope for rehabilitation.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a personality disorder, please reach out to our team at 1st Steph Behavioral Health. You can reach us by dialing (866) 319-6126. You can also contact us here.