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Understanding Personality Disorders

Personality is more than being friendly or having a good sense of humor. It’s the way a person thinks about and relates to the world. A personality disorder can make it hard for a person to relate to others in healthy ways. But there is hope. A doctor or mental health professional can help.

What are the symptoms of a personality disorder?

People with personality disorders have a hard time forming normal relationships. They often have trouble with school or work. And they may often feel depressed, sad, and alone. There are many types of personality disorders. Each has specific symptoms. But all greatly disrupt the life of the affected person and those around him or her.

What causes personality disorders?

No one knows what causes these disorders. They are sometimes triggered by childhood abuse or neglect. Research with twins suggests this illness may have hereditary (genetic) links. It is also 5 times more common among people who have a close relative with the disorder. They also may occur when certain brain chemicals are out of balance. Most likely, both genetics and a person’s environment and experiences play a role.

What can be done?

Certain types of therapy can help treat these disorders. Medicines may help relieve symptoms. Talk therapy and medicines work best when used together. Many people with this disorder don’t realize or admit that they need help. And it may take a while before treatment begins to work. But most people who get good treatment live a healthier, happier life.

Types of personality disorders

  • Antisocial personality disorder. People with this disorder have little concern for others. They may lie to, bully, or even harm others without feeling sorry.

  • Avoidant personality. A person with this condition avoids social activities due to fears of being criticized or rejected.

  • Borderline personality disorder. People with this disorder have a strong fear of being alone. Yet they push others away. They may have wide mood swings and change their values and beliefs often.

  • Dependent personality disorder. This causes a strong need to be cared for by others.

  • Histrionic personality disorder. An affected person will do almost anything to be the center of attention.

  • Narcissistic personality disorder. This person exaggerates achievements and talents. He or she needs recognition and admiration.

  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). People with OCPD have a very strong need for order, perfection, and control. This often causes them great distress.

  • Paranoid personality disorder. People with this disorder constantly doubt the trustworthiness of friends, family, and others, for no reason. They generally distrust and are suspicious of other people. They often believe that people want to harm them.

  • Schizoid personality disorder. This person avoids close relationships, including being a part of a family. He or she prefers to be alone and shows little emotion.

  • Schizotypal personality disorder. An affected person feels very anxious in social settings. The person often has distorted views. He or she may often behave in socially unacceptable ways.

Online Medical Reviewer: Ballas, Paul, DO
Online Medical Reviewer: Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2017
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