A personality disorder is a mental disorder which is characterised by a rooted pattern of thinking, behaving and functioning, which is very different from the average person. An individual who has a personality disorder will typically have problems relating to, and interpreting certain people or situations. This can lead to issues and limitations in elements of life such as relationships, work, school and social activities.
What is a personality disorder?
Personality disorders can arise in adolescence or early adulthood. Because a person's way of thinking is natural to them, they may not realise that they have a personality disorder.
The are several specific personality disorders. Some experts place personality disorders into 'clusters'. The clusters include; Cluster A personality disorders, which are characterised by eccentric thinking or behaviour; Cluster B personality disorders, which are characterised by being overly emotional or unpredictable; and Cluster C personality disorders, which can be related to fearful or anxious behaviour.
In clinical practice, some personality disorders are encountered more frequently than others. This may not simply be about how common each disorder is. Some personality disorders are just more likely to reach the attention of health professionals.
One of the most common personality disorders is emotionally unstable personality disorder, which is also called borderline personality disorder. People with emotionally unstable personality disorder (which is sometimes shortened to EUPD) may be misdiagnosed with anxiety and depression when the symptoms first develop. This is because one of the core symptoms of EUPD is having an unstable mood. Other symptoms include impulsive behaviour, outburst of emotion, problems controlling behavioural outbursts, a tendency to argue or quarrel with others, disturbances in self-image, feelings of emptiness, unstable interpersonal relationships, a fear of being abandoned and a tendency to self-destructive behaviour including self-harm and suicide attempts.
Other examples of personality disorders include paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, dissocial (or antisocial personality disorder), histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
The symptoms which present themselves as a result of personality disorder will determine how a disorder is classed.
Causes of personality disorder
An individual's personality is a combination of emotions, thoughts and behaviours which makes them unique. This can determine the way you see yourself, as well as relate externally to people and things. It is understood that personality traits can be influenced by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Your environment, including your surroundings when growing up, relationships, and events which happened, can affect your personality. And some personality traits can be passed on to you by your parents genetically.
Some factors might increase the risk of developing a personality disorder, including; an abusive or chaotic family life when growing up; a family history of mental illness; brain structure variations; and already having been diagnosed with childhood conduct disorder.
Diagnosing personality disorder
If your doctor thinks that you have a personality disorder, you might need to be referred to see a psychiatrist who will carry out an assessment including a discussion about your behaviour, thoughts and feelings. With your permission, it may be necessary to ask family members for information. Sometimes it is necessary to use diagnostic scales to make a diagnosis of personality disorder. including
Treatment of ADHD
The type of treatment which is provided for a personality disorder will typically pertain to the nature of the specific disorder and its severity.
Often, help from a mental health professional is required. Therapies will typically include psychotherapy, which allows you to learn about your condition and talk about your feelings, moods, and behaviour, teaching you how to cope with, and manage your disorder. Specific types of talking therapies for personality disorder include dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) and mentalisation based therapy (MBT).
Family therapy - for the families of a person with a personality disorder - can provide valuable support and education.
Among the types of medications which may be prescribed for those with personality disorders are; antidepressants, mood stabilisers, antipsychotic medications, and antianxiety medications.