A personality disorder is a condition that causes maladaptive disturbances in an individual's thought processes, emotional processing, and behaviors. These conditions have specific diagnostic criteria. However, individuals with personality disorders can have very different symptom presentations, backgrounds, relationships, goals, and individual experiences.
Thankfully, patients have a variety of options for personality disorder treatment. Patients often require medication for personality disorders, such as mood stabilizers. Psychotherapy for personality disorders is another common treatment. However, the best treatment for personality disorder depends on the type that a patient has. This is why individuals need to understand the major types of personality disorders now.
Paranoid Personality Disorder
Paranoid personality disorder is characterized by paranoia and intense mistrust of others. These feelings apply even when there is no reason for them. This is the essential characteristic of the disorder. Most patients begin to show symptoms during their childhood or early teen years. In addition, men seem to develop it more often than women.
This condition does not have an exact known cause. However, researchers believe it involves a combination of psychological and biological factors. There may be a genetic link to it as well. The reason for this is that individuals are more likely to develop this condition if they have a family member with a delusional disorder. In addition, early childhood experiences like emotional and physical trauma can influence the development of this disorder. Patients with paranoid personality disorder tend to be very guarded. They believe others are trying to demean or harm or threaten them.
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Antisocial Personality Disorder
Antisocial personality disorder is a difficult one to treat. It occurs when an individual develops long-term patterns of violating the rights of others, manipulating individuals, or exploiting others without feeling remorse. Patients often have problems in their work and familial relationships. The cause is unknown. However, genetics and early childhood experiences may play a role. Individuals with an alcoholic or antisocial parent seem to have a higher risk of developing this condition. In addition, men are more likely to develop this condition than women. Animal cruelty and arson in childhood are often signs of a developing antisocial personality.
Some researchers believe this condition and psychopathy are the same. Individuals with antisocial personality disorder may be charming, witty, and good at flattery. They may also show little regard for the law, their own safety, the safety of others, and the autonomy of others. They may lie and get into fights often. Patients with this condition do not feel or show remorse or guilt for their actions.
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Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder occurs when an individual has extreme difficulties regulating their emotions. Patients with this condition experience heightened and intense emotions. These emotions may last for longer than with a neurotypical individual. After an event causes an emotional trigger, it is difficult for an individual with this disorder to go back to their baseline. The difficulty with emotional regulation is often accompanied by poor impulse control, a lack of self-confidence, and intense emotional responses to stress. Turbulent relationships are common too. Patients are also at a higher risk of turning to self-harming behaviors to help with self-regulation.
Nearly three out of every four individuals who have borderline personality disorder are women. However, some research indicates men may develop it with the same frequency as women. The difference is that they may be misdiagnosed with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Patients with this condition often have mood swings and may feel unstable and insecure. They may lash out in relationships or engage in efforts to avoid imaginary abandonment by family members and friends.
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Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic personality disorder occurs when an individual needs constant attention or validation but cannot handle criticism. It is a complex condition to treat because the patient needs to recognize and learn how to accept criticism first. Individuals with this condition experience intense anxiety and fear of being rejected, which often makes them miserable. They have an inflated sense of self-importance that helps them avoid fears and insecurities. They need others to validate this image, which is what leads to patterns of dysfunctional behavior.
Narcissistic personality disorder patients have an excessive need to be admired and display a lack of consideration and empathy for others. They will also have self-centered and arrogant thought patterns. This sense of self affects all aspects of the individual's life, from work to home to school. Even when the behavior causes problems, those with this disorder tend to be resistant to changing it. They also tend to react poorly to even small criticisms, as these feel like personal attacks.
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Avoidant Personality Disorder
Avoidant personality disorder is an anxious personality disorder. Patients with it are more likely to be receptive to treatment than with some other personality disorders. The reason is that this condition causes significant distress. The majority of patients with avoidant personality disorder want to form healthy relationships. However, they are too afraid of rejection to sustain them.
Someone with this disorder has low self-esteem and is intensely fearful of the negative judgment of others. The feelings of fear and inadequacy lead to discomfort in social situations. Many individuals who have this disorder are so socially anxious that they avoid social contact and group activities wherever they can. Most cases of this condition begin in infancy or childhood. However, it does not tend to be diagnosed in patients who have not turned eighteen years old yet. Some patients with avoidant personality disorder may have developed it due to caregiver negligence or rejection in childhood.
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Histrionic Personality Disorder
Histrionic personality disorder is a dramatic one. Patients have unstable and intense emotions, as well as a distorted self-image. In addition, their self-esteem is dependent on the approval of other individuals around them. Affected individuals will deal with an overwhelming need to be noticed. Unfortunately, this often means they will exhibit inappropriate or dramatic behavior to make that happen. Patients usually have great social skills. However, they will use them as a form of manipulation to be the center of attention. Other symptoms include rapid emotional shifts, excessive sensitivity to criticism or approval, and intense concern about their physical appearance. Patients will also have difficulties maintaining relationships.
The cause of this personality disorder is unknown. However, researchers believe that inherited and learned factors are involved. Information indicates that women are more likely to have this disorder than men. This condition is also typically clear by an individual's adolescence or early adulthood. Psychotherapy is the most common treatment for this condition.
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Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is one that involves an extreme need for neatness and order. Patients deal with extreme perfectionism. They will often feel an intense desire to impose their incredibly high standards on their surrounding environment. Patients often find it challenging to express how they feel and have trouble maintaining close relationships. They will often experience social isolation and anxiety that appears with depression.
These patients will typically feel angry, indignant, and righteous about their need for perfection. This is what differentiates obsessive-compulsive personality disorder from OCD, though patients will display OCD symptoms. Those with the personality disorder do not believe there is anything wrong with their behavior or thinking. In other words, they think they are right, and everyone else is wrong. The precise cause is not known. However, many believe genetics and childhood experiences are significant factors.
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Schizoid Personality Disorder
Schizoid personality disorder is not a common condition. It involves patients avoiding social activities and exhibiting limited emotional expressions. Symptoms include a preference for being alone, not wanting close relationships, and appearing emotionally cold. The lack of displayed emotion often makes it seem as if patients do not care about others. Symptoms appear by early adulthood. However, they can appear in an individual's childhood as well. Patients can struggle at school and work, unless they work alone.
Research indicates that genetics and environmental factors are significant in the development of this condition. However, the cause itself is unclear. One risk factor, though, is an individual having a neglectful or cold parent during their childhood. Another risk factor is having a parent with this condition, schizophrenia, or schizotypal personality disorder.
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Dependent Personality Disorder
Dependent personality disorder is an extremely anxious one. Patients with this condition exhibit an inability to be left alone. If they are alone, they will display significant anxiety, distress, panic attacks, and hopelessness. Other symptoms include an intense fear of rejection, increased sensitivity to criticism, and a fear of being abandoned. Patients will also display a significant reliance on others for decisions, need for constant reassurance, and submissive behavior.
The cause of dependent personality disorder, unfortunately, is unclear. However, many experts claim that developmental and biological factors are involved. Some risk factors for its development include having overprotective parents, neglectful parents, and abusive relationships. A family history of anxiety disorders can increase the risk of an individual developing it as well. Patients benefit from psychotherapy as a short-term treatment. It must be short-term. Otherwise, there is a risk of the patient becoming dependent on their therapist. Medication may also help. However, it is a last-resort treatment.
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Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Schizotypal personality disorder is on the spectrum that includes schizophrenia. However, patients with this condition do not typically experience psychosis. Instead, this personality disorder involves paranoia, derealization, eccentricity, and a lack of close personal relationships. Symptoms include excessive social anxiety, flat emotions, lacking close friends outside immediate family, and suspicious thoughts and doubts about others and their loyalty. Patients often display peculiar mannerisms, thinking, or beliefs, and may believe in special powers as well. They may dress in a strange way and speak in vague or unusual ways.
Unfortunately, the cause of this condition is not known. However, many professionals believe that genetics, environmental factors, and learned behaviors are all significant factors in its development. Another factor is shifts in how an individual's brain functions. Individuals are also at a greater risk of this condition if they have relatives with schizophrenia or a similar disorder. This condition has many potential complications, including depression, anxiety, and the development of schizophrenia. Treatment often includes therapy. Patients may also receive medication to relieve some symptoms.