As of 2018, Mental Health America reported that one in five American adults (roughly 40 million people) have a mental health condition. Although it has become more culturally acceptable to talk about anxiety disorders and depression, there are many mental health concerns that are still largely considered to be taboo. One such category is personality disorders. Despite the fact that personality disorders can appear in conjunction with anxiety and/or depression, proper discourse about the disorders is lacking. Whether you think that you, a family member, or a friend has an undiagnosed personality disorder, getting educated is the first step in moving forward.
Working toward prioritizing your mental health and helping those you love with their mental health concerns is essential for treatment and condition management. If you suspect that you or someone you know may have a personality disorder, learn more about the signs and symptoms.
What Is A Personality Disorder?
The Mayo Clinic defines a personality disorder as “a type of mental disorder in which you have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving.” While the signs and symptoms of each unique personality disorder vary significantly, they all tend to cause social problems, difficulties at work and school, and problems with family.
What Kinds Of Personality Disorders Exist?
Among the three main clusters (A, B, and C), there are 10 types of personality disorders. Each cluster has its own defining characteristics that are present in all disorders that belong to the given category. Outside of the common cluster characteristics, each individual personality disorder has specific symptoms that are unique.
What characteristics are found in each cluster? Cluster A personality disorders all share thought patterns that experts define as “odd” and “eccentric.” The hallmark of cluster B personality disorders is behavior that is unpredictable, attention-seeking, and occasionally harmful. Finally, cluster C personality disorders share the common themes of fear and anxiety.
Here is the full list of all 10 personality disorders and their corresponding clusters:
Cluster A Personality Disorders
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Schizoid personality disorder
- Schizotypal personality disorder
Cluster B Personality Disorders
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Histrionic personality disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
Cluster C Personality Disorders
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Dependent personality disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
What are the signs and symptoms of the various personality disorders?
Even within each of the three personality disorder clusters, the symptoms can vary greatly. The signs of a developing personality disorder often shows up in teens and adults. To explore more about each disorder, learn about the defining symptoms.
- Paranoid personality disorder: Individuals who are diagnosed with this condition exhibit a strong distrust of others. This distrust results from the belief that people are conspiring to cause them harm, tell lies, and hide secrets from the sufferer. To prevent perceived harm, those with the disorder do not often disclose personal information, and can become hostile and hold grudges if they believe that they have been wronged.
- Schizoid personality disorder: This cluster A personality disorder is defined primarily by the preference to be alone, and to avoid the development of relationships. In addition to having little to no desire to socialize, individuals with the condition have difficulties with expressing emotion, and as a result, can appear to have a lack of empathy and compassion toward others.
- Schizotypal personality disorder: Although schizotypal personality disorder sounds similar to schizoid personality disorder, and shares some defining characteristics, there are key differences between the two. In addition to social anxiety and showing a lack of emotion, those with schizotypal personality disorder have distinct patterns of thought. These individuals report hearing voices, the belief that they can control things with their mind, and that there are hidden messages in everyday occurrences.
- Antisocial personality disorder: As one of the more hostile personality disorders, people who have been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder can exhibit volatile, or even dangerous, behaviors. Theft, lying, impulsive actions, frequent legal problems, and violent behaviors are all common occurrences with this condition.
- Borderline personality disorder: Despite the similarities in risky and hostile behaviors present in both the antisocial and borderline personality disorders, borderline personality disorder is much more self-destructive. People with this condition often exhibit tendencies such as having a negative self-image, engaging in unsafe behaviors, having a fear of being alone, and the desire to harm one’s self.
- Histrionic personality disorder: Unlike the first two cluster B personality disorders, histrionic personality disorder does not involve dangerous or risky behaviors. Instead, this disorder is characterized by the excessive desire for attention. Those with the condition seek to gain attention and approval by acting bold, emotional, and dramatic in social situations. Additionally, individuals with histrionic personality disorder often have challenges with fitting in socially, as they often have incorrect perceptions of their current relationships.
- Narcissistic personality disorder: Those diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder have thoughts that are self-focused, and that revolve around attaining success and power. Rather than having doubts about their ability to achieve, people with this disorder hold the belief that they are supremely talented, deserving of praise, and that they are better than others.
- Avoidant personality disorder: The first of the three cluster C personality disorders is avoidant personality disorder. Those with the condition often avoid social situations due to feelings of inadequacy, sensitivity to criticism, and the constant fear of not being accepted by others. These individuals suffer from chronic low self-confidence, and can struggle with performance at school and work.
- Dependent personality disorder: People who experience dependent personality disorder have a fear of being left alone, or of having to take care of oneself. They often display excessively clingy and dependent behavior. In addition to low self-confidence, those with the disorder commonly have challenges disagreeing with opinions, put up with abusive behaviors from others, and do not feel capable of taking on challenges by themselves.
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: A diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is marked by intense perfectionism, inflexibility, and the need to control people and situations. Individuals with the disorder are often harsh with themselves and with others if mistakes (real or perceived) occur. These thoughts and behaviors make work and school especially challenging, since perfection cannot be achieved.
What is the treatment for a personality disorder?
Once diagnosed with one of the above personality disorders, mental health professionals can prescribe medications, suggest home remedies, and provide psychotherapy sessions. Extreme cases of a given personality disorder may require a period of hospitalization. Depending on the specific disorder and severity, treatments are tailored to help an individual effectively manage his or her condition.
If you suspect that you or a loved one has a personality disorder, it is crucial to get in touch with a professional as soon as possible. A combination of treatments can significantly improve the quality of one’s social, work, and personal life.