Signs of Personality Disorder

A personality disorder is a mental health condition that can have a profound effect on the life of an individual, and not in a positive way. About 9.1 percent of the population over the age of 18 in the United States has a diagnosable personality disorder. This is a mental health condition that can be difficult to detect, simply because there are so many different types of personality disorders which all have their own signs and symptoms. In general, individuals with personality disorders act out of character in a way that is not reflective of their normal personality or actions or their behavior is unusual by social and cultural standards. Of course, not all peculiar behaviour necessarily indicates a personality disorder which is why it’s necessary to take a closer look at the types of personality disorders so help can be sought as required.

What Are the Personality Disorders that Need Treatment?

There are 10 distinct personality disorders that are clustered into three different groups. Oftentimes an individual diagnosed with one of these disorders shows symptoms of at least one other personality disorder as well. The conditions in need of mental health treatment are outlined as follows in the DSM-IV (the manual used by psychologists to diagnose psychological disorders):

Cluster A — Odd or eccentric behavior. Includes:

  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Schizoid personality disorder
  • Schizotypal personality disorder

Cluster B — Dramatic, emotional or erratic behavior. 

  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Histrionic personality disorder
  • Narcissistic personality disorder

Cluster C — Anxious or fearful behavior. Includes:

multiple personalities disorders

Characteristics of the Three Main Types of Personality Disorders

Understanding personality disorder is no easy task when there are so many different categories. There are some that are more commonly recognized due to the prevalence reflected in the statistics below. According to The National Institute of Mental Health, these personality disorder types are as outlined below along with the signs that characterize them.

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder – With antisocial personality disorder, which occurs in one percent of American adults, signs include impulsive behavior, an inability to conform to social rules and an inability to show compassion for the feelings of others.
  • Avoidant Personality Disorder – With avoidant personality disorder, individuals often shy away from social situations. When they do find themselves in an environment surrounded by others, they may feel inadequate and sensitive to judgement. This type of personality disorder occurs in 5.2 percent of individuals over the age of 18.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder – Borderline personality disorder happens to 1.6% of American adults and can involve issues with self-image, impulsivity and problems with interpersonal relationships.

Characteristics of Other Personality Disorders

The personality disorders above are the most commonly discussed. The ones below still do not include all the personality disorders that have been identified, but they do cover a lot of the common signs and characteristics of personality disorders in general.

  • Schizoid Personality Disorder – This type of personality disorder causes people to appear introverted and withdrawn.
  • Paranoid Personality Disorder – Signs of this personality disorder include feeling like the actions of others are threatening or demeaning.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder – Signs of this personality disorder include intensive organization habits with an inability to adapt to routine changes.
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder – Signs of this personality disorder include dressing unusually, behaving over the top in social situations and talking to oneself.
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder – Signs of this personality disorder involve a belief of enhanced importance and a desire for attention from everyone.
  • Dependent Personality Disorder – Signs of this personality disorder include submissive behavior and a reliance upon others to the point where there is a fear of functioning without help.

Diagnosing Personality Disorders Based on Past History

While there is no firm cause of personality disorder, it’s believed that past history of trauma can play a role in the development of this mental health condition. History of personality disorder in the family, traumatic experience during childhood or a lack of proper learning and development in the early years can be signs discovered retroactively that indicate personality disorder. When a patient is being assessed by a doctor, this historical information will be required in order to make a proper diagnosis. Even gender can play a role since 75 percent of borderline personality disorder patients are women.

Possible Causes of Personality Disorders

The exact triggers that cause personality disorders are not completely understood. Experts believe there are a few possible causes, and it is very likely that a combination of all of them may be the key.

The first possible cause is early childhood experiences. Incidents that occur in our early years have a significant impact on our behavior in adulthood. Those with personality disorders have a high correlation with abuse, abandonment and neglect by their primary caregivers. The second is a genetic predisposition. A few studies of twins support the idea that personality disorders may be inherited. Lastly, irregularities in the brain may play a part as well. Both structural and chemical abnormalities in the brain, in research, have shown to be related to the mood swings, impulsivity and aggressive behaviors in individuals in need of personality disorder treatment.

Help for Personality Disorder

Traditional medical physicians are not typically qualified to make a personality disorder diagnosis. They may listen to the initial signs and then refer a patient to a mental health professional for further review. A diagnosis is made by looking for the signs of the disorder and assessing historical factors. From there, an appropriate treatment plan will be established.

In the past, personality disorders were not believed to respond well to mental health treatment. Today, however, psychologists have shown individual, group and family psychotherapy possibly combined with medication can make a huge difference in the lives of those struggling with one of the personality disorders. Finding a therapist with experience in personality disorder treatment is essential for an individual’s recovery.

People with a personality disorder rarely seek mental health treatment on their own because they do not see that their problems are mainly due to their own behavior. Instead, help is often sought by family or friends because of the issues the individual’s behavior causes for others. If someone does seek treatment on their own, it is generally because of the stresses caused by their personality disorder.

If you, a family member or friend is battling with a personality disorder, call us today. When you contact us, we will connect you with a highly knowledgeable personality disorder treatment program that fits your needs. Contact us and take your first steps towards a life free of drama and frustration.