Personality Disorder Symptoms, Causes and Effects
Updated: Sep 13
Personality disorders are mental conditions that can damage lives and relationships if left untreated. If you believe that you or someone you know could have a personality disorder, give us a call to learn about treatment options.
What Are the Types of Personality Disorders?
Personality disorders are defined by one of five categories: paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, antisocial and borderline. Disorders can co-occur, and symptoms often blend together. Personality disorders can lead to suicide; according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 90 percent of people who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder. The New York Times lists the types of personality disorders as follows:
Paranoid Personality Disorder
Individuals with paranoid personality disorder often have a general feeling that others are trying to mistreat them. The condition does not progress into full-blown psychosis such as schizophrenia.
Schizoid Personality Disorder
Those who suffer from this disorder tend to avoid social interaction and be indifferent to social cues. It goes beyond introversion; introverts occasionally enjoy socializing.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
People with antisocial personality disorder have a tendency to disregard the rights and feelings of others, often committing crimes for personal gain.
Borderline Personality Disorder
People with borderline personality disorder tend to have unstable emotions and mood swings. Unlike people with bipolar disorder, they do not usually experience cycles of emotional highs and lows.
Histrionic Personality Disorder
This condition is characterized by acting in an excessively dramatic or emotional way, usually with the purpose of drawing attention.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Named for the figure from Greek mythology, narcissistic personality disorder is a condition in which patients have an inflated view of self or their importance, often at the expense of others.
Avoidant Personality Disorder
Those with avoidant personality disorder often dislike social interactions and feel inferior to others. They are very reluctant to talk about their problems or get in touch with their feelings.
Dependent Personality Disorder
People who have dependent personality disorder have difficulty functioning without the aid or encouragement of others.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
This condition is characterized primarily by a compulsion to engage in repetitive behaviors and repetitive thought patterns.
What Causes a Personality Disorder?
Personality disorders are a combination of genetic factors and childhood upbringing. For example, if a person has an emotionally or physically dysfunctional family life in early adolescence or childhood, he or she can develop a personality disorder such as narcissistic personality disorder in later life. It takes a knowledge of the person’s background and family history to pinpoint what causes a personality disorder, but it is not an exact science.
What Are the Signs of a Personality Disorder?
People with personality disorders tend to display eccentric, dramatic, or anxious/fearful behaviors. A professional evaluation can determine whether or not these behaviors indicate a disorder.
Emotional Symptoms of Personality Disorders
The emotional symptoms of personality disorders vary in severity and expression. For example, people with avoidant personality disorder have an extreme aversion of conflict, allowing others to take advantage of them. Other symptoms can include poor impulse control and a propensity for substance abuse.
Physical Symptoms of Personality Disorders
Personality disorders can affect both a person's mental state and physical health. Someone with schizophrenia may neglect personal hygiene or suffer from insomnia due to fearful thoughts, while a person who is obsessive-compulsive may have raw skin from excessive washing. Because personality disorders are difficult to diagnose by someone who lacks the necessary medical background, a detailed psychiatric evaluation is usually required.
Depression and Personality Disorders
Depression can be a symptom of several types of personality disorders, or it can occur on its own. People who have trouble interacting with others or who lose interest in hobbies are more likely to become depressed. Depression often occurs along with other personality disorders, such as avoidant personality disorder or phases of bipolar disorder.
Getting Help for a Personality Disorder
People with personality disorders often do not seek help from doctors on their own but only when the consequences of their behavior are dire or when someone intervenes. This is because people with personality disorders often deny that there is anything wrong with them, or they may see their struggles as a natural part of their personality rather than an illness. Medication is one component of treatment, but many personality-altering medications are available by prescription only. You will need to consult a physician or mental health professional for an evaluation. After this, you or your loved one will be prescribed the appropriate medication and placed on a regimen.
Treatment for personality disorders involves both medication and psychotherapy. Positive thought processes can be dealt with through behavioral therapy or by attending support groups of people with similar disorders who are recovering from them. To get help for a personality disorder for yourself or someone you know, call me at +852 53292264. I am available and can point you to resources and treatment at any time. It’s never too late to turn things around.