Overview of Personality Disorders
Your personality is your unique way of thinking, understanding, reacting, and relating to people. Many people might seem to have an unusual personality. But they're considered to have a personality disorder only if their personality:
People with a personality disorder usually think they're just fine. They may be upset by consequences of having a personality disorder, such as divorce or losing a job. However, they usually think these problems are other people's fault and not theirs. Other people usually have difficulty dealing with someone with a personality disorder.
Many people with a personality disorder also have other problems such as:
Symptoms usually begin in adolescence. Sometimes symptoms get better as people get older. Some people have problems throughout life.
There are different personality disorders. Each one has different symptoms. But in most of them, people have relationship problems, for example:
Relationship problems can make it difficult for people to:
People with a personality disorder aren’t usually aware of their own role in creating their problems.
There are 10 different personality disorders that fit into 3 general categories depending on the person's overall personality style:
Odd or eccentric
Overly dramatic and unpredictable
Antisocial personality disorder: Cynical, remorseless, and impulsive
Borderline personality disorder: Wild mood swings, fear of abandonment
Histrionic personality disorder: Inappropriately dramatic and seductive
Narcissistic personality disorder: Grandiose and self-absorbed, takes advantage of others
Anxious or fearful
Some personality disorders start to cause problems earlier in life than others. Some are more common in men or women.
Sometimes it's hard to say whether someone has only one personality disorder. Some people seem to have parts of more than one personality disorder. Some also have another mental health problem such as anxiety or depression.
Although most people with personality disorders may be able to get along in the world, some get into serious trouble. They may have problems with alcohol or drugs, unsafe sex, or crime. They may even attempt to hurt or kill themselves.
People usually don't realize they have a personality disorder. Often people don’t get help on their own. Instead, friends, family, or a social agency may refer them for help when their behavior causes problems.
To tell for sure, doctors usually try to talk with the person's family members. After they get the full picture, they can see which personality disorder the person has.
Doctors treat different types of personality disorders differently. Counseling or talk therapy is a very important part of treatment. Different kinds of counseling may be better for different personality disorders.
Medicines may help relieve some of the symptoms of some personality disorders, such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, or bizarre thinking. But medicines don't cure the disorder.
Having family members involved in treatment helps. Psychiatrists, nurses, and social workers working as part of a team help support people with more severe problems.
Change is slow. Although behaviors can change within a year, personality traits may be harder to change.
Sometimes, dangerous behaviors may need treatment in a hospital for a few days.
Treatments can help people: