When someone is diagnosed with a personality disorder, they have to be significantly different from an “average” person. The DSM-V has stringent conditions before someone is able to receive a diagnosis of a personality disorder. They must have different thinking and perception problems, feel different from the norm and relate to others in ways not experienced by the average person.

Understanding Personality Disorders

Generally speaking, someone with a personality disorder is very different from the average individual. They have distorted beliefs that seem out of touch with reality. This can be incredibly distressing not just for the person who has the disorder, but also to those that are close to them. Some of the symptoms commonly seen in people with a personality disorder include:

  • Overwhelming feelings of negativity. This includes anxiety, distress, anger and/or worthlessness.
  • Being emotionally disconnected, which leads to people feeling empty and avoiding social contacts.
  • Experiencing difficulties in managing negative feelings. This often leads to self-harm, including taking substances. Sometimes, this can lead to threatening others.
  • Behavior that can only be described as odd.
  • Difficulties in holding on to social relationships with children, partners and others who care for them.
  • Psychosis, which is where all contact with reality is lost for a period of time.

Someone who has a personality disorder will often struggle with stressful situations, as these will make their symptoms worse. They often also have a dual diagnosis, which means they also deal with substance misuse, depression and other conditions.

Why Do Personality Disorders Happen and When?

Usually, a personality disorder first emerges during adolescence. They continue for the rest of a person’s life. More awareness is being raised about this, with prominent figures in the media admitting to having borderline personality disorder for instance. The disorder can be mild, moderate and severe. Generally speaking, people will experience “remissions”, meaning they function in the same way as anyone else, but they will often relapse for periods of time. It is not known why personality disorders occur. However, family and genetic factors are believed to play an important role, as does childhood trauma like abuse or neglect.

The Types of Personality Disorders

There are three clusters of personality disorders, being type A, B and C.

  • Cluster A – These are the disorders that make it difficult to related to other people. They exhibit behavior that is often seen as eccentric or otherwise odd. Other people will often describe them as people who live in a world of their own, or even in a fantasy world. One example of this is paranoid personality disorder, whereby the suffered distrust everybody else, believing they intend to harm them.
  • Cluster B – Cluster B people struggle to keep their own feelings in check. This means they have severe mood swings and their views of others can go from positive to negative in an instant. Because of this, they often exhibit behavior that others consider to be unpredictable, dramatic and disturbing. A good example of a cluster B personality disorder is borderline personality disorder. People with this disorder have a lot of emotional instability, often self-harm and struggle to keep stable relationships with other people.
  • Cluster C – Someone with a cluster C disorder struggle with extreme and overwhelming fear and anxiety. They often appear withdrawn and are seen as being antisocial. A clear example of this type of disorder is avoidant personality disorder. These people come across as incredibly shy, have terrible social inhibitions, always feel as if they are not good enough and fall apart whenever they deal with rejection. They often want to have closeness with others but are so afraid of rejection that they never try.
  • Personality disorders can be very difficult to understand and it is important that someone is only diagnosed after they meet all the necessary criteria. This is also because there is no cure for a personality disorder. Rather, patients can be taught to manage their condition, often through a combination of therapy and medication. At Creative Care, our therapists are at hand to get this process started.

    How Common Are Personality Disorders

    Contrary to popular belief, personality disorders are not rare. It is believed that as many as 1 in 20 people suffer from them. However, the majority of these only have a mild condition, which means that they only struggle with their problem when they experience stress. This can happen during a house move, bereavement, exams or any other stressful situation. Those with severe conditions, however, will often require frequent inpatient care and continuing mental health support for the rest of their life.

    Severe conditions are very rare, however, and only about 2% of the population is believed to be affected. What is known, however, is which conditions are the most common. In order of most to least common, these are:

    • OCD
    • Schizoid
    • Avoidant
    • Paranoid
    • Borderline
    • Antisocial

    Outlook for Personality Disorders

    A personality disorder is something that will stay with a person for the rest of their lives. However, with the right medical and psychological treatment such as that what we offer at Creative Care, it can be fully managed. The severity of the disorder will determine how much support is needed. Furthermore, if there is a dual diagnosis, more support will also be required. Psychotherapy is often needed, particularly in moderate to severe cases.

    A number of psychological therapies have been shown to be productive in treating personality disorders. However, every person is an individual, which means it is not possible to come up with a one-size-fits-all solution. We ensure all our therapies are delivered by specialists who have been trained in this field, and that they are targeted specifically at you and your personal condition.
    If someone has a personality disorder, particularly if it is mild to severe, it is important they seek treatment. This is especially true for those with antisocial or borderline personality. This is because they choose behaviors that are more likely to bring them into contact with health services, even if they don’t like to seek help. However, they are more likely to self-harm and to have a dual diagnosis.

    If you or a loved one are struggling with a personality disorder, please contact our Creative Care team today. We are at hand to help you regain control over your life and manage your condition. This can be an empowering moment to help you go back into remission and stop subsequent relapses.