If there’s one thing that makes every human being special, it’s their unique personality. From genetics and upbringing to environment and experiences, many factors help build our personalities. While these factors can encourage positive traits, they may also encourage negative ones. In extreme cases, negative traits can accumulate, leading to a personality disorder.

A personality disorder is when someone exhibits a long-term pattern of unhealthy thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Generally, these traits develop during adolescence and continue into adulthood. When ignored, they can negatively impact everything from work and school to relationships and mental well-being. Keep reading to learn more about this condition and the available treatments for personality disorders.

Types of Personality Disorders

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 9% of American adults have a personality disorder. While all personality disorders affect mental health and behavior, they differ in terms of symptoms. There are 10 types of personality disorders in total, all of which fall into one of three categories: cluster A, B, or C. These disorders are as follows:

  • Personality A disorder: This type is characterized by limited emotional expression and eccentric, bizarre behavior. There are three disorders in cluster A:
    • Paranoid personality disorder
    • Schizoid personality disorder
    • Schizotypal personality disorder
  • Personality B disorder: This type is characterized by unpredictable, dramatic behavior and strong emotions. There are four disorders in cluster B:
    • Antisocial personality disorder
    • Borderline personality disorder
    • Histrionic personality disorder
    • Narcissistic personality disorder
  • Personality C disorder: This type is characterized by excessive anxiety and fear. There are three disorders in cluster C:
    • Avoidant personality disorder
    • Dependent personality disorder
    • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

Whether cluster A, B or C, personality disorders can negatively impact a person’s job, personal relationships and overall quality of life. Fortunately, treatment is available. Before an individual can receive treatment, however, they need to be diagnosed.

Symptoms of Different Personality Disorders

Achieving a diagnosis of a personality disorder isn’t always easy. While some disorders — such as obsessive-compulsive, narcissistic and borderline personality disorders — are fairly common, others are less well-known and thus harder to diagnose. That’s why it’s important to be able to recognize symptoms. Here are some common symptoms for each personality disorder:

  • Paranoid personality disorder
    • Belief that others are dangerous and harmful, despite having no evidence
    • Irrational or hostile reactions to insults
    • Reluctance to confide in others
    • Desire to hold grudges
  • Schizoid personality disorder
    • Lack of interest in social relationships
    • Challenges in perceiving social cues
    • Limited emotional expression
    • Difficulty experiencing pleasure during activities
  • Schizotypal personality disorder
    • Speech, behavior and appearance that don’t fit social norms
    • Discomfort with social relationships
    • Fantastical thoughts, such as believing in magical powers
    • Perceptual experiences, such as hearing voices
  • Antisocial personality disorder
    • Aggressive, impulsive behavior
    • Lack of remorse
    • Disregard for other people’s feelings or safety
    • Engaging in illicit activities, such as theft
  • Borderline personality disorder
    • Poor self-image and fear of abandonment
    • Impulsive, dangerous behavior
    • Bouts of intense anger
    • Suicidal behavior
  • Histrionic personality disorder
    • Extremely emotional or dramatic behavior
    • Constant need for attention
    • Being easily swayed by other people’s opinions
    • Excessive focus on physical appearance
  • Narcissistic personality disorder
    • Inflated sense of self-importance
    • Desire for praise and attention
    • Disregard for other people’s emotions
    • Willingness to exploit others for personal gain
  • Avoidant personality disorder
    • Feeling inferior to others
    • Hypersensitivity to criticism
    • Avoidance of social situations
    • Extreme fear of rejection
  • Dependent personality disorder
    • Extreme reliance on others
    • Lack of self-confidence
    • Difficulty making decisions
    • Submissive or clingy behavior in relationships
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
    • Desire for perfection and a need to control situations
    • Experiencing distress when perfection isn’t achieved
    • Inflexibility when it comes to change
    • Prioritizing tasks over relationships

If you notice symptoms of a personality disorder in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to seek treatment.

Treatments for Personality Disorders

Most personality disorders can’t be cured. However, with treatment, symptoms can be helped. Through symptom management, those with personality disorders can improve their relationships, social skills and overall quality of life.

The most common treatment is psychotherapy. Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy involves speaking with a psychologist about your mental health. Like personality disorders, psychotherapy can be divided into different types, each with its unique focus.

The type of psychotherapy you receive depends on your symptoms. For example, those with cluster C disorders often go through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps turn negative thought patterns into positive ones. Meanwhile, people with cluster A or B disorders typically enroll in dialectical behavior therapy, which focuses on managing emotions. All clusters may also benefit from interpersonal psychotherapy, which involves improving personal relationships.

In addition to psychotherapy, a patient may undergo one of the following treatments for personality disorders:

  • Medication: Often, medication is prescribed to help manage symptoms. This may include antidepressants (common for avoidant personality disorder), mood stabilizers (common for bipolar personality disorder) or antipsychotic medications (common for schizotypal personality disorder). The most effective personality disorder treatment involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
  • Group therapy: Besides one-on-one psychotherapy sessions, patients can benefit from group therapy. This involves discussing your mental health with a counselor and a group of peers who are experiencing the same issues. Talking to people with the same personality disorder can reduce loneliness.
  • Inpatient treatment: If symptoms are severe (such as suicidal tendencies or hallucinations), inpatient treatment can help. In an inpatient program, patients work on improving symptoms within a residential facility. They have access to professional counselors, group therapy sessions and medical treatment.

Through treatment, a better life can be achieved.

Achieving a Happier, Healthier Life

Our personalities are what make us unique. While we all have traits we cherish, many of us also have traits we want to improve. This is especially true for those with personality disorders. Things like genetics, trauma and environmental factors can lead to personality disorders that interfere with health, happiness and overall well-being.

The good news is that many personality disorder symptoms can be significantly improved with treatment. At Sunlight Recovery, we’re dedicated to helping individuals regain control of their lives through mental wellness treatment. Through therapy, group counseling, medical treatments and inpatient services, we’ve helped many individuals overcome debilitating personality disorders. If you or a loved one is looking for treatment, contact us today.