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By definition, a personality disorder falls into a class of mental disorder marked by dysfunctional behavior and thought patterns.
This dysfunction sets the individual apart from others when it comes to the ways in which they perceive things and relate to other people. The consequences of the dysfunction inherent in different types of personality disorders include the breakdown of personal relationships, problems at work or school, and limitations in social activities.
Personality disorders usually begin or become apparent during an individual’s teens or early adulthood, when the integration of their identity into greater society or their specific culture is seen as problematic due to certain behaviors and ways of thinking that clearly deviate from the ‘norm’ and go beyond the regular weird and strange people that seem to stand out from society.
What makes the differences a personality disorder is the rigidity in which they are entrenched, often causing intense distress to an individual to the point where they feel their condition is disabling. Instead of setting them apart – like so many individualists take pride in – a personality disorder is impairing and disruptive to a healthy way of life.
Although a specific cause for personality disorders is yet to be determined, studies prove that a combination of biological and environmental factors play a significant role in their development. These studies have helped identify risk factors, like experiences of trauma and abuse, that together with genetic predisposition can lead to the onset of personality disorders. Different types of disorders have varying risk factors that depend on the individual’s biology combined with their circumstances.
There are currently ten different types of personality disorders that are grouped into three categories – Suspicious; Emotional and Impulsive; Anxious. The disorders are grouped according to the specific characteristics each presents, giving deeper insight into establishing proper treatment.
- Paranoid Personality Disorder
- Schizoid Personality Disorder
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
Emotional and Impulsive
- Borderline Personality Disorder: Marked by intense variations in moods, behaviors, and self-image. An individual with BPD is likely to have extreme episodes alternating between depression, rage, and anxiety. Episodes may last anything from a few hours to several days. Research suggests that those at risk include individuals who have a parent with BPD, have structural irregularities in the parts of the brain that control impulse and the regulation of emotion, have experienced childhood trauma or abuse.
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Marked by an individual’s highly inflated sense of self- importance. These people have an intense need for attention and notably lack the ability to empathize since they are unable to perceive any point of view aside from their own. Narcissists don’t deal well with stress and find it difficult to adapt to change. They’re prone to outbursts of anger, and personal relationships are problematic. Research suggests that children who have experienced either overprotective or neglectful parenting are at risk of developing this disorder in later life.
- Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Dependent Personality Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder: Marked by extreme organization and perfectionism. People with this disorder find it difficult to function when these extremes are not met in the outside world. Anxiety and depression are therefore common among individuals with OCPD. The exact cause is yet unknown, but research suggests that people with existing mental health problems are more likely than others to develop this personality disorder.
A recent study showed that more people are diagnosed with personality disorders than any other type of mental illness. But instead of being disheartening, this information is encouraging because it implies that people are recognizing that they need help, and then following through and seeking that help. There is no need to be buffered through life, being impaired by dysfunctional behaviors and thoughts when the appropriate support exists for people with personality disorders to go on to lead successful and fulfilling lives.
Identifying a problem is the first step, but in order to properly treat and manage a personality disorder, you have to make an appointment with a medical professional so that a diagnosis can be made. Only after a proper diagnosis is made can the best route for treatment be established, taking into account your specific situation and needs.
Treatment methods vary depending on the type of personality disorder and your individual life experience. Your doctor may recommend psychotherapy, medication (antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, mood stabilizers), and adjustments to lifestyle – regular exercise, good nutrition, etc. Most often, it’s a combination of these that make up a holistic treatment plan that will allow the individual to regain control of their condition.
At ZwavelStream Clinic we believe that the best way to assist you on your way to healing is to provide that holistic approach – taking care of the whole in order to achieve wellbeing. We have psychologists available for an appointment if you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like more information about personality disorders.