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Signs and Symptoms of a Personality Disorder

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A personality disorder, such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Dependent Personality Disorder, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, can impair your ability to function in society because of the way it affects how you perceive and react to situations or relate to others.

Everyone has their own unique way of perceiving things and relating to the world, but mentally healthy people usually try another approach to a problem if they find that what they’re doing isn’t working.

On the other hand, people with personality disorders tend to have a rigid thinking pattern that doesn’t change with the situation. Such thinking can create difficulties managing interpersonal relationships, work, and school.

Personality Disorder Symptoms

Certain signs and symptoms indicate that you may have a personality disorder. However, one thing to think about is that you may not even realize you have a personality disorder. Your thoughts and behaviors may seem normal to you, and you may blame others for your problems. As a result, a loved one may recognize before you do that your behavior is negatively impacting your life, and he or she may try to seek personality disorder treatment on your behalf.

The Mayo Clinic offers some general symptoms that may indicate a personality disorder:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Distrust of other people
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Need for instant gratification
  • Rocky relationships
  • Social isolation
  • Poor impulse control
  • Alcohol or substance abuse

Your overall behavior may be considered dramatic, erratic, odd, or eccentric. Doctors will typically diagnose a personality disorder if your signs and symptoms continue, even though it repeatedly yields negative results.

The psychiatric community has grouped these signs and symptoms into three categories, or “clusters,” of personality disorders based on specific characteristics. There is a lot of crossover with these types of disorders, and even if you have one diagnosed personality disorder, you may show symptoms of another personality disorder.

Cluster A Personality Disorders

These personality disorders are identified by odd, eccentric thinking or behavior. Cluster A personality disorders include the following:

  • Paranoid Personality Disorder: the belief that others are out to hurt you
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder: deep introversion and withdrawal
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder: emotionally and socially detached

Cluster B Personality Disorders

These personality disorders are characterized by highly dramatic, overly emotional thoughts and behaviors. Examples of Cluster B personality disorders include the following:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder: unstable mood, behavior, and self-image
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder: an exaggerated belief in your own importance
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder: lacking empathy for others

Cluster C Personality Disorders

If you are exhibiting anxious or inhibited behavior, you may have one of the following Cluster C personality disorders:

  • Avoidant Personality Disorder: extreme fear of rejection
  • Dependent Personality Disorder: massive insecurity and reliance on others to make decisions
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: preoccupation with perfectionism and control

When to Seek Personality Disorder Treatment

If you exhibit any of the personality disorder signs and symptoms listed above, the best thing to do is explore personality disorder treatment. If someone you love is exhibiting these symptoms, you can talk to them and express your care and concern. You can’t force someone to seek help on their own, but you can offer encouragement or support. You may even attend an appointment with your loved one at a personality disorder treatment center.

If someone you love has tried to hurt themselves, or is talking seriously about doing so, you should take them to the hospital or call for help immediately.

Most people with personality disorders receive treatment through a combination of talk therapy and medication. Medications can help relieve many problematic symptoms of personality disorders, such as anxiety, depression, or impulsivity, but are not an effective treatment for the personality disorder itself.

Just remember that the signs and symptoms of personality disorders develop over a long period of time, so treatment will likely be a long-term commitment. Behavioral changes may start within a year, but improvements in relationships and social functioning may take longer.

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