A personality disorder is a long-term, chronic disorder that affects the way someone thinks, acts, and feels.
This can include a person who is disorganized, overly emotional, or impulsive. These can be serious symptoms of a personality disorder.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, personality disorders are diagnosed when a person has multiple criteria for a specific personality disorder.
They may also have:
- Persistent, extreme, or irrational emotional distress
- Persistent and intense fear of the future
- Persistent and intense fear of abandonment
- Persistent self-doubts
- Constant efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
- Negative self-evaluations
- Lack of realistic expectations for relationships
Examples of personality disorders
Someone with a personality disorder may be overly emotional or have a lack of self-esteem, but they aren’t necessarily mentally ill.
Examples of personality disorders include:
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Schizoid personality disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
How is a personality disorder diagnosed?
A doctor can diagnose a personality disorder based on the criteria for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
According to the DSM-5, a person with a personality disorder has the following symptoms for at least 6 months:
- Persistent and extreme emotional distress
- Persistent and intense fear of being abandoned
- Persistent or extreme self-doubt
In addition, a person with a personality disorder must experience these symptoms for at least 1 year.
The DSM-5 also requires that the person has at least three of the following traits:
- Low self-esteem
- Dissociative symptoms
- Being overly emotional
Someone with borderline personality disorder may have symptoms of the following:
- Extreme emotional distress
- Extreme fear of abandonment
- Extreme self-doubt
How does a personality disorder affect me?
Someone with a personality disorder isn’t necessarily mentally ill.
However, the symptoms may be severe enough to cause significant distress or harm. This could include:
- Feeling that no one loves you
- Suicidal thoughts
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Excessive shopping
- Excessive gambling
- Excessive exercise
- Excessive eating
- Taking drugs
- Engaging in risky sex
- Engaging in illegal activities
The symptoms of a personality disorder may also affect the person’s relationships.
Someone with a personality disorder may be unable to form and maintain healthy relationships. They may not be able to make decisions independently.
This could cause them to be manipulated or controlled by others. They may also not be able to trust other people.
The symptoms of a personality disorder may also cause problems with the following:
- Making decisions
- Taking responsibility for their actions
- Making friends
- Finding a romantic partner
- Managing money
- Managing time
- Managing stress
- Managing medications
- Managing health conditions
- Managing substance use
- Managing legal issues
How can I manage my symptoms?
A person with a personality disorder may need to seek treatment.
They may need help with:
- Money management
- Social relationships
- Substance use
- Legal issues
- Health conditions
A therapist can help someone with a personality disorder develop healthier ways of behaving.
They can help them learn to:
- Manage stress
- Manage time
- Manage their health
- Manage their health issues
- Manage legal issues
- Manage relationships
A therapist can also help someone develop healthy goals and ways of achieving them.
They can help someone develop a plan of action and goals that are realistic.
They can also help them learn to manage emotions and manage their feelings.
They can help a person develop healthy relationships.
How can I find help?
People with personality disorders often have trouble finding support.
It’s important to let a therapist know if you’re struggling, as they can help.
They may be able to refer you to a therapist who specializes in personality disorders, such as a:
- Social worker
A psychiatrist can help someone with a personality disorder who has suicidal thoughts. They can prescribe medications to help people with personality disorders manage their symptoms.
They can also provide treatment for people with personality disorders who have a co-occurring substance use disorder.
A psychologist can help people with personality disorders who are experiencing:
- Panic attacks
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
- Bipolar disorder
A counsellor or therapist can help someone with a personality disorder who is experiencing:
- Relationship issues
Can I overcome a personality disorder?
In fact, personality disorders are treatable.
A therapist can help someone develop a treatment plan that involves the following:
- Learning healthy ways of behaving
- Developing realistic goals
- Learning to manage emotions
A therapist can also help someone with a personality disorder develop healthy relationships. This can help them overcome their disorder.
Examples of treatment for a personality disorder include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy helps you learn how to manage emotions without being overwhelmed.
- Behavioral therapy. This type of therapy helps you learn how to manage your symptoms and how to develop healthy relationships.
- Group therapy. This type of therapy can help you learn how to manage your symptoms and how to manage your relationships.
- Medication. These drugs can help you manage your symptoms and manage your emotional state.
What if I don’t want to be a part of a treatment plan?
If you don’t want to be a part of a treatment plan, you don’t have to be.
However, you can ask the therapist to make a referral to another therapist if you want to go to a different type of treatment.
What’s the outlook?
A personality disorder is treatable if you find the right support.
In some cases, it may be necessary to see a psychiatrist or psychologist to get the right treatment.
However, a therapist can help you develop a plan of action and goals that are realistic.
Therapy can also help you learn to manage emotions.
It can help you develop healthy relationships. It can also help you overcome your personality disorder.
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