Around 9% of American adults have been diagnosed with a personality disorder. If you’ve recently found yourself among them, you may be asking yourself, “I have a personality disorder, now what?” While receiving this diagnosis can feel overwhelming, the good news is you’re far from alone, and there is help available. Today, we’ll talk about what to do after a diagnosis of personality disorder and provide information to help you understand your recent diagnosis.
What Is a Personality Disorder?
Personality disorders are a group of 10 distinct mental health conditions that cause long-term disruptive patterns in how you think, behave, feel or relate to others. Depending on the type of personality disorder, you may come off as uncaring or too emotional. But most people with a personality disorder don’t realize their thoughts or behaviors are problematic.
Although personality disorders are one of the least understood mental health conditions, a few things might contribute to your diagnosis. For example, genetics might be to blame. This means that if your parent, grandparent or sibling had a personality disorder, you’re more likely to have one, too. In addition, childhood trauma is often considered a leading cause of personality disorders, especially if someone experienced verbal or sexual abuse as a child.
These experiences can make trusting or being intimate with others challenging, potentially leading to permanent alterations to your personality. Other potential causes of personality disorders might include brain changes and certain cultural factors.
Different Types of Personality Disorders
There are 10 major personality disorders, each with its own set of symptoms.
- Avoidant Personality Disorder: This disorder involves persistent feelings of inadequacy. People with this disorder are often highly sensitive and may appear “overly emotional.” Due to this, they will often avoid social interactions with others and avoid intimacy or close friendships.
- Dependent Personality Disorder: Opposite to the above, this disorder involves an excessive need to be cared for by another person, to the point of being overly submissive. People with this personality disorder often appear clingy and experience separation anxiety from the person they’ve bonded with.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: Although it sounds like OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), the two are actually different. This personality disorder involves an abnormal obsession with orderliness and perfection that can cause disruptions in doing even mundane tasks. Someone with this disorder may seem controlling.
- Antisocial Personality Disorder: APD involves a lack of respect toward others and a seemingly complete lack of regard for social norms. As a result, people with this disorder may hurt themselves or others and often refuse to take accountability for their actions. They may come off as eccentric or rebellious.
- Borderline Personality Disorder: This disorder involves difficulty regulating emotions, which can make people with this disorder appear moody or unstable. This personality disorder often leads to difficulty maintaining relationships and impulsive behaviors that may get someone in trouble or cause them harm.
- Histrionic Personality Disorder: A distorted self-image and unstable emotions are the trademarks of this personality disorder. This is because someone with this disorder relies entirely on others’ opinions for their feelings of self-worth, and subsequently, they can come off as needy.
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder: A person with this disorder has an inflated sense of self that thrives on consistent praise and attention. They can often be cruel because they lack empathy for others and appear uncaring or “full of themselves.”
- Paranoid Personality Disorder: As the name suggests, paranoia is the trademark of this personality disorder. Someone with this disorder may severely mistrust people and routinely believe someone (or something) is out to get them. Due to this, these people may seem eccentric.
- Schizoid Personality Disorder: This disorder involves consistent patterns of general disinterest and detachment from people due to a limited range of emotions. This can make these people come off cold or uncaring.
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder: This disorder involves discomfort with close relationships or intimacy that may have to do with delusions or paranoia. These symptoms can make people with this personality disorder seem distant and difficult to get close to.
Your Personality Disorder Can Explain Why You’ve Struggled With Some Parts of Your Life
There are many personality disorders, but all of them can negatively impact your daily life. If you’ve been struggling with certain aspects of your life, a personality disorder diagnosis can help explain what’s going on, and understanding why certain parts of your life are negatively affected is one of the first steps to recovery. With time and treatment, you can learn to manage these symptoms so you can start living your life to the fullest.
This Is What Treatment for a Personality Disorder Looks Like
Treating a personality disorder can be challenging because the related symptoms often cause people to believe there’s nothing wrong with them. Once a person can be convinced of the need for treatment, an individualized approach is the best option. A mental health professional will likely prescribe a combination of medications and therapy to help manage the symptoms of your unique personality disorder so you can enjoy a happier, fuller life.
Talk therapy is one of the most valuable tools in treating personality disorders. During talk therapy, you’ll be provided with various techniques that help you identify behaviors, thoughts and emotions. You’ll also get to talk about your past experiences, which may help shed light on why you developed a personality disorder.
Medications aren’t always prescribed but are helpful when your personality disorder comes with anxiety or depression. Antianxiety, antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs may be prescribed to help with specific symptoms.
It’s Okay to Seek a Higher Level of Care When You’re in a Crisis
If you or a loved one are battling the effects of a personality disorder, you should know that you aren’t alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out for a higher level of care if you feel you’re in a crisis. Contact us today to speak with one of our compassionate counselors about how we can help you navigate your life after a personality disorder diagnosis.