Relationships play an important role in emotional well-being, but for a person with a schizotypal personality, forming and maintaining them can be difficult. Understanding this personality disorder is the first step toward getting help for the condition. Read on for answers to common questions like “What is schizotypal personality disorder?” and “What causes STPD?”
What Is STPD?
Schizotypal personality disorder or STPD is a personality disorder, a mental health condition that affects how people think, feel and behave. Individuals who have a schizotypal personality have difficulty forming relationships. They often find it challenging to interpret the motivations, feelings and behaviors of others, and they might exhibit strange characteristics that complicate social interactions.
What Are the Symptoms of Having a Schizotypal Personality?
Most people are diagnosed with schizotypal personality in early adulthood but experienced symptoms throughout childhood and adolescence. Typically, to receive an STPD diagnosis, a person must exhibit at least five of the following symptoms:
- Thinking everyday happenings are deeply significant and related directly to them
- Believing in the supernatural with interest in things like clairvoyance, telepathy or the paranormal
- Having abnormal perceptions such as hearing a voice or seeing things that aren’t there
- Speaking in a strange way, such as employing many metaphors, using vague terminology or explaining things in an overly complicated manner
- Being suspicious of others or paranoid
- Exhibiting odd behaviors or modifying their appearance in unusual ways
- Not having many friends outside of close family
- Experiencing social anxiety, often due to paranoia
How Does Schizotypal Personality Disorder Differ From Other Mental Health Conditions?
Schizotypal personality disorder shares characteristics with other mental health conditions. For example, people with schizophrenia may also experience abnormal perceptions, but they tend to be more severe hallucinations than what someone with a schizotypal personality sees or hears.
Individuals with bipolar disorder may have odd ideas like those with schizotypal personalities. However, these tend to be full-blown delusions that make it difficult for people with bipolar disorder to differentiate reality from fantasy.
People with paranoid personality disorder (PPD), avoidant personality disorder (AVPD) and schizoid personality disorder (ScPD) also struggle with relationships. The key difference between these conditions and STPD is that schizotypal personality involves odd behaviors and beliefs that aren’t present with AVPD, PPD or ScPD.
With AVPD, the motivation to withdraw from others comes from fear of rejection and criticism. Individuals with PPD think others are out to get them, while people with ScPD usually aren’t interested in other people.
Strange behaviors are possible with borderline personality disorder (BPD), but individuals with the condition crave connection and fear social isolation. Those with schizotypal personality disorder may prefer to be on their own due to social anxiety.
How Common Is Schizotypal Personality Disorder?
Schizotypal personality disorder is relatively rare. Only about 3.9% of the U.S. population is thought to suffer from the personality disorder.
What Causes Schizotypal Personality Disorder?
More research is necessary to fully understand the causes of STPD, but based on previous studies, the following seem to play a role in the condition:
- Genetics: Schizotypal personality tends to run in families, and one or more genes are likely associated with the condition. Individuals who have close relatives with schizophrenia may also be more at risk for developing STPD.
- Environment: People who experience trauma during childhood due to neglect, abuse or instability may be more prone to developing STPD.
- Developmental: Those with STPD may acquire social skills more slowly than other children and teens. As a result, they may have negative experiences interacting with peers when they are young and stop trying to form friendships.
How Can Schizotypal Personality Be Treated?
Psychotherapy is an important part of treatment for STPD. Through cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of talk therapy, people with the condition can learn to identify patterns of thinking that may be faulty or skewed. They can come to see how their thoughts conflict with reality. In addition, they can begin to build the social skills needed to relate to others and build healthy relationships.
In some cases, health providers may prescribe medications to treat symptoms of STPD. Antipsychotic medicines may reduce perception distortions, disordered thinking and odd speech and behaviors. Antidepressant medications may be recommended to address underlying depression and anxiety.
What Are the Effects of Schizotypal Personality Disorder?
Individuals with STPD are often socially isolated and may suffer from additional mental disorders. An estimated 30% to 50% of people with STPD have clinical depression. Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder also frequently occur alongside STPD.
Even without additional mental illnesses, individuals with STPD can face many challenges. They may struggle to succeed at work due to their inability to collaborate with coworkers, and modifications they make to their appearance may be inappropriate for the workplace. STPD also increases the risk of developing substance use disorders, as those with the condition may try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to ease anxiety and other symptoms.
Family members of people with STPD often face stress. They may worry about what will happen to their loved ones in the future but find it hard to discuss serious matters with them. In addition, they may not know how to interact with them due to their behaviors and odd ways of thinking.
How Can People With STPD and Their Loved Ones Cope With the Disorder?
Loved ones have an important role to play in the treatment of STPD. Since the person dealing with the personality disorder may have distorted thoughts and beliefs, mental health professionals may turn to family members to collect information about patients’ behaviors and history. Being willing to speak honestly and openly about issues can provide valuable information that mental health professionals can use to develop treatment plans.
Family therapy with a mental health professional knowledgeable about STPD can benefit the individual with the condition and their loved ones. During sessions, everyone can share their thoughts and feelings and work together to develop strategies to help the person with STPD navigate daily life.
Get Help for Schizotypal Personality
With the right treatment, a person with a schizotypal personality can lead a fuller life and build stronger relationships. Restore Mental Health offers a variety of treatment options that can include interventions for secondary mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Contact us today to learn more about the help available for you or your loved one.