What is a personality disorder?​

Your personality is influenced by your experiences, environment and inherited characteristics.

A personality disorder usually develops by late adolescence or early adulthood and can be caused by different environmental and genetic factors. It affects:

  • The way you think of yourself and others
  • How you respond emotionally
  • How you relate to others
  • Your capacity to control your behaviour

There are 10 specific types of personality disorders that cause different dysfunctions in personality. Without treatment, these disorders can be long-lasting.

Some common disorders include:

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

A pattern of preoccupation with control, perfection and orderliness. With this condition, you may be hyper focused with schedules and details.

Narcissistic personality disorder

Someone with this disorder may have a grand sense of entitlement, self-importance and lack empathy. They commonly take advantage of others.

Paranoid personality disorder

People with this disorder often assume others will harm or deceive them. They have a pattern of being suspicious of others and tend to see them as spiteful or mean.

Borderline personality disorder

Symptoms of this disorder commonly cause problems in personal relationships, and can include poor self-image and impulsivity. There may be suicide attempts, ongoing feelings of emptiness and intense anger.

Treatment

The most common treatment for personality disorders is psychotherapy. During psychotherapy, you learn about your disorder, what’s causing your symptoms and your experiences. You’ll get to speak about your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Your therapist will help you understand how your disorder affects others and you’ll be taught how to recognise as well as to manage and reduce the symptoms.

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Psychoeducation may also be prescribed. This is where the person and their family are taught about the illness, treatment and ways to cope.

There are no specific medications to treat personality disorders. Medications like antidepressants, mood-stabilisers and anti-anxiety medication may help to managet some symptoms.

Severe cases of personality disorders may need the help of your doctor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker and your loved ones.

Managing a personality disorder

  • Besides treatment, there are some ways that you can manage your symptoms.
  • Learn about your condition – it will help you and your loved ones understand your symptoms.
  • Move more. Exercise can help manage symptoms like depression and anxiety.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. These can worsen symptoms, especially if taken along with your medication.
  • Join a support group. Being around people who understand you will make you feel less alone.
  • Stay on top of your check-ups.
  • Stay connected with your loved ones, isolation can worsen your symptoms.
  • Write in a journal to express how you feel.

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