Personality Disorders

Personality Disorders

Personality is an individuals’ way of feeling, thinking, and behaving that makes them unique from other people. A personality is often dictated by certain experiences, an individuals’ surroundings, and inherited traits.

Normally, the personality that an individual develops will remain the same over a long period. However, when someone displays signs and behaviors that deviate from their personality, this may cause distress or problems maintaining a normal life. When this happens, the diagnosis is normally a personality disorder.

What Is a Personality Disorder?

There are 10 specific forms of personality disorders. Overall, these disorders are defined as long-term patterns of behavioral experiences that are much different than expected. Normally these patterns begin in the teenage years or early adulthood and cause heavy periods of stress. IF left untreated, these disorders may be long-lasting.

Normally, personality disorders affect at least two of these areas:

  • The way an individual thinks about themselves and others
  • The way individuals respond to situations emotionally
  • How they relate to other people
  • Their ability to control their behavior

Several types of personality disorders exist and are listed in the following section.

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Common Types of Personality Disorder

There are several common types of personality disorders, each including its own unique symptoms and area of life it affects.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

This includes a pattern of ignoring or violating the rights of other individuals. When antisocial personality disorder is present, individuals won’t conform to social norms and may repeatedly lie or deceive other people and act impulsively.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

This is highlighted by a pattern of shyness and feelings of inadequacy. Individuals with this form of personality disorder may also respond poorly to criticism. Normally, they won’t become involved with people unless they are positive they will be liked and are obsessed with being rejected.

Borderline Personality Disorder

This particular type of disorder includes instability in personal relationships, strong emotions, poor self-image, and acting impulsively. Individuals with this form of personality disorder will employ certain tactics to avoid being abandoned, may have attempted suicide, and display intense feelings of anger or emptiness.

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Dependent Personality Disorder

This is a pattern of needing to be taken care of or displaying clingy behavior. Individuals may have difficulty making decisions without being reassured. They may also feel uncomfortable or unhappy when they’re alone and become unable to care for themselves.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

This includes excessive emotion and attention-seeking behavior. Individuals suffering from this personality disorder are uncomfortable when the attention isn’t on them and use their physical appearance to garner attention. They may also display rapidly shifting and exaggerated emotions.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

This type of disorder includes the need for admiration and a lack of empathy for other people. Individuals may have an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement and may commonly take advantage of others.

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Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

This includes the obsession with organization, perfection, or control. Individuals will be overly focused on details or schedules and may work to the point of not having time for leisure, friends, or family. They may also be firmly grounded and inflexible in their morals and values.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

This is highlighted by patterns of being suspicious or overly vigilant. Individuals with this disorder may view others as being cruel or spiteful. They often assume everyone is out to get them and won’t easily confide in people or become close to them.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

This includes being detached from social interaction and expressing very few emotions. These individuals do not seek close personal relationships, would rather be alone, and do not care about admiration or criticism.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

This is a pattern of being uncomfortable in close relationships or having distorted thinking or extreme behavior. Individuals may have beliefs or behaviors and extreme social anxiety.

Each personality disorder falls into a category known as a cluster. There are three clusters used to categorize each personality disorder type.

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Clusters of Personality Disorders

The DSM-5 uses three categories to group personality disorders, which are all highlighted below:

Cluster A

Cluster A includes personalities considered eccentric or odd. They include:

  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Schizotypal personality disorder
  • Schizoid personality disorder

Cluster B

Cluster B is considered erratic or dramatic. These include:

  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Histrionic personality disorder
  • Narcissistic personality disorder

Cluster C

Cluster C includes individuals that are fearful or anxious. These disorders include:

With such a wide variety of disorders, it’s not uncommon to wonder what causes each one specifically. The following section outlines the most common causes of personality disorder.

What Causes a Personality Disorder?

There have been several theories that point to the cause of developing a personality disorder. However, research seems to point to the most significant influences as genetic factors, trauma, and certain dysfunction.

Certain areas of research have pointed to possible chemical imbalances as the culprit. However, external factors seem to be a much more appropriate source for these challenges.

Because there’s no specific cause, diagnosing a personality disorder can be challenging. How do mental health professionals identify these disorders in individuals that suffer from them?

Diagnosing a Personality Disorder

There are no lab tests that uncover specific markers for diagnosing a personality disorder. However, certain diagnostic criteria exist for identifying the presence of any specific type.

  • Doctors may perform a physical exam and ask in-depth questions about your health. Sometimes, personality disorders are linked to underlying physical conditions. These evaluations may also include screenings for drugs or alcohol.
  • A psychiatric evaluation will include a discussion of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. There are also certain questionnaires to pinpoint specific disorder types. Information may be made available to family members as well.
  • Doctors use all of the information and compare it to the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria.

Once mental health professionals are able to establish a proper diagnosis, individuals may begin the proper treatment for personality disorders. Treatment includes a mixture of mental health services and various medication options.

Treatment for Disorders of Personality

Treatment for disorders of personality includes medication management and mental health treatment services.

Medication Management

Currently, there is no specific medication or medication regimen that treats any personality disorder overall. Instead, certain medications are prescribed to provide relief for specific side effects associated with these disorders.

These medications include but are not limited to the following options:

  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
  • Topiramate (Topamax)
  • Valproate (Depacon)

Mental health professionals may substitute or add various medications to an individuals’ specific regimen, depending on the specific disorder. There are also multiple avenues pertaining to mental health services that are effective as well.

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Counseling Treatment

Psychotherapy is effective in treating the symptoms of each type of personality disorder. Discussing feelings and thoughts during talk therapy has widely been considered one of the most efficient forms of treatment.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy has also been extremely effective in many cases. This type of treatment allows individuals a chance to change negative thoughts associated with personality disorder types.

Individuals seeking treatment for personality disorders will benefit the most from crafting an individual treatment plan with mental health professionals. What are some of the most relevant areas when it comes to a personalized treatment plan?

Features of a Personalized Treatment Plan

It’s important to understand that personality disorder is highly treatable, and most people will see significant improvement after using evidence-based treatments. With that being said, creating the right personalized treatment plan is critical.

Listed below are some examples of treatment plans that meet the requirements of the DSM-5 criteria. These can provide some insight into what to expect during personality disorder treatment.

Additionally, many of these treatment plans may also be helpful in co-occurring disorders such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and substance abuse disorder.

Fear of Abandonment

  • Work towards building lasting and healthy relationships
  • Learn about crafting healthier relationships through counseling and reading various literary sources
  • Connect with family and loved ones during group counseling sessions
  • Become involved in community activities during aftercare services (animal shelters, volunteer work, etc.)
  • Engage in your favorite services or activities
  • Attend local support groups post-treatment
  • Identify cognitive distortions in relationships
  • Consider forgiving or receiving forgiveness when renewing relationships
  • Learn about various attachment styles and theories

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Unstable and Intense Relationships

  • Highlight core relationship values
  • Learn about creating healthier relationships
  • Practice validating others and validating yourself
  • Practice self-acceptance
  • Commit to safety during unsafe relationships
  • Reach out to people of importance

Impulsive Behaviors

  • Practice self-validating and self-acceptance
  • Learning how to self-soothe
  • Use relevant crisis resources
  • Create a relapse prevention plan for aftercare
  • Reach out to a sponsor, friend, therapist, or family before acting on impulse

Suicidal or Self-Harming Behaviors

  • Practice self-validation and self-acceptance
  • Learning to self-soothe
  • Make a list of reasons to stay alive
  • Creating the perfect safety plan
  • Keeping a gratitude list to increase desired emotions
  • Use coping statements when self-harm risks are high
  • Use important crisis resources
  • Read literature pertaining to healing from self-harm

Emptiness or Boredom

  • Read inspiring stories about individuals who overcame adversity
  • Learning to self-soothe
  • Using the right tools for time management
  • Volunteer somewhere once a week during aftercare
  • Practice behavioral activation
  • Create art, write, or listen to music to fulfill yourself and ease boredom

Additional elements will be added to individual treatment plans that include specific forms of behavioral therapy or medication options. Regardless of the specific course of action, you can use the following tips to promote recovery and long-term mental wellness.

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General Well-Being and Longterm Recovery

There are certain practices to engage in that promote long-term wellbeing and mental recovery from personality disorders. Use the following suggestions to promote a more positive state of mind and make continued progress during aftercare.


Exercising four to six times per week for a minimum of 20 minutes each day can garner significant results. Physical wellbeing is associated with mental health. This is an area we focus on at Icarus Behavioral Health.

Nutrition and Diet

This is another critical element during treatment at Icarus Behavioral Health. Crafting a well-balanced diet with the right nutritional elements leads to a strong mind and body. We can give you meal-prepping tips in treatment that you can carry with you after graduation.

Practice Sleep and Hygiene

Take care of yourself during and after treatment. The proper regimen of healthy sleep and attention to hygiene will lead to more positive mental states.

Refrain from Using Drugs and Alcohol

Refraining from alcohol and substance abuse is critical. Using these substances to manage emotions only leads to further complications. If you have a co-occurring disorder, we can provide the proper treatment at Icarus Behavioral Health.


When you’re emotionally exhausted, use the HALT model. “Am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?”

Support and Recovery Groups

This is one of the most critical areas of aftercare. Using support and recovery groups is important for maintaining mental wellness during aftercare. In these groups, you can gain further education and peer support to continue your success.

Contact one of our admissions specialists at Icarus Behavioral Health to find out how we can help with the challenges associated with personality disorders. We have multiple options for treatment, and with the right plan, long-term recovery and a return to normal life is possible.

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