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Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are a group of mental health conditions that affect how someone thinks, feels, and behaves. It often causing difficulties in everyday life and relationships. This article will discuss what personality disorders are.

In addition it will discuss their history, genetic factors, common types, symptoms, treatment options, and further resources. We'll also address specific disorders such as borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder.

What Are Personality Disorders?

Personality disorders are mental health conditions characterized by continued negative patterns of behavior. It is also defined by the thinking and inner experiences that deviate significantly from cultural expectations in the general population.

These patterns are inflexible and persistent. The patterns lead to distress or impairment in social, job employment, or other areas of functioning. There are several types of disorders dealing with personality, often categorized into clusters.

History of These Disorders

The concept of these disorders has evolved over time. Early descriptions date back to ancient Greece. However, it was not until the 20th century that the modern understanding of these disorders developed.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), first published in 1952, provided a formal classifying system. Since then, the DSM has been updated several times. Each time it has refined the definitions and criteria for diagnosing these disorders.

DNA Strand

Genetic Factors

Genetics play a significant risk factor in the development of these disorders. Studies suggest that these disorders can run in families, indicating a genetic component. However, environmental factors such as childhood trauma, abuse, medical conditions, and neglect also contribute significantly to the development of these disorders. Anxiety or depression may also contribute to the development of these disorders.

Common Types of Personality Disorders

These disorder types are grouped into three "clusters". The clusters are based on similarities and symptoms:

Cluster A Personality Disorders (Odd or Eccentric Disorders)

  1. Paranoid Personality Disorder: Characterized by distrust and suspicion of others.

  2. Schizoid Personality Disorder: Involves detachment from social relationships and a limited range of emotions.

  3. Schizotypal Personality Disorder: Includes eccentric behavior, distorted thinking, and discomfort in close relationships.

Cluster B Personality Disorders (Dramatic, Emotional, or Erratic Disorders)

  1. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): Symptoms of BPD feature intense mood swings, unstable relationships, and impulsive behavior. It is often confused with bipolar disorder. However, there are distinct differences between borderline personality disorder vs. bipolar disorder. A healthcare professional can have you take tests to see which you have.

  2. Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Involves a grandiose sense of self-importance, need for admiration, and lack of empathy.

  3. Histrionic Personality Disorder: Characterized by excessive emotions and attention-seeking behavior.

  4. Antisocial Personality Disorder: Includes disregard for the rights of others, deceitful behavior, and a lack of remorse.

Cluster C (Anxious or Fearful Disorders)

  1. Avoidant Personality Disorder: It often involves feelings of not being good enough, very sensitive to negative evaluation, and avoidance of social interaction.

  2. Dependent Personality Disorder: Characterized by a pervasive need to be taken care of, leading to submissive and clinging behavior.

  3. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD): Involves absorbed thought with orderliness, wanting to be perfect, and control.

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Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of mental health problems can vary. They may include trouble with thinking, emotions, controlling impulses, and interacting with others. Diagnosis typically involves a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional, which may include personality disorder tests and assessments.

  • Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms: Intense emotional swings, fear of abandonment, unstable relationships, impulsivity, self-harm.

  • Multiple Personality Disorder Symptoms: Now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder, involves the presence of two or more distinct personality states.

Treatment Options

The treatment plan often involves a combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Many people will seek treatment on these own, depending on the type of personality problem they have. Specific effective treatments include:

  1. Therapy: Various forms of psychotherapy are effective for treating these personality traits. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), group therapy, and schema-focused therapy are commonly used. Therapy for narcissistic types, for example, focuses on addressing underlying self-esteem issues and improving empathy.

  2. Medication: No medications are specifically approved for these disorders. However, certain medications can help manage symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and mood swings. BPD medication might include medicines for depression or mood stabilizers.

  3. Lifestyle Changes: Improving sleep, exercise, and diet can have a positive impact on managing symptoms.


Outcomes depend upon which disorder an individual has along with their willingness to seek help. With appropriate treatment, many people can manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. Early intervention and ongoing support are crucial for improving outcomes. Additionally, their commitment to participating in treatment can also play a role in their outlook.


Mental illnesses involving personality traits are complex mental health conditions that require a thorough understanding and comprehensive treatment approach. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking appropriate help is essential for managing these disorders effectively. If you or someone you know is struggling with a disorder, don't hesitate to reach out. Our licensed mental health professionals are ready to support you.

Learning more about these disorders can help you access the right resources. Together, we can work to support those affected by these conditions and promote mental well-being for everyone.


  1. If you or someone you know might have a mental illness, these resources can help:

  2. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Provides comprehensive information on BPD, including symptoms, treatment options, and current research. NIMH BPD Information

  3. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Offers educational resources, support groups, and advocacy for individuals with mental health conditions. NAMI BPD Information

  4. Mental Health America (MHA): Provides support and resources for those living with mental health conditions. Mental Health America BPD Resources

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