There are ten different types of personality disorders, each of which has its own unique challenges and symptoms. Some can blend together, and some do not get as much coverage as others.
A personality disorder is a mental illness characterised by problems relating to other people. Although they are not discussed as frequently as other mental health conditions, it is estimated that personality disorders affect approximately one in every twenty people in the UK.
Currently, psychiatrists group personality disorders into three categories:
Each condition has its own set of signs and symptoms. If someone meets the criteria for more than one personality disorder, they may be diagnosed with a mixed personality disorder. However, if somebody does not meet the full criteria for a personality disorder, they could receive a diagnosis of personality disorder not otherwise specified (PD-NOS).
There is a strong stigma around personality disorders. Some people assume that everyone with a personality disorder is violent or disturbed, but in truth, those with personality disorders are more likely to hurt themselves than other people.
Suspicious Personality Disorders
Also known as cluster A personality disorders, these conditions are defined by behaviours perceived as suspicious, strange, or detached.
Paranoid Personality Disorder
Those with paranoid personality disorder often harbour intense paranoid thoughts. They can find it incredibly difficult to confide in their friends and family and struggle with trusting other people.
Paranoid personality disorder can also lead people to see danger and threats in everyday life and around every corner. This can impact people’s lives severely, leading to them isolate themselves in response to these perceived threats.
Schizoid Personality Disorder
Schizoid personality disorder differs from schizophrenia in that it does not often come with psychotic symptoms. However, symptoms can include:
- Having difficulty relating to others
- Not experiencing pleasure from activities
- Finding relationships difficult
- Preferring to be alone most of the time
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Schizotypal personality disorder is characterised by distorted thoughts, perceptions, and expressions that others may find odd. Although everybody has quirks, symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder include:
- Finding close relationships incredibly difficult
- Using unusual words or phrases that make it difficult to relate to others
- A belief that they have special powers such as mind-reading
- Feeling anxious when people do not share these beliefs
Emotional and Impulsive Personality Disorders
These personality disorders – also known as cluster B disorders – are typified by dramatic and erratic actions.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Those with antisocial personality disorder display symptoms such as:
- Jumping into risky situations without considering the needs or feelings of other people
- Doing things even though they hurt other people
- Having a lack of empathy
- Behaving in ways that are unpleasant to others
Histrionic Personality Disorder
Everybody loves compliments, but those with histrionic personality disorder depend very heavily on being noticed in a positive light. They become uncomfortable when they are not the centre of attention and constantly seek the approval of others. Sometimes, they may act out or dress provocatively to retain attention.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
It is normal to want others to be aware of our achievements and abilities. However, when this need is extreme and affects how people relate to others, they may be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. Other symptoms include:
- Believing that there are special reasons that make them better than others
- Becoming upset if other people ignore them or don’t pay them enough attention
- Demanding that other people put their needs above their own
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
Those with borderline personality disorder often struggle with their emotions and reactions. Their feelings often change very quickly, and they can struggle with maintaining their relationships.
People with BPD also have an intense fear of abandonment, worrying that their loved ones will leave them. They may act in strange or extreme ways to prevent this from happening and act impulsively to try and cope with their fears.
Anxious Personality Disorders
People with anxious (or cluster C) personality disorders experience constant anxiety.
Avoidant Personality Disorder
It is common to be anxious and want to avoid certain social situations. However, people may be diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder if they exhibit extreme symptoms such as:
- Worrying about being rejected by their social circle
- Avoiding intimacy and relationships out of a fear of rejection
- Being reluctant to try anything new as they don’t want to embarrass themselves
- Avoiding activities in which they would need to be with others
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)
This personality disorder is separate from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as OCD is a behaviour, not a personality type. People with OCPD have a strong need for control, setting themselves unrealistically high standards and being convinced that their way of doing things is the best.
If things aren’t what they class as right, people with OCPD feel incredibly anxious and struggle with flexibility in how they think about things.
Dependent Personality Disorder
People with dependent personality disorder are often overwhelmed with the need for other people to care for them. They may show symptoms such as:
- Being unable to make decisions or function daily without help from others
- Thinking that everyone else is much more capable than they are
- Having low self-confidence
- Allowing others to be responsible for many areas of their life
Treatment for Personality Disorders
Many people, especially young adults, may be scared if they receive a personality disorder diagnosis. However, there are many effective treatments available.
Evidence-based treatment options at The Wave include:
- Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT)
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Interpersonal therapy
- Family-focused therapy
- Animal-assisted therapy
Although there are no approved medications to treat personality disorders, other medications, including antidepressants, mood stabilisers, and anti-anxiety medication, can help teenagers manage their symptoms.
As personality disorders can cause problems in relationships, young adults can also benefit from social skills training. This training helps young adults learn how to manage their relationships and function better in everyday life.
Personality disorders are more common than you may think. A personality disorder usually begins to develop during adolescence and, if left untreated, can damage a teenager’s relationships, identity, and emotional intelligence.
Personality disorders can be challenging to deal with for both teenagers and families. That’s where The Wave steps in. We provide treatment plans for personality disorders at our luxury residential facility in Malaysia. Our team of expert clinicians and practitioners will devise a personalised treatment plan for your child that will address the unique issues that they face and provide them with a safe space to focus on healing and growing.
Fiona Yassin is the International Clinical Director of The Wave Clinic. Fiona is a UK Registered Adolescent and Family Psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor (Licence number #361609 NCP/ICP), further trained in the specialty of Eating Disorders and Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment. Fiona is trained in FBT (Family Based Therapy), CBTE for eating disorders, FREED (King’s College, London), EMDR for eating disorders (EMDRIA) and has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Neuroscience and Trauma from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Fiona works with international families and family offices from the UK, Dubai, Kuwait, Singapore and Malaysia. Fiona can be contacted by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.