Personality disorders are a group of common mental conditions characterized by certain thoughts and behaviors that are often self-destructive. These conditions affect up 10 to 15 percent of people at some point in their lives, and can range from mild to life-threatening. These disorders tend to develop during childhood and are believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Symptoms of a personality disorder can vary greatly depending on the type of disorder and the affected person, but general symptoms can include:
- Mood swings
- Angry outbursts
- Social isolation
- Troubled relationships
- Lack of impulse control
- Alcohol or substance abuse
Personality disorders are usually grouped into three different clusters based on the similar effects they may have.
- Cluster A – Odd, eccentric thinking and behaviors as in paranoid and schizoid disorders
- Cluster B – Dramatic and emotional thinking and behaviors such as antisocial, narcissistic and borderline disorders
- Cluster C – Anxious and fearful thinking and behaviors as in avoidant, dependent and obsessive-compulsive disorders
If you or someone you know seems to be experiencing signs of a personality disorder, it is important to seek medical help. Personality disorders can lead to depression, abuse, violence, and even suicide.
Treatment for these disorders usually includes psychotherapy, medications, hospitalization or a combination of these. Working with a team of experienced doctors to provide full physical and emotional support is often most effective. It is important for you to work with your doctor(s) to decide which treatment is best for you and receive the best possible care.