Signs & Symptoms of Personality Disorders

Understanding Personality Disorder

Learn About Personality Disorder

An individual who suffers from a personality disorder can experience a great deal of stress and turmoil if treatment is not sought. A history of trauma can trigger an increase in the severity of one’s personality disorder symptoms. In many cases, the effects of personality disorders can cause complications in every day functioning, and may hamper an individual’s attempts to reach his or her greatest potential. For many, a personality disorder occurs alongside other mental health conditions, such as substance use disorders.

Some of the most common personality disorders include:

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: This condition is marked by an irrational standard of perfectionism. For instance, an individual who battles obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is more likely to continuously re-check things to ensure that nothing goes wrong. This might include making endless lists, reviews, schedules, or phone calls. This disorder can quickly become a block to one’s functioning and activity.

Avoidant personality disorder: Those who have avoidant personality disorder experience feelings of extreme insecurity and unreasonable fear of being by themselves. In attempt to avoid the “danger” that comes with fear of being rejected, such as through disapproval or abandonment, individuals with this disorder will avoid situations in which they feel uncertain.

Schizoid personality disorder: Someone with schizoid personality disorder prefers isolation and attempts to cut out contact from the outside world. He or she might say that he or she is unable to feel emotion. Usually, an individual such as this will also find it impossible to express emotion, and will not show a need for sharing affection or contact, which causes him or her to sink deeper into an isolated life.

Antisocial personality disorder: The extreme behavior of someone with antisocial personality disorder is typically immoral, violent, and aggressive. An adult who is antisocial will continue to act out in a manner that brings harm to others even when faced with the threat of extreme punishment. This disorder removes a person’s ability to view the effects that his or her actions have on society, leading him or her to behave as though he or she has a weak or nonexistent conscious.

Narcissistic personality disorder: Relationships are almost impossible to manage for an individual who has narcissistic personality disorder, as it tends to make an individual highly selfish. An individual with this condition will display a lack of empathy while expecting others to admire his or her every move. Even though he or she produces no action worthy of praise, there is an expectation that others must recognize him or her. He or she will likely look to take advantage of others wherever possible, however wants everyone around him or her to believe that he or she is special.

Borderline personality disorder: This type of disorder makes an individual feel as though he or she is of little value in the eyes of others. When he or she does obtain the care of another individual, he or she tends to become highly attached. The emotional instability that develops can lead to mood swings and unpredictable behaviors. Some decisions, appearing rash and impulsive, can serve as attempts for attention. An individual with borderline personality disorder might be inclined to hurt him or herself and will likely have trouble being left alone.

Dependent personality disorder: It is extremely challenging for an individual with dependent personality disorder to feel confident on his or her own, so that individual often seeks excessive advice and support from others when attempting to make decisions of all kinds. He or she might feel as though everything is out of his or her control. There is an inability to take action to improve upon situations that could be easily managed. Such an individual will be inclined to make negative comments regarding his or her self-reflection and might limit his or her relationships to only those that he or she feels are dependable.

Histrionic personality disorder: This disorder causes an individual to overrate his or her own emotions. Some might view these individuals as immature, theatrical, or egocentric. Although these individuals may not seem to look for opportunities to do or say nice things for others, he or she will likely expect the sympathy or appreciation of all those around him or her. He or she will also tend to behave in a manner that draws attention.


Personality Disorder Statistics

Many personality disorders occur in the young adult years. Within the United States, roughly 15% of adults battle a personality disorder, according to the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

Causes & Risks

Causes and Risk Factors of Personality Disorder

There are numerous factors that increase one’s risk of developing a personality disorder:

Genetics: If a child has a biological parent who suffers from a personality disorder but is raised by adoptive parents who do not suffer from mental health concerns, this child still possesses an increased risk for developing a personality disorder. Personality disorders are connected to genetics and heredity, although the specific genetic cause has not yet been determined.

Environmental: In some instances, an individual’s ability to cope with life can be strained by environmental pressure. Past trauma and stress can make mental health disorders become worse. For some, environmental strains might trigger genetic susceptibility to developing personality disorders, or it might make symptoms appear more obvious. Some studies show that personality disorders are most common in individuals who have experienced violence or who have lived in urban areas.

Risk Factors:

  • Socioeconomic and financial state
  • Gender: Men and women are more prone to different disorders, depending on the disorder
  • Family history of personality disorder
  • History of trauma or chronic stress

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Personality Disorder

Each personality disorder is unique in its own way. However, the following symptoms are most commonly present in many of these disorders:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Acting in a way that seems strange to others
  • Getting angry or provoked easily
  • Injuring or hurting oneself
  • Rejecting certain people or situations for irrational reasons

Cognitive symptoms:

  • inability to use good judgment
  • Impulsive decision making
  • Avoiding responsibility

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Becoming angry and aggressive
  • Mood swings
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Isolating oneself
  • Low self-esteem

Lasting Effects

Effects of Personality Disorder

Treatment for any personality disorder is critical, as neglecting to obtain treatment will cause a worsening of symptoms that can lead to irreversible damage. One’s quality of life can be severely diminished if the following effects occur:

  • Suicide attempts
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Developing additional mental disorders
  • Feelings of worthlessness and/or hopelessness
  • Getting arrested
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Decreased function in the family
  • Self-injury or physically hurting others
  • Loss of ability to make responsible financial decisions
  • Loss of job or source of income
  • Inability to secure and maintain satisfying work
  • Poor relationship quality

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders

For many people who are struggling with personality disorders, the abuse of substances is a common occurrence and could lead to the development of an addiction. Given this fact, it is possible for a person to be diagnosed with a substance use disorder and a personality disorder in the event treatment is sought.

Additionally, the following conditions may also be diagnosed in someone who is suffering from these illnesses:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Additional personality disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
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My mental health suffered from my addiction and it was too much for me to deal with. With the help of my family, they admitted me to Serenity Knolls for co-occurring disorders treatment. This facility helped me tremendously.

– James W.