Often called diseases in disguise, personality disorders are silent killers for the patient as well as for those around him. Broadly, personality disorders encompass conditions like abnormal thinking, mood shifts, anti-social or disruptive behavior et cetera. The aspect which makes them unique is that the patient is not aware of his problematic behavior and is oblivious of the effect it is imparting on those around him.
In medical terms, a personality disorder is a mental health condition involving disruptive patterns of thinking, behavior, and mood which are often long-lasting. In more layman’s terms, anything that differs significantly from the expected comes within the ambit of personality disorders.
A human is defined by his personality, which is a blend of his traits, thoughts, behavior, and attitudes. Our whole human interaction is based on this personality. Any personality disorder is likely to disrupt our perceptions of everything, initiating distress in our social functioning. Work, relationships along with all other aspects of human life are affected without the person realizing that he is doing something wrong.
Types of Personality Disorders
Normally personality disorders are categorized into 3 clusters, containing a total of 10 types of disorders.
Disorders associated with abnormal and eccentric thinking and behaviors are included in this cluster. It includes
- Schizoid Personality Disorder is characterized by general disinterest even in intimate relationships.
- Paranoid Personality Disorder is marked by paranoia and suspicion without reason.
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder affects the relationships of the patient as he tries to avoid them.
This cluster includes disorders displaying dramatic behaviors with intense, unstable emotions.
- Antisocial Personality Disorder shows disregard for anything socially accepted. Whether law or norms.
- Histrionic Personality Disorder is marked by a distorted self-image.
- Borderline Personality Disorder shows symptoms of low self-esteem, mood swings, and difficulties in relationships.
Cluster C is characterized by severe anxiety and fear among patients.
- Dependent Personality Disorder is marked by over-dependence on others. Patients display the need for constant caring along with submissiveness and inability to take a decision.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder includes symptoms of extreme perfectionism and control.
- Avoidant Personality Disorder patients avoid social interaction due to the fear of being negatively judged.
Upon the suspicion of a personality disorder, the patient is diagnosed thoroughly. The doctor determines which is the best way for diagnosis but two procedures are most common.
- Psychiatric Evaluation is where a patient’s inner thoughts and feelings are judged to form an opinion.
- Physical Exam that includes lab tests and screening tests for diagnosis.
The treatment of any personality disorder is highly subjective and depends on several factors including the type of disorder, your environment, the severity of the problem et cetera. Hence borderline personality disorder treatment is quite different from the treatment of any other disorder and also varies from patient to patient of the same disorder.
For best results, a team approach is preferred over an individualistic approach, addressing social needs in addition to psychic ones. As these disorders are often long-term, the treatments require patience.
For more information on suicide and personality disorder, see this related article.