Personality is the way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that makes a person different from other people. An individual’s personality is influenced by experiences, environment (surroundings, life situations), and inherited characteristics. A person’s personality typically stays the same over time. A personality disorder is a way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that deviates from the expectations of the culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time.
There are 10 specific types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are long-term patterns of behavior and inner experiences that differ significantly from what is expected. The pattern of experience and behavior begins in late adolescence or early adulthood and causes distress or problems in functioning. Without treatment, personality disorders can be long-lasting. Personality disorders affect at least two of these areas:
Types of Personality Disorders
Certain types of psychotherapy are effective for treating personality disorders. During psychotherapy, an individual can gain insight and knowledge about the disorder and what is contributing to symptoms and can talk about thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Psychotherapy can help a person understand the effects of their behavior on others and learn to manage or cope with symptoms and reduce behaviors causing problems with functioning and relationships. The type of treatment will depend on the specific personality disorder, how severe it is, and the individual’s circumstances.
Commonly used types of psychotherapy include:
There are no medications specifically to treat personality disorders. However, medication, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, or mood-stabilizing medication, may be helpful in treating some symptoms. More severe or long-lasting symptoms may require a team approach involving a primary care doctor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker, and family members.
In addition to actively participating in a treatment plan, some self-care and coping strategies can be helpful for people with personality disorders.
Family members can be important in an individual’s recovery and can work with the individual’s health care provider on the most effective ways to help and support. But having a family member with a personality disorder can also be distressing and stressful. Family members may benefit from talking with a mental health provider who can provide help coping with difficulties.