Firstly, diagnosis of a Personality Disorder should only be made by a qualified professional. If you think you or someone you love has a personality disorder contact your doctor. Personality disorders are conditions in which an individual differs significantly from an average person, in terms of how they think, perceive, feel or relate to others. This is ingrained in them and shows itself in all aspects of life. It leads to ‘odd’ behaviour and distorted beliefs about themselves and others.
Personality disorders have been connected to either genetics or abusive, neglectful and fearful childhoods, family factors also factor in the development of a personality disorder. Personality Disorders generally start in adolescence and continue into adulthood, like other mental health illness they may be mild, moderate or severe. People with personality disorders may have periods where they can function to societal norms, which makes this illness even more difficult to understand as symptoms can be made a lot worse when the person is under a period of stress. Personality disorders don’t generally stand alone and are often accompanied by Depression, anxiety, substance abuse or self-harm.
If you have a personality disorder, you are likely to find life quite difficult. The way you think, behave, feel is different to ‘others’ and your range of emotions are limited. This can make life difficult for you and confuse those that love you.
If you have a personality disorder, you may find that your beliefs and attitudes are different from most other people. They may find your behaviour unusual or unexpected, and may find it difficult to spend time with you. This, of course, can make you feel very hurt and insecure; you may end up avoiding the company of others. (1)
Personality disorders can be separated into 3 categories or clusters A, B, and C
• Paranoid Personality disorder
• Schizoid personality disorder
• Schizotypal personality disorder
Someone with these personality disorders have problems relating to others and may appear odd or eccentric to others.
• Antisocial personality disorder
• Borderline personality disorder
• Histrionic personality disorder
• Narcissistic personality disorder
People with these personality disorders also have problems relating to others and can be dramatic, erratic, frightening and unstable. The highest suicide rates come from this cluster.
• Avoidant personality disorder
• Dependant personality disorder
• Obsessive compulsive personality disorder (not to be confused with OCD which sufferers are aware of).
Someone with a cluster C personality disorder fears personal relationships and shows patterns of anxious and fearful behaviour around other people. Others may be withdrawn and reluctant to socialise. (2)
Personality disorders affect all aspects of the sufferer’s life. 1 in 20 people have a personality disorder, so how do you support someone with a personality disorder?
Firstly there is such a variety of symptoms and types which makes it pretty impossible to make an absolute list on how to support someone. What I will say as someone who use to suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder is, if you are a loved one of someone who has a personality disorder, although it may be challenging to live with them they are not purposely trying to hurt you. In fact most of their choices and decisions are outside of conscious decision making and it generally won’t get better until after a competent diagnosis by a professional and the correct mix of medications and therapy. It is also worth stressing that a diagnosis of a personality disorder can be very distressing and confusing as the sufferer may never have realised that he or she has a mental health illness.
If you are trying to support someone with a personality disorder check out these websites, there are support groups that will be able to help and support you.
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