Presented by BetterHelp.
Personality disorders are a series of mental health conditions that impact various parts of someone’s life relating to career, attachment, and emotional regulation, especially connected to relationships. Many personality disorders make it hard for someone to find the right career, connect deeply with others, and even function emotionally in their day-to-day life.
If you want to learn more about personality disorders and how they work, read on to learn about the top five most common personality disorders and their symptoms.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Probably one of the most well-known personality disorders in the world, borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a disorder classified by extreme emotions, emotional dysregulation, unhealthy coping mechanisms, manipulative behaviors, and difficulty with relationships and loss.
Many psychologists these days argue that BPD is simply an extreme form of complex PTSD and is not actually its own disorder since many people with BPD have experienced trauma. However, it is currently a diagnosis in the DSM, which is the diagnostic manual for mental health.
The symptoms of BPD include:
- Feeling intense emotions that change quickly and frequently
- Fear of real or imagined loss
- Difficulty in relationships (especially romantic ones)
- Risky behaviors such as risky or unsafe sex, drug and alcohol use, and shoplifting (among others)
- Irritability or quick anger
- Self-harm and suicidal thoughts/attempts
- Attention-seeking behaviors (reassurance-seeking)
- A lack of understanding of the personality
- Feeling dissociated or “zoning out”
One of the biggest hurdles for people with BPD is the feelings of disconnect and attachment issues that come with relationships. Many people may find themselves often becoming extremely distraught with partners for fear of losing them, even going as far as cutting the person out of their life and then going back on it when they realize it’s not what they wanted to do.
To get help for borderline personality disorder, the best option is DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) and trauma therapy. Both of these types of therapy are available online or in-person, and some DBT practices can be done in support group-type settings.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic personality disorder is part of the same group of personality disorders as BPD, called the Cluster B disorders.
It is characterized by intense self-focus and a lack of empathy and understanding toward others. It is often accompanied by other distressing symptoms as well. Some of the most common include:
- A lack of empathy
- Grandiosity and narcissism
- An increased sense of self-importance
- Inability to handle criticism
- Disregarding the feelings of others
- Social isolation
- A need for social praise or admiration
Often, those with NPD are unaware that they have it and will often be reluctant to seek help due to the stigma of the condition, as well as the symptoms. NPD is also formed from trauma but can also come up for no apparent reason. For those that struggle with NPD and know they have it, intensive therapy is one of the best cures.
Although some psychologists argue that there is no cure for personality disorders, there have been cases of people improving and managing symptoms with time and extensive treatment.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
An antisocial personality disorder may sometimes mistakenly be called “sociopathy” and can even look like some of the other personality disorders if not seen by a trained eye. It involves a lack of social effort, feelings of emptiness, as well as overall aloofness.
The most common symptoms of this disorder include:
- Preferring to remain alone all the time
- Having no interest in social activity or other people’s lives
- Only being interested in the self
- A lack of empathy
- Hostility or anger
- Risky behaviors
- Drug and alcohol use
- Disregard for their own safety and the safety of others
To get help for this condition, one must know that they are experiencing it. Being able to get a diagnosis early and work with a therapist trained in the condition is the best bet.
Dependent Personality Disorder
Dependent personality disorder, or DPD, is a personality disorder characterized by extreme dependence in relationships, whether romantic or not. Many times, these people are unable to be interdependent or independent in relationships.
Those with the condition struggle to be alone, work by themselves, or form their own thoughts and emotions. They may intertwine their identity with other people’s identities. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- A difficulty being alone
- A need for a romantic relationship all of the time
- Lack of confidence and sense of self
- Difficulty making decisions
- Basing self-worth on the opinions of others
- Fear of losing those they love
- A need for validation
This personality disorder can sometimes be confused for an attachment disorder or PTSD, so it’s important to see someone that is well-versed in trauma treatment to get the proper diagnosis. Dependency is a common symptom in those who have gone through abuse in their childhood with a caregiver.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Finally, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a disorder that is very similar to OCD but is ingrained in the personality and is often harder to cure than OCD. The symptoms of this condition include:
- Restriction of emotions and emotional capacity
- Obsessive thoughts and intrusive thoughts
- Increased need for order and routine
- Compulsions of any type
- Rigidity with rules
- Inability to accept change
- Extreme perfectionism
- Intense, immovable opinions
OCPD can look very similar to autism and OCD, so it’s important to get a diagnosis from someone who has experience treating all three. OCPD is not as common as other personality disorders, and it takes a while to get diagnosed.
If you have OCPD, there is a new therapy based on DBT that you can try called RO-DBT, which is focused on treatment for those with OCPD and autism who experience difficulty with change and non-rigid patterns of thinking.
Now you know more about the different personality disorder types. Remember, there are quite a few personality disorders, and not all are listed here. If you want to learn about the other types or learn more about personality disorders in general, check out BetterHelp’s amazing advice column here: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/personality-disorders/.