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Personality disorders affect a larger population of individuals than you might think. In fact, around 14.9% of Americans fit the criteria of at least one personality disorder. How can you tell if you or a family member has a personality disorder? Watch out for these early signs of personality disorders.

Identifying the Symptoms Early Can Be Life-Changing

If you seek out a mental health professional early enough, it can vastly improve your quality of life if you are diagnosed with a personality disorder. Untreated personality disorders can damage your self-esteem, relationships, and other aspects of your life. In severe cases, it can also lead to suicidal behavior. Consequently, the first step to finding a diagnosis is knowing how to recognize the early signs of personality disorders.

What Is a Personality Disorder?

early signs of personality disorder

According to The American Psychiatric Association, a personality disorder is defined as “a way of thinking, feeling and behaving that deviates from the expectations of the culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time”.  Specifically, there are 10 types you should know about.

Since the number of personality disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is expansive, personality disorders can look different depending on the individual. Personality disorders are mental health issues that affect your everyday function and can negatively impact nearly all facets of your life. Additionally, these effects include a wide variety of cognitive issues and harmful behaviors.

You are most likely to discover a personality disorder in late childhood or early adulthood. Unfortunately, many people don’t recognize the early signs of personality disorders because they believe their thoughts are “normal”. One early sign is a lack of trust towards other people. Generally, people with personality disorders may find distrust with others when they:

  • Feel their behavior affects their relationships
  • Believe that people in their life don’t understand them
  • Can’t relate to others the way they would like to
  • Get negative feedback or criticism from others

Due to the broad range of personality disorders, the key to early diagnosis is to look at personality disorders individually rather than as a group. You do not have to identify with all the signs and symptoms to have a disorder, and you may even identify with multiple disorders.

Everyone can have self-destructive behaviors from time to time, but the mark of a personality disorder is repeatedly acting in these harmful ways.

Identifying Different Types of Personality Disorders

Personality disorders can come in many shapes and forms. A personality disorder in one person may look very different in someone else. Generally, your personality, environment, and type(s) of disorder all contribute to how your personality disorder manifests.

In particular, each personality disorder is put into one of three categories: unusual or unconventional behavior (Cluster A), dramatic or over-emotional behavior (Cluster B) and anxious or fear-based behavior (Cluster C). These clusters and personality disorders do not define who you are, but they provide a good basis for a long-term diagnosis.

Cluster A

Common signs of these disorders arise around early adulthood, and they are more likely to appear in men than in women.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

Symptoms of paranoid personality disorder may include:

  • Distrust, especially the belief that people want to harm you
  • Grudge-holding
  • Unwillingness to see the good in others or their motives
  • Coldness and distance from others
  • Shifting the blame and seeing their way as the right way
  • Angry or violent behavior in unwarranted situations
  • Consistently holding the belief that their spouse is unfaithful

Schizoid Personality Disorder

Someone with a schizoid personality disorder may:

  • Draw-back from others, in particular with a loner personality
  • Struggle with close personal relationships
  • Be prone to daydreaming
  • Lack a desire for sexual contact
  • Not easily accept compliments or constructive criticism
  • Tend to be drawn to jobs in solitude
  • Exhibit an inability to express emotions

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Symptoms include:

  • A tendency to overanalyze situations and as a result strain their relationships
  • Discomfort with close relationships
  • Odd way of speaking, dressing, or behaving. People might describe this person as “strange.”
  • Signs of depression and anxiety
  • Manifesting emotions in a way that seems strange to others
  • Unique experiences that others have trouble understanding or relating to
  • A belief that they have a supernatural influence on others

Schizotypal personality disorder often appears more in men than in women. That said, you should still consult with a mental health provider if you are a woman and experience these symptoms.

Cluster B

Antisocial Personality Disorder

These symptoms include:

  • Violent behavior
  • Disregard for others
  • Problems with authority or the law
  • Issues with keeping a stable job
  • Frequent isolation and solitude

Borderline Personality Disorder

People with BPD may suffer from:

  • Impulsive behavior
  • Unstable relationships
  • Suicidal attempts
  • Mood swings and stress-induced lack of reality
  • Feelings of emptiness and hopelessness
  • Intense spurts of anger and mood swings

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Common symptoms include:

  • Enjoying being the center of attention and often uncomfortable if they’re not
  • Manipulating others
  • Dressing provocatively
  • Sensitive to constructive criticism or in general
  • Showing a lack of concern for others
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Strong opinions, with a lack of evidence to support beliefs
  • Mood swings
  • Swayed easily, especially by other’s opinions

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

In particular, watch out for:

  • Strong sense of self-importance
  • No empathy for others
  • Envious personality traits
  • Arrogance or belief that they are better than everyone
  • Longing for excessive admiration
  • Hyperbolize their lives to uplift their image

Cluster C

Avoidant Personality Disorder

People with this disorder may:

  • Avoid social situations and as a result, tend to be shy
  • Have Low self-esteem
  • Lack social abilities
  • Often feel inept
  • Sensitive to criticism
  • Fear of rejection
  • Highly self-critical

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

While similar to OCD, this disorder contains some key differences. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which is a disorder based around anxiety, is not a personality disorder. Because OCD rarely affects how someone treats or thinks of others, it is not classified as a personality disorder. OCPD symptoms include:

  • Need for order and cleanliness
  • Unwilling to receive help from others
  • Follows a strict ethical or moral code
  • Hoarding
  • Rigid control over spending and finances
  • Strong and strict attention to detail and rules

Dependent Personality Disorder

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Fear of separation
  • Need for reassurance from others
  • Avoids responsibility
  • Tendency to accept abuse and mistreatment from others
  • Sensitive to feedback
  • Negative outlook on life
  • Belief that they cannot take care of themselves

Seek Professional Help

early signs of personality disorderSeeking professional help is extremely important. If you identify with one or more disorder on this list, speak to a doctor right away.

If your personality disorder remains untreated, it could have dire and long-lasting effects on your personal relationships. However, while a personality disorder may affect your day-to-day life, it’s not a life sentence. Use these early signs of personality disorders to get the help that you need.

We can help you

Port St. Lucie Hospital specializes in mental health services and is located on 20 acres near the beautiful Savannas Preserve. If you or one of your loved ones is struggling with a mental health disorder, we can help. Our 24-hour mental health services are provided by licensed professionals in various disciplines. We tailor our programs to our patient’s needs and will help you every step of the way.

We welcome you to our facility. From support groups to individual therapy treatment options, we are here to fight the battle with you. Reach out to us online today. You can also call us at 772-408-5871.

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