Personality disorders are a category of mental disorders that are characterized by rigid and unhealthy patterns of thinking, behaving, and functioning. The most well-known personality disorders include obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder. There is a wide range of personality disorders, with most being found in teenagers and young adults.
Deciding which treatment is best for you will depend on your individual situation – this includes which personality disorder you are diagnosed with, how severe it is, and your life circumstances.
There are three main types of treatment for most personality disorders, and your doctor might recommend one, or a combination of several. These include psychotherapy, medications, and hospitalization.
This is the most common treatment for personality disorders, and it generally consists of meeting with a mental health professional to learn about your condition and talk about things like your feelings, behaviors, mood, and general thoughts.
Psychotherapy can completed on an individual basis or in a group setting that might even include family and friends. Depending on your condition, one form of psychotherapy might be better suited for you than others. The goal of psychotherapy is to regulate your thoughts and emotions. This is achieved by learning healthy and effective ways to manage the symptoms of your disorder and reduce the behaviors that get in the way having of functional relationships.
There is no single medication that is designed and approved to specifically treat personality disorders, but there are drugs that treat individual personality disorders. For example, antidepressants can be used for moodiness, anger, impulsiveness, and irritability that can be symptomatic of many personality disorders. In the same vein, mood stabilizers can also be used to reduce these kinds of behaviors.
Neuroleptics or antipsychotic medications are helpful for patients who have trouble with psychosis (losing touch with reality), anxiety, and some anger problems. Anti-anxiety medications are sometimes avoided for personality disorders since in some cases they can increase impulsive behaviors, but sometimes they can be helpful for symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia.
If your personality disorder causes you to not be able to care for yourself, or if you are perceived as being in immediate danger of harming others or yourself, you might require psychiatric hospitalization. Usually, a hospital stay will help you to reach stability in your condition, in which case your doctor will probably recommend other options for your future. These might include residential programs, day hospital programs, or outpatient treatments.
For your treatment plan to be the most effective at managing your condition, active participation on your part is necessary. Educate yourself as much as possible about your disorder so you know what to reasonably expect for your future. Stay motivated by setting goals for yourself and working toward achieving these goals by attending all of your therapy sessions and taking all medications specifically as directed by your doctor. Even if you start feeling better, never stop treatments, as this could quickly cause your symptoms to return.
Exercise and physical activity can also help with managing some symptoms. Activities such as walking, jogging, swimming, or gardening can all minimize depression, stress, and anxiety. Avoiding drugs and alcohol is also imperative for the most effective treatment of personality disorders – these substances can interact with some medications or worsen certain symptoms.