Personality Disorders

Someone with a personality disorder has unhealthy patterns of thinking, functioning and behaving and has trouble perceiving and relating to situations and people. Personality disorders can have a negative impact on relationships, social activities, work and school, disrupting the lives of not only those with the disorder but the ones who love and care for them as well.

What are the related symptoms?

There are different types of personality disorders, each with their own category and set of symptoms.
The types of may include:

  • Antisocial personality disorder: categorised by a pattern of disregard for the rights of others. Individuals with this personality disorder may not conform to social norms, repeatedly lie or deceive others and act impulsively.
  • Avoidant personality disorder: a pattern of extreme shyness, feelings of inadequacy and extreme sensitivity to criticism. These people may be unwilling to get involved with people unless they are certain of being liked; they are preoccupied with criticism and rejection and view themselves as socially inept.
  • Borderline personality disorder: this disorder is categorised by instability in personal relationships, intense emotions, poor self-image and impulsivity. They will go to great lengths to avoid being abandoned, have tried to commit suicide before and display inappropriate, intense anger or emptiness.
  • Dependent personality disorder: these individuals are clingy, feel that they need to be taken care of, have difficulty making decisions without reassurance and feel helpless alone.
  • Histrionic personality disorder: symptoms of excessive emotion and attention seeking. They need to be the centre of attention even if it means using exaggerated emotions or physical appearance to draw attention to themselves.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder: a person with a narcissistic personality disorder may have a grandiose sense of self-importance, need for admiration, a sense of entitlement, take advantage of others or lack empathy for others.
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: this disorder is not the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder. These individuals have a preoccupation with orderliness, perfection and control; they are overly focused on details or schedules, allowing no time for leisure or friends and are inflexible in their morality and values.
  • Paranoid personality disorder: people with paranoid personality disorder are suspicious of other and believe they are mean or spiteful, out to harm or deceive them, they also don't confide in others or become close to others.
  • Schizoid personality disorder: these individuals are detached from social relationships, not seeking close relationships and chooses to be alone. They express little emotion and don't seem to care about praise or criticism from others.
  • Schizotypal personality disorder: a pattern of being very uncomfortable in close relationships, having distorted thinking, eccentric or odd behaviour or speech and may have excessive social anxiety.

For many people, their way of thinking and behaving seems so natural and normal that they may not realise they may have a personality disorder fuelling their behaviour. As the diagnosis of these conditions may be complex, they can only be made by a psychiatrist or psychologist. If you suspect you or a loved one may be suffering from a personality disorder, it is essential to seek help from a mental health professional like Dr Chawane who may assist in treatment.

What can cause a personality disorder to develop?

Since personality forms during childhood, it is shaped by genes and environment. This may include events that occurred, relationships with family members and other experiences during childhood. Personality disorders are thought to be caused by a combination of these genetic and environmental influences, often triggered by a particular situation beginning to show in the teenage years or early adulthood. People under 18 are typically not diagnosed with these disorders because their personalities are still developing, so they are only diagnosed for those over the age of 18 years old.

Because personality disorders can disrupt the lives of both the individual and those around him or her, these disorders require treatment and management from a psychiatrist like Dr Chawane before the behaviour fuelled by these disorders causes severe consequences.

What are the possible treatment options?

If the above symptoms resonate with you or you feel that the behaviour of someone you love may be questionable at times, it is essential to see a medical professional like a psychiatrist to make a proper diagnosis as the diagnosis process can be complex. In addition, many people who suffer from personality disorders feel alone and alienated and once diagnosed are able to change those feelings and feel that they can achieve a life worth living.

With her expertise as a psychiatrist, Dr Chawane can make an accurate diagnosis and help plan the best treatment options specifically for you. While there is no specific medication for these disorders, medications like antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication or mood stabilising medication may be helpful in treating some of the symptoms. Psychotherapeutic approaches are known to be effective in treating personality disorders. By gaining insight into their diagnosis, knowing what is contributing to symptoms and talking about the effects of their behaviour on others can help individuals with personality disorders understand their symptoms, manage their behaviour and enhance their relationships with others. During therapy, your psychologist or psychiatrist can also assist in teaching self-care and coping strategies.

Since some individuals may experience more severe or long-lasting symptoms, along with therapy and medication, Dr Chawane may need to refer you to other members of her multidisciplinary team consisting of a clinical and counselling psychologist, occupational therapist and social workers.