Personality Disorders

Taking a closer look at some of the least understood mental health conditions and examining their causes and symptoms.

Table of Contents

What are Personality Disorders?

Personality disorders are classified as mental health conditions that can significantly impact the person struggling with one of these disorders. People with these disorders may experience rigid and unhealthy patterns of thinking. This distorted thinking can present challenges in people’s daily lives.

Symptoms of these mental health conditions typically begin during early adulthood or adolescence.1 Many people who struggle with these disorders cannot identify their own symptoms. Therefore, it is essential for loved ones and mental health professionals to assess the person’s mental and behavioral health.

Finding out more information about these conditions can help people make informed decisions about their treatment. There are various treatments that can help people struggling with these disorders live happier and healthier lives.

People who show signs of a personality disorder should seek the help of a mental health professional. There are specific treatments that can be effective at treating these conditions. However, receiving the proper treatment for the related disorder is essential.

Causes of Personality Disorders

There are a few causes associated with personality disorders. However, it is crucial to understand that each person is different, and the circumstances of their condition may also be different. Therefore, it is essential to talk to a mental health provider to further explore some potential causes of these conditions.

These types of mental health disorders remain one of the least understood mental health conditions. However, mental health experts have identified a few potential causes for these disorders and patterns of disordered thinking.

Most of the information about the causes of personality disorders is still developing. People may experience distorted thinking and behavior for unknown reasons. Treatment is typically based on the type of mental illness the person is struggling with.

Types of Personality Disorders

There are three categories used to identify types of personality disorders. Each group is referred to as a cluster. Disorders are placed into one of three categories based on the unifying characteristics of the disorders. Personality disorders can be classified as Cluster A, B, or C.

Cluster A personality disorders are characterized by abnormal thinking and behaviors. People with these Cluster A disorders are often described as eccentric. Personality disorders in this group include paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders. 1

Cluster B personality disorders are typically characterized by dramatic thought and behavioral patterns. People who struggle with Cluster B disorders can also show unpredictable thinking and behavior. These disorders include antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders. 3

Anxious thoughts and reactive behaviors characterize Cluster C personality disorders. People struggling with these disorders may come off as fearful or as having constant anxiety. Disorders in Cluster C include avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders. 1

To better understand the characteristics of the specific disorders, it is essential to examine each disorder on its own. It is also important to note that all people are different and may display various signs and symptoms associated with personality disorders.

Here are brief descriptions of each of the ten identified personality disorders:

Antisocial Personality Disorder

People with Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) typically struggle with socializing and relating to others. They experience symptoms that indicate they cannot understand the thoughts or feelings of others. As a result, they have difficulty relating to others and empathizing with feelings.

Some of the symptoms associated with ASPD include: 4

Talk therapy and medication are the best course of treatment for ASPD. People who show these symptoms should seek support from a mental health professional that can help provide the best treatment. ASPD can be diagnosed in childhood, and treatment can start early. 4

Avoidant Personality Disorder

There are many signs and symptoms that are commonly associated with Avoidant Personality Disorder (AVPD). People struggling with AVPD may also be diagnosed with other mental health conditions like anxiety or depression. AVPD is characterized by extreme shyness or sensitivity to outside criticism. 5

It is important to note that AVPD is different from a social anxiety disorder. However, many of the symptoms are similar. Many people with AVPD do not seek treatment for the condition.

Typically a certain event or challenge pushes people with this disorder to seek treatment and the support they need. Medication and therapy can help people with this condition live happier lives.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Approximately 1.4% of the adult population struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). 6 This disorder is more common in women than it is in men. People with BPD can struggle with a variety of symptoms. BPD can impact many areas of a person’s life, such as behaviors, emotions, relationships, self-image, and thinking patterns.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder include: 6

BPD can be treated with various treatment approaches and medication. Therapeutic treatment for the condition involves Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and group therapy. Medication can also help people struggling with symptoms of BPD.

Dependent Personality Disorder

Dependent Personality Disorder is characterized by a person’s lack of ability to function without another person. People with this condition rely on others to meet their emotional and physical needs. Therefore, people with DPD may face challenges accomplishing tasks and thriving in their daily life. They lack confidence and tend to appear very clingy to others which can create relationship problems.

Symptoms of DPD may include fear of being alone, avoiding initiative and responsibility, sensitivity to criticism, and lack of their own opinions. Therapy can help people find relief from some of these symptoms and patterns of behavior.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

People with Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) often show signs of excessive attention-seeking behaviors. When someone is struggling with HPD, they have difficulty not being the center of attention. They may also appear as over dramatic and emotional to those around them. Their overly dramatic behavior and reactions can cause problems in their personal and professional life.

Effective treatment for this condition includes various forms of talk therapy and certain mental health medications. 3 With the support of mental health professionals, people with HPD can learn healthy coping skills.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is characterized by a sense of self-importance and an elevated sense of self-image. People with NPD will have challenges feeling empathy towards others and tend to take advantage of others. They struggle to sustain healthy relationships with others and have a unique sense of entitlement.

There is no treatment for NPD that has been proven to be effective. However, therapy and medications can help people with awareness and coping with symptoms.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

People with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) tend to focus highly on orderliness and routines. They may also be preoccupied with control and perfection, which can negatively affect relationships with others. The name is similar to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD); however, it is not the same condition. 3

Treatment for OCPD includes talk therapy to help people learn healthy coping skills and manage their symptoms. Some mental health professionals may also recommend certain medications to help manage symptoms.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD) is commonly characterized by being overly suspicious of other people and their motivations. 7 They may assume that people will intentionally harm them or are out to get them. Their paranoia can even reach close personal relationships like family and close friends.

The condition impacts 2.3%-4.4% of the adult U.S. population. Talk therapy can help people with PPD manage their paranoid thoughts and feelings. Certain mental health medications can also help people manage their thoughts and symptoms.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

People who struggle with Schizoid Personality Disorder may appear detached from personal relationships. They may also have difficulty expressing emotions to others and avoid certain feelings. This condition may cause people to avoid close relationships and choose to be alone. 7

Treatment for Schizoid Personality Disorder is similar to that of other mental health conditions.
Treatment can help people learn to build healthy relationships without avoidance. They can learn healthy coping skills and methods for connecting with others.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Similar to Schizoid Personality Disorder, Schizotypal Personality Disorder affects a person’s ability to have relationships with others. They tend to be very uncomfortable in close relationships and can appear eccentric in some cases. Their thinking patterns are often distorted, and they cannot have healthy patterns of thought without treatment. 7

People with this condition may have odd preferences regarding speaking or dressing. They may also show flat emotions or have inappropriate emotional responses to situations. 1 Treatment and medication can help people with this condition manage their distorted thinking.

Diagnosing a Personality Disorder

Personality disorders can be challenging to diagnose. This is likely because the person experiencing symptoms does not believe anything is wrong with their thinking and behavior. People who struggle with these disorders are often referred to a professional by a loved one or social agency for a diagnosis. 2

In some cases, people with these conditions may not intentionally seek help for their disorder but for other conditions like depression or anxiety. After consulting with a mental health professional, they may be diagnosed with a disorder in addition to or instead another mental health condition.

There are particular criteria a person must meet before being diagnosed with one of these disorders. Since much is not known about these conditions, it is important to disclose as much as possible to a healthcare provider.

Only properly trained professionals have the authority to diagnose these conditions accurately. Therefore, if someone is experiencing some of the symptoms listed above, it is essential to seek support. Once a proper diagnosis has been made, a treatment path becomes more apparent. It is also important to note that some people with these disorders resist any treatment.

Getting Help

As mentioned previously, many people who display signs of personality disorders do not seek the mental health support that they need. However, it is essential for these people to get the treatment they need to stabilize their thoughts and behaviors.

Therapeutic treatment for these disorders varies based on the person and their condition. However, a few methods seem to be effective when treating people with these conditions. Evidence-based treatments can help people with such disorders live better lives when accurately used.

There is no one size fits all approach to treatment for these conditions. It is imperative for people to contact an experienced mental health provider to help support their recovery and mental stability. 

D’Amore Mental Health can help people with personality disorders. Our trained staff develops personalized treatment programs to help people live happier and healthier lives. Contact us to learn more about our program and how we can help.


  1. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Personality disorders. Retrieved from:
  2. The Cleveland Clinic. (n.d). Personality disorders. Retrieved from:
  3. Salters-Pednault, K. (February 2022). What are personality disorders in the DSM-V?. Retrieved from:
  4. Cherry, K. (September 2022). What is antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)?. Retrieved from:
  5. Cuncic, A. (November 2022). Avoidant personality disorder: Symptoms and treatment. Retrieved from:
  6. Salters-Pednault, K. (August 2022). What is borderline personality disorder (BPD)?. Retrieved from:
  7. American Psychiatric Association. (n.d.). What are personality disorders?. Retrieved from:

Clinically Reviewed By:

Picture of Valerie Matweeff, ACSW

Valerie Matweeff, ACSW

Valerie has worked in the medical field for over 8 years and the past 4 years has worked in mental health as a school counselor at an elementary school, therapist at a nonprofit for women and children and a therapist at nonprofit working with homeless adults who suffer from Schizophrenia and Bipolar. Valerie received her MSW at USC and is currently working towards her LCSW.