How Personality Disorders are Treated
A personality disorder carves a blunt, often impenetrable path through a person’s perceptions towards self and others. Someone living with a personality disorder develops the condition at an early age when thinking patterns and behaviors start to take root. For this reason, it can be difficult to treat a personality disorder with most people undergoing treatment on a long-term basis.
As no real boundaries separate one disorder from another, it’s not uncommon for someone to experience various symptoms from different types of disorders. As such, treatment requires an individualized approach that takes a person’s specific circumstances and symptoms under consideration. In most all cases, psychotherapy and/or medication treatment approaches are used to help people who suffer from personality disorders.
People affected by personality disorders have difficulty relating to people and everyday situations, according to the Mayo Clinic health site. These difficulties stem from unhealthy thinking patterns and behaviors that differ from societal or cultural norms. As a result, someone suffering from a personality disorder typically experiences problems in relationships, at work or school and in everyday social encounters.
Since these conditions develop at an early age, most people don’t see their perceptions or behaviors as abnormal, but rather blame others for the challenges they face. Not surprisingly, certain risk factors do make some people more susceptible to developing a personality disorder. Some these risk factors include:
- Childhood neglect
- Limited socioeconomic means
- An unstable upbringing or dysfunctional family life
- Traumatic divorce between parents during childhood
- Sexual abuse in childhood
- Physical abuse in childhood
- Verbal abuse in childhood
- Family history of mental illness
- Death of a parent during childhood
As children and teens have yet to go through developmental growth stages, personality disorders are typically not diagnosed until a person reaches adulthood.
Individual Treatment Needs
With so many possible causative factors at work, treating a personality disorder requires an individualized treatment approach. This entails a thorough assessment/evaluation process designed to identify any medical, psychological or social issues affecting a person’s condition.
Oftentimes, a treatment team will work together to determine the best course of treatment for the individual. A treatment team may consist of a psychiatrist, physician, psychotherapist and social worker.
According to John Hopkins Medicine Health Library, other factors considered when treating personality disorders include:
- The type of disorder
- Severity of symptoms
- A person’s age
- Medical history
- Current health status
- A person’s treatment preference
Types of Treatment
Psychotherapy and medication are the two main approaches used when treating personality disorders. Depending on the severity of the condition, one person may only require psychotherapy or medication treatment, while someone else may best benefit from both treatment approaches. While medications don’t actually cure personality disorders, they do help alleviate some of the symptoms that stem from a condition.
Psychotherapy treatment enables a person to talk about his or her condition and work through the emotional and psychological issues that feed the disorder. A person also learns new ways of perceiving self and interacting with others.
As personality disorders actually become an ingrained part of a person’s sense of self, active participation in the treatment process is absolutely necessary in order to see positive results.