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Help With Personality Disorders

Curated and updated for the community by APA

Personality is the way of thinking, feeling and behaving that makes a person different from other people. An individual’s personality is influenced by experiences, environment (surroundings, life situations) and inherited characteristics. A person’s personality typically stays the same over time. A personality disorder is a way of thinking, feeling and behaving that deviates from the expectations of the culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time.1

There are 10 specific types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are long-term patterns of behavior and inner experiences that differs significantly from what is expected. The pattern of experience and behavior begins by late adolescence or early adulthood and causes distress or problems in functioning. Without treatment, personality disorders can be long-lasting. Personality disorders affect at least two of these areas:

  • Way of thinking about oneself and others
  • Way of responding emotionally
  • Way of relating to other people
  • Way of controlling one’s behavior

Read more on symptoms & treatment

  • Jun 09, 2021
Be Well at Work: Helping Employees with Depression

Depression is one of the most comment mental illnesses and has a significant impact on workers and employers. An estimated one in eight working-age adults has depression, yet only about half of adults with depression are diagnosed, and less than half of those diagnosed receive recommended care.(1) In addition to the health impacts of depression on individuals and families, it also takes a significant economic impact. A new study highlights the Tufts Be Well at Work program, that helps employees with depression. Published in Psychiatric Services, a journal of the American Psychiatric Association, the study presents the results from 15 years of research evaluating the occupational, clinical, and economic impact of Be Well at Work.

  • May 27, 2021
The Economic Cost of Depression is Increasing; Direct Costs are Only a Small Part

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders and can cause tremendous challenge and burden for individuals and families. It also carries a large economic cost. The economic burden of major depressive disorder among U.S. adults was an estimated $236 billion in 2018, an increase of more than 35% since 2010 (year 2020 values), according to research published in early May in the journal Pharmacoeconomics.

  • May 17, 2021
Cannabis: Understanding the Risks

At a recent session at the APA Annual Meeting, a panel of psychiatrists addressed many of the common misconceptions around cannabis. With more states legalizing cannabis and changing public perceptions, there is confusion around its safety and uses. At the APA session, Smita Das, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., provided an overview of cannabis and its current use. To date, 16 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use by adults, and 36 states legalized it for medical use. However, cannabis is still a federal schedule 1 substance (most restricted schedule) under the Controlled Substances Act.

I’m concerned that my friend may have a personality disorder. I don’t think she’ll consider having an evaluation or getting help. What can I do?

People with personality disorders often have a hard time taking responsibility for their feelings and behaviors. They sometimes even blame others for their problems. However, each of them is suffering and is aware that their life is not going well. Approaching a friend about her painful feelings or the frustrations and disappointments in her life, and offering to listen, might be a way to help her consider treatment. If you have had a successful experience in therapy, share that with your friend, even if it wasn’t necessarily for “personality problems” (an off-putting term for many people). Most people with personality disorders enter treatment with another problem, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, a job loss, a romantic break-up, etc. The challenge is to get your friend “in the door,” so to speak, not to commit to long-term treatment at the beginning. Read More

My bother has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I want to be supportive and help him, but it has been extremely difficult to deal with his anger, aggressiveness and paranoia. How can I help him without feeling abused and hurt myself?

People with borderline personality disorder have significant problems in relationships. On the one hand, they can be very needy and clingy in relationships. On the other hand, they push people away because they are insecure themselves and distrust others. They would rather be the one who leaves than the one who is abandoned. To be able to tolerate the borderline person’s anger and aggression, family members must appreciate that the person is reacting out of a sense of weakness and suffering. That is not to say that family members should accept anger and abuse directed at them – limits must be set. Family members must be able to walk away, if necessary, from a situation for their own good, and without guilt. To help a person with borderline personality disorder people need to respect themselves enough to protect themselves. If you let yourself be abused, you will react with anger, push your brother away and confirm his suspicion that you do not love him (enough). Read More

About the Expert:

Andrew Skodol, M.D.
Research Professor, University of Arizona

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MAY 23 2021

10 Myths About Borderline Personality Disorder We Must Leave Behind
Scoop Empire 

It’s Borderline Personality Disorder awareness month, and indeed there is a lot we don’t know. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “BPD is an illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships.” Again and again we have seen the misplacement of mental disorders into inaccurate categories, borderline being one of them. In light of its awareness month, we’ve gathered some common misconceptions about the illness.

 May 13, 2021
Self-injurious behaviors, chronic emptiness increase suicide attempt risk in BPD
Helio 

Borderline personality disorder diagnosis and related criteria of self-injurious behaviors and chronic emptiness significantly increased suicide attempt risk, according to results of a cross-sectional study published in JAMA Network Open. “The present study aimed to examine whether a lifetime BPD diagnosis and specific criteria of BPD are associated with lifetime and past-year [suicide attempts] in U.S. adults after adjusting for other known sociodemographic and clinical variables associated with [suicide attempts], including childhood adverse experiences and psychiatric comorbidity,” Carlos M. Grilo, PhD, of the department of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine

April 26, 2021
Behind the Scenes of Histrionic Personality Disorder
Psychology Today

Separation anxiety in children often includes very real upset stomachs and headaches. It's not faking. People with histrionic personalities learn that, with a little theatrics, they can turn up the volume of their physical discomforts. They often land in the emergency room, and after considerable evaluation, no medical causes can be found.  Part 1: The story of Nancy.