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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

  • 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.

  • May 17, 2021
How Nutrition Impacts Mental Health

The relationship between nutrition and mental health is a hot topic, and it was the subject of a recent panel discussion at the APA’s online Annual Meeting in early May. A panel of experts reviewed research on the potential roles of nutrition in the causes of, recovery from and potential resilience against psychiatric illness.

  • May 06, 2021
Nature’s Benefits for Mental Health May Not Work So Well When Pressured

During the more than a year of pandemic restrictions, access to parks and other green spaces have been very important escapes for many, offering a place to go for exercise and social interaction when other options weren’t available. Fifteen national parks set new recreation visitation records in 2020, despite temporary park closures and restrictions in response to the pandemic.

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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Editor's Choice

JAN 6 2021

Overcoming borderline personality disorder: A mental health success story
Detroit Lakes Tribune

This is the sixth story in the 10-part series, "Inside Out: A Step Inside Mental Illness." It focuses on borderline personality disorder. Samantha Hedden, 32, was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2016 and, through a regiment of therapy, prescribed medications and the support of loved ones, this year, she received her master's degree in curriculum, pedagogy and schooling from Metro State University.

DEC 20, 2020  

“Tomorrow I’ll Be Someone Else”: Living With Borderline Personality Disorder
Refinery 29

New research on personality disorders identifies key high-yield questions. In order to address the need for a brief personality disorder screen, which would be helpful given how intensive full evaluation is, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, as described in their recent paper in the Journal of Personality Disorders (2020), tested a brief scale to screen for personality issues through the degree of agreement or disagreement with three key items.

DEC 11, 2020

How to Treat Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Healthline

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under the “personality disorders” category. NPD is characterized by a: lack of empathy; strong need for admiration; and pervasive pattern of grandiosity. We often hear the word “narcissist” used in general conversation. In this context, people are usually referring to one who exhibits some self-centered, vain behavior. with therapy.