Personality Disorder: Types, Symptoms and Remedies
Personality disorder is a broad term that includes a number of mental disorders, and given that researchers suggest roughly 10% of the population suffers from one disorder in some way, it is critical to understand the different types, symptoms and remedies of personality disorders.
This term has become much more common in medical and psychiatric circles in the past decade, as the truly pervasive and widespread nature of mental disorders has become better understood. A “personality disorder” is a much broader classification of mental disorders that can affect behavior and personality in many different ways. A general description of mental disorders is a situation in which negative patterns of thinking and behavior become long-term concerns, leading to views of the world and one’s self in a way that is different than that of their cultural norms. There are numerous manifestations of personality disorder, from poor cognition or impulse control to lessened emotional capacity and social dysfunction.
The causes of personality disorders are as varied as the ways in which they present, including environmental and genetic predisposition causes, but one of the most common factors is an emotionally traumatic or abusive childhood, which is when permanent behavioral traits are often formed and solidified. The early years of development are crucial to an individual’s perception of the world, as well as their place within it. Due to the timing of abuse and emotional maturity, personality disorders are typically diagnosed in the teenage or early adult years, although some cases are accurately diagnosed in younger children. That being said, a family history of mental disorders or an early childhood diagnosis of conduct disorder can both lead to the “belief” in there being a problem, which can thus manifest into the problems you most fear. The mind is a terribly powerful and frightening tool when it goes awry, as these disorders show so clearly. Since the spectrum of personality disorder is so wide, they are generally broken down into three categories – A, B and C.
Types of Personality Disorders
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders divides personality disorders into the following three “clusters”.
Cluster A – Odd, Bizarre and Eccentric
The three types included in this cluster are Paranoid, Schizoid and Schizotypal Personality Disorders. Although these are notably different, it is not within the scope of this article to describe each condition. As a group, they are characterized by a lack of desire to interact socially, and there is a tendency towards suspicion and mistrust of others. Retreating into an inner world, and even believing in the fantastical notions they find there, are common elements in this cluster. Some people in Cluster A fear interaction with others, while others simply find it too difficult or have no interest in doing so.
Cluster B – Dramatic or Erratic
This second cluster represents people with four common personality disorders: Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Again, while each of these is unique, the cluster as a whole exhibits behavior of selfishness and self-obsession, either placing themselves ahead of the needs of others, or being seemingly “unable” to care about others. Loneliness and isolation are often present here, despite having the appearance of being a social person. The flexibility or absence of a permanent personality also leads to failed relationships, a penchant for deception and manipulation, and a weakened sense of identity.
Cluster C – Anxious or Fearful
The types contained in this cluster include Avoidant, Dependent and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorders. The primary characteristics of these disorders is fear of inadequacy or a lack of control, which results in extreme anxiety and the tendency to see the world as either good or bad, black or white, harmful or safe. There is also a strong feeling of anxiety about social connections, either constantly needing to be with others for validation, or avoiding social contact due to fear of rejection or criticism. A lack of control over reality drives them to attempt to assert more control, but the cycle repeats and leaves them feeling helpless.
Remedies for Personality Disorders
Yoga and Meditation: For thousands of years, yoga and meditation has provided a calming effect for people suffering from a huge range of physical and mental issues. These ancient techniques are known to reduce stress hormone levels in the body, improve the metabolism, boost appetite and lower anxiety and depression. While personality disorders are complex and multi-layered problems that cannot be “solved” by yoga or meditation, these practices can provide a solid foundation of calmness and inner peace for your days, particularly if you are having a bad episode.
St. John’s Wort: Known as nature’s greatest anti-depressant and treatment for mood disorders, St. John’s Wort can help to balance your hormone levels and give you an energetic boost. There are many different strengths and concentrations for this herbal supplement, and it does have certain interactions with other more formal medications and anti-depressants, so check with a doctor before adding St. John’s Wort to your regiment.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol: Many of the issues of personality disorders cause people to turn towards drugs and alcohol to numb them from the pain or anxiety, but this only exacerbates the problems. Drugs can further alter brain chemistry and make moods even more sporadic and unpredictable, while alcohol is a depressant, and something to which it is easy to become addicted. Alcohol and drugs are only temporary solutions that end up causing more problems than they solve, particularly in the case of personality disorders.
Ketogenic Diet: You may have heard of ketogenic diets during the burst of health crazes in the 1990s, but it has proven to have value beyond that period of wild trends. A ketogenic diet is similar to the Atkins’ Diet (low-carb, high fat), and drives the body to produce ketones, rather than relying on glucose to power the body with energy. This can significantly boost the metabolism, increase circulation and oxygenation, and add energy. For personality disorders, this diet can provide clarity and greater health, allowing you to focus on making your mind healthy above a supportive body.
Learn About Your Condition: It is scary to admit that you are suffering from a personality disorder, but ignoring the fact won’t make it go away. In fact, one of the worst things that you can do is remain ignorant of the details of your diagnosis. If you educate yourself, and ask people you trust for help, it will be easier to recognize triggers and symptoms, and proactively work to change your brain chemistry and instinctual reactions to things. Education is key!
Exercise: There are countless benefits to exercise for the body, but it is also important for the mind. Exercise releases serotonin, the pleasure hormone, giving your mind a sense of satisfaction each time you work out. While this isn’t a “cure” for a personality disorder, regular activity can help to re-balance your brain chemistry, lower signs of depression, and relieve anxiety in a healthy way.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: When it comes to natural treatments for personality disorders, many people suggest increasing your omega-3 fatty acid intake. These substances are known to reduce inflammation, act as antioxidants, and improve the health of the body and mind. While the research linking these fatty acids with personality disorders is not conclusive, anecdotal evidence argues that this is an effective approach.
Aromatherapy: There is a wide range of essential oils that can be used in an aromatherapy setting to improve mood, lower anxiety levels, eliminate depression, and stabilize hormones. Some of the best options for personality disorders include lavender, vetiver, bergamot and chamomile essential oils.
Better Sleep Habits: A lack of sleep or constantly interrupted sleep can exacerbate the symptoms of any personality disorder. The body runs on a series of cycles, and requires enough rest to recharge and heal itself, while growing new cells and tissues and generally preparing for each new day. Setting a schedule for sleep, avoiding television or screens in the hour before sleep, and not using your bedroom for other activities are all good methods to ensure better sleep habits.
Final Word of Warning: Personality disorders are tragic and potentially dangerous problems facing many people, some of whom are unaware that they could be diagnosed with any number of these disorders. If you feel that you are suffering from a personality disorder, speak to a professional, get checked out, and potentially diagnosed, in order for you to start treating the condition and living a healthier and happier life!