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Personality disorders affect how people think, feel and behave. These disorders often develop during childhood, as a result of neglect or abuse. It was once thought that personality disorders were untreatable. These days treatment can help people manage their symptoms and live full and healthy lives.

What Are Personality Disorders?male patient with his head in his hand talks to female counselor in a personality disorder treatment center

People with personality disorders have inflexible patterns of thought and behavior. These patterns are different from what people consider normal. They make life harder in many ways, because they make people think and act differently from those around them. The patterns of thought and behavior depend on the type of personality disorder someone has. 

There are three types of personality disorder—called clusters—and ten different disorders. 

Cluster A: Odd or Eccentric Behavior

  • Paranoid Personality Disorder. People with a paranoid personality are suspicious of others. They have a hard time trusting people and often self-isolate for this reason.
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder. This disorder makes people distant and withdrawn. They focus more on their own thoughts and feelings than on what’s going on around them. They are often loners with few or no close friends. 
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder. People with this disorder tend to dress or act oddly. They may have strange beliefs; for example, that they can see the future or read minds.

Cluster B: Dramatic, Erratic or Emotional Behavior

    • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). People with BPD have an unstable self-image and often an intense fear of abandonment. They have trouble regulating their mood and tend to behave impulsively.
    • Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Someone with NPD has fragile self-esteem and self-image. This fosters a belief that they are superior to others and a need for constant praise and admiration.

 

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder. People with this disorder act without regard to anyone else’s rights, safety or feelings. They may disregard morals or ethics, lie or manipulate people, or be hostile or violent. 

 

  • Histrionic Personality Disorder. Low self-esteem is at the root of this disorder, which causes a strong need for attention and approval. Dramatic behavior and mood swings are also common symptoms. 

Cluster C: Anxious or Fearful Behavior

    • Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). People with OCPD have a strong need to be in control. They are perfectionists and are particular about details.
    • Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD). The main feature of DPD is an overwhelming fear of rejection or abandonment. People with DPD are very submissive. They would rather defer to others than make their own decisions. 

 

  • Avoidant Personality Disorder. Poor self-esteem and fear of rejection cause people with this disorder to avoid social situations. They may even avoid contact with others altogether. 

 

Causes of Personality Disorders

As with other mental health disorders, personality disorders develop for complex reasons. There’s no single cause that leads to having a personality disorder.  

People with these disorders develop dysfunctional ways of thinking and behaving. This usually starts during childhood. Often this is in response to traumatic events such as abuse, neglect or abandonment. Research suggests there may also be a genetic component to personality disorders.

Contributing factors may include:

  • History of trauma and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Up to 71% of people with personality disorders are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. And as many as 58% of people who seek borderline personality disorder treatment also have PTSD.
  • Unhealthy attachment styles. Having a parent or parental figure who is distant, avoidant or controlling may contribute to the onset of a personality disorder. 
  • Biology. Neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, acetylcholine and serotonin affect how people regulate their emotions. Variations in these brain chemicals can affect the development of a personality disorder. For instance, chemical imbalances are often seen in people with BPD.
  • Low distress tolerance. People with personality disorders may have a low tolerance for stressful situations. This can be the result of chemical imbalance or due to a lack of healthy coping skills.

Personality Disorders and Co-Occurring Disorders

Having a personality disorder can make a person more vulnerable to other mental illnesses. Some common co-occurring disorders include:

  • Anxiety
  • Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Substance abuse

Co-occurring disorders also contribute to a higher risk of suicide. In one study, 84% of people with a personality disorder and a co-occurring disorder had a history of multiple suicide attempts. 

Getting treatment for co-occurring problems is vital for people with personality disorders. The problems these disorders cause are harder to manage when a co-occurring disorder is involved. Treating a personality disorder without addressing co-occurring disorders means treatment is less effective. It also means co-occurring issues continue to influence how well a person can manage their personality disorder.

What Is Personality Disorder Treatment Like?

Treatment for personality disorders focuses on therapy and may also include medication. In therapy, clients work to uncover the roots of their disorder. They also learn how to challenge and change the unhealthy patterns they’ve developed. They learn healthy coping skills, interpersonal skills and other aspects of symptom management. 

Inpatient (Residential) Treatment

In residential personality disorder treatment, clients live-in at a rehab or treatment center. Most of their time is spent on recovery-focused activities, including group and private therapy. Many programs also include activities such as meditation or music and art therapy.

Residential personality disorder treatment offers the chance to focus on healing in a safe, structured environment. It’s a good option for someone who needs to focus 100% on learning to manage their mental health symptoms.

Outpatient Treatment

If you don’t require the structure of a residential program, outpatient treatment programs offer alternatives. For example, there are partial hospitalization programs (PHP), which are similar to residential treatment. The main difference is that in a PHP, clients don’t live-in at the treatment center. Instead, they might live at their own home, then go to the center for treatment. Usually clients go to the center five days a week.

Many people transition to outpatient programs after finishing residential treatment. This helps them prioritize their mental health as they build a healthier life.

Personality Disorder Treatment at The Ranch

The Ranch offers outpatient and residential personality disorder treatment. We also provide support for co-occurring disorders. 

People do better in residential treatment when they’re not focused on what’s lacking in their environment. That’s why our home-like treatment centers are set in stunning natural environments. Our treatment centers are welcoming and comfortable. We provide tasty well-balanced meals, a calming atmosphere and high-quality care.

Detox

Many people with personality disorders have a co-occurring substance use disorder or addiction. Often, medical detox is needed to minimize the risk of dangerous side effects and withdrawal symptoms.

If you have a substance use disorder, we offer a detox program to help you withdraw safely and with minimal discomfort. 

A Custom Treatment Plan

The professional treatment team at The Ranch has wide-ranging expertise. Our treatment program integrates therapies that are proven effective for personality disorders. We help clients address trauma, early childhood attachment and other issues related to personality disorders.

When you arrive at The Ranch, you’ll have a full psychological assessment to help us understand your needs. Then we’ll craft a personal treatment plan to address them.

Individual and group therapy form the core of treatment. Family therapy is also important for many people.

  • Individual therapy is where clients dig deep into their own personal issues and past trauma. They learn to replace unhealthy coping skills with new ones. They also learn healthier patterns of thought and behavior. 
  • Group therapy is an equally important part of personality disorder treatment. This is because relating to others is a core issue for people with these disorders. Group sessions provide a safe space to share and interact with peers. Here, each participant learns new communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Family therapy is often a vital part of treatment. Many people with personality disorders have experienced significant problems during childhood. In family therapy, everyone has a chance to heal and learn healthier ways to communicate.

We draw on both traditional and alternative modes of treatment. Your custom treatment plan may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Schema therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • 12-step support
  • Mindfulness
  • Expressive therapies such as art and music
  • Meditation
  • Fitness and wellness activities

Psychiatric Care

As part of your treatment you’ll meet with our psychiatric team. You may be prescribed medications to ease mental health symptoms. We’ll follow up with you to ensure your medication is having the desired effect.

Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Mental health problems such as eating disorders, depression and anxiety often go along with personality disorders. We provide specialized inpatient dual diagnosis treatment to address these issues. 

Aftercare 

Completing a treatment program is the first step toward managing a personality disorder. When you leave The Ranch, you’ll have a full aftercare plan in place to help you maintain your new outlook. Your aftercare plan may include resources such as:

  • Support groups
  • Individual therapy sessions
  • Family therapy
  • Psychiatric care

Get Help for a Personality Disorder  

Having a personality disorder can make some aspects of life harder to manage. If you or someone you know is struggling with borderline or another personality disorder, the mental health experts at The Ranch are ready to help.

Call us today: 844.876.7680

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