Personality Disorders

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In our everyday lives, we often hear, read or talk about mental health. But what is it that the term actually means? According to the World Health Organization , mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder and is defined as a state of well-being. Being mentally healthy means that you engage in productive activities that help you grow and develop. It means you have fulfilling relationships that make you feel happier, stronger and supported. And most importantly, being mentally healthy means you have the ability to adapt and cope with adversity or stress when it happens.

Although many people the world over are living contented lives in a positive state of mental health, mental disorders are commonly occurring and often seriously impairing a significant proportion of the world’s population.

Our personality is the collection of the ways in which we think, feel and behave that makes us all individuals. Those who struggle with a personality disorder have great difficulty dealing with themselves and other people. They tend to have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking and behaving and are unable to respond to the changes and demands of life. This leads to significant problems and limitations in relationships, social encounters, work and school. There are many different types of personality disorders.

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Based on their similarities, personality disorders are grouped into 3 clusters: 

  • Cluster A: Individuals in this cluster often appear odd or eccentric. This includes the Paranoid, Schizoid and Schizotypal personality disorders. 
  • Cluster B: Individuals in this cluster appear dramatic, emotional or erratic. This includes the Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, and Narcissistic personality disorders. 
  • Cluster C: Individuals in this cluster often appear anxious or fearful. This includes the Avoidant, Dependent and Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorders. 
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Personality forms during childhood, shaped through an interaction of your inherited tendencies and your environment. Some experts believe that events occurring in early childhood exert the most powerful influence upon behaviour later in life. Others think that genetic predisposition is the most important factor that leads to personality disorders. Generally though, personality disorders are thought to be caused by a combination of these genetic and environmental influences. You may have a genetic vulnerability to developing a personality disorder and your life situation may trigger the actual development of a personality disorder.

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There are many types of treatment available for the different personality disorders. Treatment may include individual, group, or family psychotherapy. While medication alone can’t cure personality disorders, a range of medications may also be helpful in addressing some of the symptoms of personality disorders, including problems with anxiety and perceptions.

Psychotherapy focuses on helping those with personality disorders to see the unconscious conflicts that are contributing to or causing their symptoms. It also helps people become more flexible and is aimed at reducing the behavior patterns that interfere with everyday living. In psychotherapy, people with personality disorders can also better recognise the effects of their behaviour on others.

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