While many of the symptoms of a personality disorder can be found in anyone, it is the group of specific behaviours found together which deviate from social norms that constitute a personality disorder. Often, these disorders can be characterized by unstable relationships, mood swings, substance or drug abuse, mistrust of others and a lack of impulse control. Personality disorders are broken down into 3 different categories which define different temperaments: Cluster A, B and C. Defined by dramatic, emotional and erratic behaviour, Cluster B disorders consist of disorders such as histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder.
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Histrionic Personality Disorder
More common in women than men, histrionic personality disorder usually appears in adolescence or early adulthood. Stemming from the word histrionic, which refers to the dramatic, those with this disorder may have the appearance of good social skills but they like to be the centre of attention. Their self-esteem relies largely on the opinion of others. In addition to exhibiting manipulative behaviour to get attention, signs that a person may have this disorder are provocative dress, flirtatious behaviour, quickly shifting emotions, and an excessive concern with their physical appearance. They may be gullible, very sensitive to criticism and may have difficulty maintaining relationships. While this disorder is perceived as genetic, its appearance may also be learned behaviour. If an individual is evaluated and determined to have this disorder, they can be directed to a psychiatrist or psychologist who will assist them in discovering their underlying motivations and fears so they can make appropriate changes. As a person with this disorder is more likely to suffer from mood swings, they may be put on medication to deal with the associated issues of depression and anxiety.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Involving an exaggerated self-image and a sense of entitlement, narcissistic personality disorder makes those with it largely impervious to the thoughts and feelings of others. Signs of this disorder are a person who requires a high degree of admiration from others, is unable to take constructive criticism, exploits others to get what they want, is envious of others' achievements, and exhibits a degree of confidence that goes beyond a healthy level. These individuals can also be interpreted as cold, aloof and arrogant, and they may have trouble developing healthy relationships with other since they are often one sided. If there is a suspicion of this disorder, a psychologist or psychiatrist may assist in helping the individual deal with the worst aspects of the disorder through therapy so their behaviour can be altered. It may also be helpful for the individual to go on medication to deal with the depression that can often be linked with this disorder.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Occurring usually by early adulthood and more prevalent in women, borderline personality disorder is characterized by an individual who has unstable relationships and emotions. Signs that a person has this disorder may include chronic feelings of emptiness, intense and unnecessary anger, suicidal behaviour and impulsivity that may lead to extreme behaviour like promiscuous sex and/or substance abuse. While there is no single factor that has been determined as a cause of this disorder, it is believed to be a combination of genetic, social and psychological factors. People with a family history of borderline personality disorder have a higher than average chance of developing the disorder. If you suspect that someone might have this disorder, it's a good idea to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist who will be able to make an appropriate diagnosis. Though the intensity of this disorder generally increases by the time people have reached middle age, it can be treated with psychotherapy. It's also possible that medication will be used to deal with symptoms of the disorder if they are characterized as more severe.
Cluster B personality disorders are characterized by emotional instability and problems with self-esteem. Unlike most other disorder categories, personality disorders are very long-term illnesses that require lifelong treatment. Personality is notoriously difficult to modify, though a regimen of medication and psychological counseling may help to reduce symptoms.
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