Personality Disorders in Teens and Young Adults

Personality disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by long-standing patterns of behavior, thoughts, and emotions that deviate from cultural norms and cause significant impairment in functioning.

What is a personality disorder? 

A personality disorder is marked by behavioral patterns that make it difficult to understand or interact with people or situations. Personality disorders can make it difficult for people to regulate their emotions and, as a result, maintain healthy relationships. 

A young man with glasses and an earring sits at home on a leather couch struggling with a mental health disorder

How common are personality disorders?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, approximately 9% of adults in the U.S. have at least one personality disorder. That's close to the same number of people who have diabetes; in other words, personality disorders are fairly common. 

Types of personality disorders

There are many different types of personality disorders that can impact teens and young adults. Here are some common disorders.

What are symptoms of personality disorders?

While there are many different types of individual personality disorders, they can be broken down into three categories.

Cluster A personality disorders

Personality disorders involving odd thinking or behavior are considered part of Cluster A. It may be difficult for individuals to comfortably socialize with others. Paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders are examples of Cluster A.

Cluster B personality disorders

Cluster B personality disorders tend to involve unpredictable behaviors and over dramatic emotions. Examples include antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders.

Cluster C personality disorders

The personality disorders included in Cluster C revolve around fear and anxiety. Both thoughts and behavior can apply. Common Cluster C personality disorders include avoidant dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

What are common causes of personality disorders? 

There are a number of causes that can lead to the development of personality disorders in teens and young adults. Genetics can play a large role, with some disorders being linked to a gene malfunction (particularly obsessive compulsive disorder). Childhood trauma is also a common cause of developing personality disorders. Abuse (both physical and verbal) and sexual trauma can lead to a range of anxiety-related disorders. 

Teen girl with personality disorder sitting on a couch with hand on face

How are personality disorders diagnosed?

It can be difficult for an individual to self-diagnose a personality disorder, which makes it so important for parents and other close relatives to identify symptoms. Healthcare providers can also help point towards a diagnosis, although most clinicians won't diagnose a personality disorder in someone under 18 years old. 

Even among mental health professionals, the details of a personality disorder can be difficult to uncover. Many patients exhibit similar symptoms of anxiety and depression, which can skew an accurate diagnosis. 

What types of treatment exist for personality disorders?

A personalized treatment plan is created based on the individuals and their diagnoses. Treatment options include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

What is the prognosis for personality disorders? 

It is important to diagnose and treat individuals with personality disorders in order to improve their outcomes in life. Without help, they may experience a greater chance of unemployment, divorce, abuse, substance abuse, and homelessness. 

Personality disorder treatment at Charlie Health

Charlie Health uses a comprehensive suite of treatment modalities to help teens and young adults with personality disorders. Our virtual Intensive Outpatient Program includes weekly individual therapy, as well as family therapy and group support sessions. 

This unique combination helps individuals with personality disorders make real progress in learning how to function and build quality relationships in life. Speak to our Admissions team to learn how Charlie Health can help you or a loved one. 

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