Teen Personality Disorders

Often, people consider their personality to be the defining factor in who they are as a person. For example, someone might say they are “shy” or “outgoing.” But what if a personality trait becomes so pervasive and rigid that it interferes with daily functioning? Sometimes, it can indicate that a personality disorder may be present.
Personality disorders are conditions that affect the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. They are usually categorized as either “internalizing” or “externalizing.” Internalizing disorders involve negative emotions such as anxiety and depression while externalizing disorders involve more destructive behaviors such as aggression and violence.
The WHO estimates that roughly 7% of adolescents aged 10-19 struggle with a mental disorder. Unfortunately, most of these cases go undiagnosed and become much worse as a result.
For teenagers, personality disorders can be especially destructive. Being an adolescent already poses challenges enough, but things can get really complicated when a personality disorder is thrown into the mix. Teens with personality disorders may have difficulty forming healthy relationships, managing their emotions, and succeeding in school or work.
If your teen struggles with a personality disorder, the best thing you can do is to become educated about the disorder and seek help from a therapist or counselor.

Teen Personality Disorders

Often, people consider their personality to be the defining factor in who they are as a person. For example, someone might say they are “shy” or “outgoing.” But what if a personality trait becomes so pervasive and rigid that it interferes with daily functioning? Sometimes, it can indicate that a personality disorder may be present.
Personality disorders are conditions that affect the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. They are usually categorized as either “internalizing” or “externalizing.” Internalizing disorders involve negative emotions such as anxiety and depression while externalizing disorders involve more destructive behaviors such as aggression and violence.
The WHO estimates that roughly 7% of adolescents aged 10-19 struggle with a mental disorder. Unfortunately, most of these cases go undiagnosed and become much worse as a result.
For teenagers, personality disorders can be especially destructive. Being an adolescent already poses challenges enough, but things can get really complicated when a personality disorder is thrown into the mix. Teens with personality disorders may have difficulty forming healthy relationships, managing their emotions, and succeeding in school or work.
If your teen struggles with a personality disorder, the best thing you can do is to become educated about the disorder and seek help from a therapist or counselor.

What are Personality Disorders?

Human personality is influenced by various factors, such as our genetics and life experiences. As our personality defines our innermost experiences, it affects the way we think, feel, and behave in different situations.

When our personality traits become so severe that they significantly impair our daily functioning, we may be diagnosed with a personality disorder.

There are many different personality disorders, but they can all be highly distressing and disruptive to our lives. Having a personality disorder can cause your teen to feel isolated, misunderstood, and alone, as well as significantly impair their quality of life.

Teen Personality Disorders

Subtypes of Personality Disorders

Beneath the umbrella term “personality disorder” lies a range of specific diagnoses that capture the way someone behaves and relates to the world. There are three clusters of personality disorders:

  • Cluster A (odd or eccentric behavior)
  • Cluster B (dramatic, emotional, or erratic behavior)
  • Cluster C (anxious or fearful behavior)

Every cluster has its own unique set of symptoms, and within each one, there are specific subtypes of personality disorders. Let’s take a closer look at each cluster and its corresponding subtypes, as well as the signs and symptoms of each.

Signs and Symptoms of Personality Disorder

een Personality Disorders
Teen Personality Disorders
Teen Personality Disorders

Causes of Personality Disorders in Teens

  • Genetics Some believe that personality disorders may be passed down from parents to their children. This seems to be especially true for borderline personality disorder, which may have a genetic link.
  • Environmental influences: Traumatic life events, such as abuse or neglect, can play a role in the development of personality disorders. So can being raised in an unstable or chaotic home environment.
  • Brain chemistry: The brains of people with personality disorders may function differently than those without them. This could be due to differences in brain structure or the way neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain) work.
  • Life experiences: People with personality disorders may have had more negative life experiences than those without them. This could be due to the environmental and genetic factors mentioned above, or it could be that people with personality disorders are more prone to seeking out difficult or dangerous situations.

Treatment for Teens Diagnosed with a Personality Disorder

Although personality disorders are a varied group of mental health conditions, they often share common symptoms. These can include problems with regulating emotions and thoughts, difficulties in relationships, and a tendency to act impulsively.

If you are the parent of a teenager who has been diagnosed with a personality disorder, it is important to get the right treatment for them. Treatment will vary depending on the specific disorder but may include therapy, medication, and self-care strategies.

Therapy is often a key part of treatment for teens with personality disorders. Therapists can help teens learn how to manage their emotions and thoughts, understand how their disorder affects them and their relationships, and develop coping skills.

Medication may also be prescribed to help manage symptoms. Currently, there are no FDA-approved drugs for teens diagnosed with a personality disorder, but your doctor can prescribe medication if they feel that one may be effective in treating symptoms.

Self-care strategies can also help manage symptoms of a personality disorder. Some self-care strategies that may be beneficial include exercise, relaxation techniques, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep.

If you are the parent of a teenager who has been diagnosed with a personality disorder, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers a free helpline that can provide you with information and resources about treatment for teens with personality disorders.

Therapy

For adolescents with a personality disorder, your doctor may recommend two main types of therapy for treatment.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

This type of therapy helps adolescents understand how their thoughts and feelings influence their behavior. CBT can also help adolescents learn how to manage their emotions better.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that helps people learn how to manage their emotions. It also teaches skills like mindfulness and distress tolerance, which can be helpful for adolescents with borderline personality disorder and other types of personality disorders.

The Role of Parents

Seeing your child struggle through a mental health disorder can be a painful and confusing process. It is important to remember that your child’s behavior is not their fault, and they are not doing this on purpose. Parents play an important role in helping their children receive the necessary treatment for their disorders.

The first step in getting your child help is to identify that there is a problem. This can be difficult, as many of the symptoms of teen personality disorders are common behaviors for teenagers. However, if your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms for an extended period of time, it may be indicative of a disorder:

  • Arguing with family and friends
  • Having problems at school
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Feeling sad or hopeless for more than two weeks
  • Having thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol

If you believe your child may have a personality disorder, the next step is to take them to a mental health professional. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for teen personality disorders, so it is important to find a therapist who will work with your child and their specific disorder.

The role of parents does not end once their child begins treatment, however. It is important to continue to be supportive and understanding, even when your child is feeling better. Recovery from a personality disorder is a lifelong process, and your support will be crucial in helping your child stay healthy and happy.

Conclusion

Mental illness is never an easy topic to discuss, but it is important that we do so in order to help those who are suffering. Teen personality disorders can be extremely difficult for both the affected adolescent and their family.

If you are worried that your teen may have a personality disorder, please seek professional help at Hillside Horizon. There is no shame in getting help, and it could make all the difference for your teen as they navigate through a difficult time in their life.