Schizoid Personality Disorder

Medically Reviewed by Zilpah Sheikh, MD on December 25, 2023
5 min read

People with personality disorders have long-standing inflexible patterns of thinking and acting that differ from what society considers normal. Their differences cause distress and can interfere with work, schooling, relationships, and other aspects of life.

Unlike people with anxiety or depressive disorders, who know they have a problem but struggle to control it, people with personality disorders often are not aware that they have a problem and don't think they have anything to control. So, they may never seek treatment.

A lack of interest in people and relationships is the central feature of schizoid personality disorder. If you have this disorder, others may see you as aloof, distant, and unemotional. You probably prefer to spend time alone.

How common is schizoid personality disorder?

Different studies find different numbers, with some researchers reporting that fewer than 1 in 100 people have this disorder and others finding it in nearly 5 out of 100 people. Pinpointing the numbers can be hard because so few people with the disorder seek treatment.

Schizoid personality disorder vs. schizophrenia

Although their names sound similar and they share a few symptoms, schizoid personality disorder is not the same thing as schizophrenia.

People with schizophrenia lose contact with reality, often seeing and hearing things that aren't there (hallucinations) and believing things that aren't true (delusions). They have very disorganized ways of thinking and acting that can get in the way of all aspects of life.

People with schizoid personality disorder don't have hallucinations or delusions. Many are able to function fairly well as long as they stay out of situations that demand a lot of interaction with other people.

Schizotypal vs. schizoid disorders

Schizoid personality disorder also differs from schizotypal personality disorder. People with schizotypal personality disorder are intensely uncomfortable with other people. They can be very suspicious of others, may speak and behave oddly, and may believe they have special powers, such as an ability to read others' thoughts. Some go on to develop schizophrenia.

People with schizoid personality disorder often organize their lives to avoid contact with other people.

Among common traits:

  • Not wanting or enjoying close relationships, even with family members
  • Choosing jobs and activities that let you stay alone
  • Taking pleasure in few activities
  • Not wanting or enjoying sex with other people
  • Having no close friends
  • Not seeming to care about praise or criticism
  • Showing little emotion
  • Lacking the drive to reach goals

Little is known about the causes of schizoid personality disorder, but both genetics and environment likely play roles.

For example, some of the many genes involved in schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders might also be involved in schizoid personality disorder. Your risk is higher if you have a parent or another relative with schizoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, or schizophrenia.

Some mental health professionals speculate that a bleak childhood where warmth and emotion were absent might also contribute to the development of the disorder.

Personality disorders can be hard to diagnose. You don't develop your personality, or a personality disorder, overnight. Instead, it develops through childhood and beyond, with traits often becoming more pronounced and obvious as you reach late teen years or early adulthood.

If you decide to seek help, it might be because someone else urges you to do it or because you are anxious or depressed over the way your differences affect your life.

Your first stop might be a primary care doctor, who can get your medical history and do a physical exam. If the doctor doesn't find a clear cause for your symptoms, they might suggest you see a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.

The mental health professional will look at your history and ask you some questions about your childhood, work history, and relationships. They'll also try to find out if you are having hallucinations and delusions, which would lead to diagnoses other than schizoid personality disorder. They may also speak to your family members or others who know you well.

While there's no single schizoid personality test, you might fill out questionnaires that help the doctor see whether you might have the disorder or some other problem. Conditions that can share some of the same symptoms include other personality disorders and autism spectrum disorders. Depression also can temporarily cause some similar symptoms.

If you seek treatment, you are most likely to be offered some form of psychotherapy -- talk therapy.

That might take different forms, including:

Individual sessions with a therapist who will listen to you and help you work toward goals, such as improving relationships. You and the therapist might use a technique called cognitive behavioral therapy that helps people change their beliefs and behavior.

Group sessions where you can work with others to learn and practice new social skills.

There's no drug for schizoid personality disorder, but if you are depressed or anxious, you might get medications for those problems.

The biggest complication of the disorder is a lack of social connection, something that can get in the way of many aspects of life.

However, people with this disorder tend to cope better than people with other personality disorders, who are generally at a higher risk for suicide and misuse of drugs and alcohol.

If you have schizoid personality disorder, others might be distressed by your behavior. However, you may find ways to function effectively in everyday life, even without forming meaningful relationships. Studies suggest you are less likely than those with other personality disorders to have trouble finding or keeping a job. Still, you might develop anxiety or depression. Getting a diagnosis and treatment may help you manage better and also might help your family and others around you understand your behavior.

Can schizoid personality disorder be prevented?

There's no known way to prevent the disorder, as the causes are unclear.

At what age does schizoid personality disorder start?

The disorder likely has roots in childhood. The typical traits are usually seen by late teen years or early adulthood.

Does schizoid personality disorder get worse with age?

There's not much research on how personality disorders change throughout a lifetime. Some research suggests that people with schizoid personality disorder get more withdrawn and anxious in old age. Certain challenges that come with poor health, such as having to share a room in a hospital or nursing home, might be especially hard if you have this disorder.