Personality traits are defined by patterns in how you think, behave, and react to situations. For someone without a personality disorder, your responses are consistent and stable over time.
For someone with a personality disorder, behavior may seem rigid instead of adaptive from situation to situation. A personality disorder may disrupt your personal, professional, and social life.
There are three general types of personality disorders:
- Cluster A, characterized by odd or eccentric behavior
- Cluster B, characterized by dramatic or erratic behavior
- Cluster C, characterized by anxious or inhibited behavior
Understanding Cluster A Personality Disorder
The personality disorders that fall into cluster A have similar qualities:
Paranoid personality disorder. People with this disorder may seem cold and distant. They may seem overly suspicious of people, places, and things without a definable reason. They often struggle to have relationships with other people, and they may have trouble seeing their role in conflicts that come up.
Some common symptoms are:
- Distrust of the motives behind others’ actions
- Belief that everyone is trying to hurt or deceive you
- Belief that others lack loyalty to you and aren’t trustworthy as a result
- Won’t talk to others or share information for fear of retribution (payback)
- Seeing insults or attacks in harmless comments
- Tendency to hold grudges
Schizoid personality disorder. People with this disorder may also seem cold and distant. As extreme introverts, they have a fear of intimacy and closeness with others. They are often self-absorbed and may seem detached from reality.
- Prefers to be alone over spending time with others
- No interest in keeping up family relationships or friendships
- Lack of emotional expression
- Doesn’t enjoy activities that others think are fun
- Can’t read normal social cues
Schizotypal personality disorder. Similar to schizoid personality disorder, people with this disorder may also seem to have disorganized ways of thinking. It may lead to altered perceptions of reality and poor communication skills. Symptoms are similar to schizophrenia, although less intense.
Symptoms of this disorder may include:
- Dressing unusually
- Speech and behavior that isn’t considered socially acceptable
- Odd perceptions, like hearing a voice talk to you
- Lack of emotions or inappropriate emotions for a situation
- Social anxiety
- Seeing messages that you think have hidden meanings just for you
Diagnosing Cluster A Personality Disorder
If you think you might have a personality disorder, talk to your doctor. They may refer you to a clinician who specializes in mental health counseling.
During an evaluation, your doctor looks for:
- Ongoing trouble adapting in at least two areas of your life
- Severe distress or loss of your ability to function
- Patterns beginning early in life and getting worse over time
- Other mental health disorders and trauma
If you’re younger than 18, your doctor or specialist may wait to diagnose you until your symptoms go on for a year or longer. Some personality disorders aren’t diagnosed until you’re 18 or older.
Personality disorders often make it hard for you to fully understand your condition. Your doctor may ask for medical records from previous clinicians as well as insight from friends and family members you may be close to.
Treating Cluster A Personality Disorder
There’s no cure for cluster A personality disorders, but treatments can help you live better. The treatment that’s right for you depends on things like your age, overall health, and medical history.
Prescription medication. In order for your meds to help you, you need to take them exactly as prescribed. You can always ask your doctor or loved ones for help with that.
Therapy. A clinician who specializes in psychotherapy can meet with you regularly and give you the tools you need to improve your quality of life. Therapy only helps if you’re open to change and willing to participate actively in your treatment plan.
In therapy, your doctor works with you to identify communication problems you struggle with. You may be able to talk through a real-life scenario, learn from it, and develop ways to have better conversations with other people in the future.
Your doctor should be kind and sensitive to your feelings while helping you build better self-awareness.
Treatment for other disorders. If you also have another health condition, like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse issues, it’s important to get treatment for that, too. Your doctor will come up with a plan that meets your specific needs.