Most mental health experts will agree that there is some overlap between diagnosing and recognising the symptoms of the various personality disorders.
How many personality disorders are there?
According to the DSM – 5 (diagnostic and statistical manual), there are ten distinct types of personality disorders divided into three groups or clusters.
Each cluster describes the features and general themes of each personality disorder within them.
Cluster A disorders
For example, indications of a Cluster A personality disorder usually make people seem ”eccentric or odd”.
Cluster B disorders
On the other hand, people with Cluster B personality disorders demonstrate behaviours that cause affected individuals to appear ”emotional, erratic, or dramatic.”
Cluster C disorders
Lastly, those with a Cluster C personality disorder seem ”fearful or anxious”.
What are the ten personality disorders?
As mentioned, there are ten personality disorders classified within the DSM -5.
Additionally, each personality disorder gets grouped into its cluster; they include:
- Histrionic personality disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Dependent personality disorder
People with personality disorders
Personality disorders are different from other mental illnesses despite some similarities with names.
Compassion for personality disorders and the sufferers
For example, an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is not the same mental health condition as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Essentially, personality disorders can be challenging to understand, even more so for those living with a personality disorder.
Understanding each personality disorder, how they manifest, and the nature of each cluster is a good rule of thumb.
Understanding personality disorders
Our personalities are defined by how we think, feel, behave and relate to ourselves and the rest of the world.
Sense of self
Inherently, personality disorders are not just about a person thinking, behaving or relating to themselves and those around them differently; they are a pervasive deviation from societal and cultural norms that cause the sufferer great distress, making it difficult for them to function.
Mental health professionals describe personality disorders as being:
”Unhealthy, rigid patterns of behaviour that interfere with a person’s ability to perceive or relate to situations or people, enjoy life, maintain meaningful relationships, and do well at work or school” (Kristalyn – Salters -Pedneault, PhD).
What are cluster B personality disorders?
This article will focus on Cluster B personality disorders, their symptoms, how they affect people, and how to seek treatment.
According to studies, Cluster B personality disorders affect up to 5.5% of the adult population.
Unpredictable emotions and behaviours
Cluster B personality disorders get characterised by overly emotional, dramatic, or unpredictable ways of behaving or thinking.
According to the literature, Cluster B personality disorders are usually the hardest to treat and the least common (compared to other Cluster personality disorder types).
As mentioned earlier, personality disorders (and other mental disorders) can easily overlap, and people can have one or more mental health conditions or co-occurring diseases, which require different treatment approaches.
Borderline personality disorder
The main characteristics of borderline personality disorder (BPD) are associated with specific problems with self-image, emotions, behaviours, how a person thinks, and issues with interpersonal relationships.
People with borderline personality disorder usually have intense, unstable relationships that consist of conflict and tension, such as constant breakups and frequent arguments.
Inherently, people with this disorder are terrified of being abandoned by those they love and usually have a profound negative self-image.
One of the distinct features of BPD is that sufferers with this disorder will often feel as though they are on an emotional roller-coaster, a see-saw of emotions that oscillate from depression to elation within a short space of time (usually a matter of minutes).
Another indication of borderline personality disorder is that people with this condition tend to engage in risky behaviours such as:
Narcissistic personality disorder
One of the most popular personality disorders that gets a lot of attention in social communities and online media is narcissistic personality disorder.
The DSM – 5 documents some of the key features associated with narcissism, which include:
- A lack of empathy and attention-seeking behaviour
- An inflated sense of self-importance
- Fantasies about being assertive, attractive and successful
- Believing that others are envious of you
- Exaggerated achievements
- Having a profound sense of entitlement and debasing others
Histrionic personality disorder
People with a histrionic personality disorder often feel incredibly uncomfortable when other people receive more attention than they do.
The main symptom of histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is a rapid shift between excessive attention-seeking behaviour and dramatic expressions of emotion.
People with this disorder frequently engage in seductive, dramatic, or sexually provocative behaviours and often use their physical appearance to gain (or regain) attention.
Other hallmarks of histrionic personality disorder include:
- Adopting dramatic language patterns or statements to express opinions
- Easily influenced by others
- Believing that relationships are more profound than what they are
- Overly concerned with physical appearance
Antisocial personality disorder
An antisocial personality disorder gets characterised by a pervasive pattern of disregard for the rights of others; such characteristics begin in childhood and continue into adulthood.
People with antisocial personality disorder often act irresponsible, steal, lie or continuously break the law.
Another symptom of antisocial personality disorder is a demonstrable lack of empathy for others.
An antisocial personality disorder gets classified within the DSM 5 wherein symptoms involve:
- Impulsive behaviour
- Severe disregard for one’s safety and of others, followed by a lack of remorse for any harm that may be caused.
Treatment options for people with Cluster B personality disorders
Medical advice, diagnosis or treatment depends on the type of personality disorder and other variables such as co-occurring physical or mental health conditions.
Additionally, people must not self-diagnose themselves or a loved one since only trained mental health professionals can diagnose mental disorders such as personality disorders.
In many cases, a diagnosis may include psychiatric evaluation and meeting the diagnostic criteria set out within the DSM – 5.
The above may also include a physical exam from a physician.
Treatment options for Cluster B personality disorders typically include psychotherapy and medication.
Psychotherapy treatment is diverse and may involve therapies such as:
Studies show that coping skills training, awareness and self-education are integral components of psychotherapy.
Causes and risk factors
Many studies have been conducted around personality disorders, although the exact cause remains unknown.
However, researchers believe that the development of personality disorders get linked to genetic predisposition and environmental factors.
One study found that specific brain abnormalities are prevalent in those with Cluster B personality disorders, suggesting that people with this disorder may be genetically vulnerable to particular mental health disorders from birth.
Additionally, a family history of mental disorders (such as personality disorder) and childhood trauma, instability, and other stressors may play an integral role in the development of specific personality disorders.
If you think you might be experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, please get in touch with one of our friendly, mental health specialists at White River Manor who can help.