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How to Help Someone With Personality Disorders

Dealing with a personality disorder can be incredibly difficult, whether you’re the one suffering or you’re offering a friend or family member support with their condition. These problems normally require the help of a professional who is knowledgeable and has the resources available to truly offer relief. Thankfully, there are centers all across the country qualified to provide these things.

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Understanding Personality Disorders

Personality disorders can vary greatly between individuals, something that can complicate a diagnosis. According to the Mayo Clinic, personality disorders are grouped into clusters with similar disorders based on the types of behaviors patients exhibit. These are commonly sorted into groups:

A combination of disorders belonging to two or more clusters is common as well.

How to Diagnose a Personality Disorder

Many people who lack medical training use the Internet to diagnose themselves or their friends. It’s a trend that’s understandable but dangerous. Dr. Natasha Burgert claims that people searching for health information over the Internet often get distracted by information that makes them emotional. Once that happens, the diagnosis seems to stick whether it’s correct or not. Not only can you make yourself upset over nothing but also you could wind up reassured when you really need help.

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How to Recognize a Personality Disorder

That isn’t to say you can’t use online tools to determine whether or not you should seek help. When it comes to personality disorders, people sometimes resist seeing a doctor. They may think that others are blowing their symptoms out of proportion or, worse, that if they do seek help they’ll be judged instead of treated. Unless they’re seriously concerned, most people will avoid getting help.

According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), the following are signs you or a friend may have an undiagnosed personality disorder:

Steps You Can Take to Help Someone With a Personality Disorder

Getting a diagnosis is a starting point for people who suffer from personality disorders. You may be worried about someone getting angry at you if you bring it up, but the alternative is much worse. Some personality disorders come with the risk of suicide or self-harm. Others include risky behaviors that could land someone in jail.

Once someone realizes that their thoughts and behaviors are having a bad impact on their lives, a diagnosis can help them find a way to work against those challenges. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy talking to someone about seeing a therapist.

Talking to Someone With a Personality Disorder

Mental health advocate Julie K. Hersch describes the five-stage process of acceptance that someone with mental personality issues typically goes through. It may help to tailor how you approach someone based on the stage of acceptance they appear to be in.

Adolescents and Teens

It’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between childhood behaviors, teen angst and true personality disorders. When in doubt, it’s best to get a professional opinion. Talking to a child or teen before or after that stage can be daunting. The Ventura County Behavioral Health Department recommends the following:

Learning to Cope With a Personality Disorder

There’s a misconception that personality disorders are always permanent when, in fact, many times these problems go away with the right treatment. Alexander Chapman, PhD, president of the DBT Centre of Vancouver, notes that hospital treatment effectively cures 70 percent of patients with borderline personality disorder. Of those patients, 94 percent won’t experience an episode again. The myths that all disorders are difficult-to-impossible to treat and guaranteed to reoccur are just that: bad information.

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How to Treat Personality Disorder

Therapy is the cornerstone of treatment for most personality disorders. One of the most effective new techniques is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). It combines counseling with group therapy and training sessions. Patients are schooled in the arts of mindfulness, emotion regulation and distress tolerance. In contrast, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on controlling emotions by changing the thought processes that create them. In some instances, medication is helpful in controlling problematic behaviors as well.

Deciding Between Possible Personality Disorder Solutions

Because personality disorders can manifest themselves in different ways, one type of treatment shouldn’t be hailed as the best or most appropriate without a medical evaluation by an experienced doctor. Work with professionals who’ve treated personality disorder patients in the past and have kept current on treatments. These are the best people to look to for opinions on the most effective therapies and medications for people suffering from specific conditions.

Where to Find Personality-Related Treatment for a Friend or Family Member

Learning to deal with a friend or family member’s personality disorder can be difficult, especially if treatment hasn’t been embraced. DBT expert, Michael Baugh, LCSW, encourages people to validate what they can. For instance, focus on the things they have done right and remind yourself how you might act if you had the same problem. You can also search for a support group or work with your own therapist when supporting your loved one.

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