Personality disorders are diagnosed in teens if their thoughts and behaviors lead to severe impairments in interpersonal functioning, and they display clear pathological personality traits. In order to distinguish a personality disorder from an isolated incident or potentially a different disorder, a teen must also consistently display signs and symptoms across situations and settings, and a specialist must determine their symptoms cannot be explained by a different medical condition, substance use, or a different psychological diagnosis.
Signs and Symptoms of Teen Personality Disorders
Personality disorders are diagnosed with an individual’s personality traits are not only antisocial or abnormal, but unyielding and inflexible. While personality disorders are split into several different diagnoses, these are guidelines for identifying a potential personality disorder rather than a one-to-one description of a typical case’s symptoms.
Because different symptoms can bleed together and teen personality disorders sometimes display signs of several different disorders, all personality disorders can be divided into three basic clusters. The signs and symptoms of teen personality disorders within the three clusters are:
Cluster A (the “odd, eccentric” cluster)
- Delusional levels of paranoia
- Taking innocent remarks as deeply personal
- Lack of interest in relationships of any kind
- Peculiar behavior and/or speech
- No sex drive
- Brief psychosis (strange or unusual sensory experiences)
Cluster B (the “dramatic, emotional, erratic” cluster)
- Excessively emotional to attract attention
- Fragile sense of self
- Lack of remorse and disregard for others
- Shallow or faked concern
Cluster C (the “anxious, fearful” cluster)
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Unable to take any criticism or praise
- Fear of disagreeing with others
- Irrational fear of being embarrassing or cringy
- Cannot start projects for fear of failure
- Seeking to always start a new relationship to avoid isolation
- Tolerating interpersonal abuse, even when presented with a way out
Types of Teen Personality Disorders
The three clusters can further be broken down into several different archetypal personality disorders. Some of these are characterized by one overarching theme or personality trait within each cluster. At Visions Treatment Centers, we treat cases of seven different personality disorders, namely:
Paranoid Personality Disorder
Characterized by irrational suspicions and paranoia of what others think.
Schizoid Personality Disorder
Characterized by severe detachment from others and most forms of pleasure.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Characterized by intensely eccentric behavior and episodes of mild psychosis.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Characterized by violence and aggression, and lack of regard for others.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Characterized by a mix of symptoms like mood and anxiety disorders, and a nonexistent sense of self.
Histrionic Personality Disorder
Characterized by attention-seeking and excessively dramatic behavior.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Characterized by strong narcissistic (self-important) tendencies.
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Teen Personality Disorder Treatment
Personality disorders encompass a long and complex list of symptoms, and as such, the therapies used to treat personality disorders vary greatly. At Visions, some of the treatments used in cases of a personality disorder include:
Different cases may require different medication. There is no FDA-approved medication for any specific personality disorder, but different drugs are useful in treating severe and harmful symptoms, including suicidal tendencies and hallucinations.
We use a variety of therapies to help teens with personality disorders. Some teens might respond better to being treated alongside their peers, or in a session with their family members. Some teens require social skills training to understand why their behavior might be unacceptable, or how and why they might behave differently, to develop healthier relationships.
Long-term treatment is always the goal at Visions. Not only do we coordinate with a teen’s loved ones and their community to ensure they continue to get the help they need, but our treatment focuses on helping teens identify ways to help themselves cope with recurring intrusive thoughts and behaviors. Teens learn to use things like art and music to cope with the urge to behave aberrantly and deal with stress more healthily.
At Visions, we take personality disorders very seriously and believe an individualized treatment approach can help teens diagnosed with personality disorders lead better lives. As such, a thorough assessment and diagnosis are critical. We coordinate with each teen’s mental healthcare provider as well as our team of specialists and licensed psychiatrists to definitively diagnose each patient and develop an effective treatment plan.