SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
General symptoms of a personality disorder
Personality disorder symptoms include:
- Frequent mood swings
- Stormy relationships
- Social isolation
- Angry outbursts
- Suspicion and mistrust of others
- Difficulty making friends
- A need for instant gratification
- Poor impulse control
- Alcohol or substance abuse
Specific types of personality disorders
The specific types of personality disorders are grouped into three clusters based on similar characteristics and symptoms. Many people with one diagnosed personality disorder also have signs and symptoms of at least one additional personality disorder.
Cluster A personality disorders
These are personality disorders characterized by odd, eccentric thinking or behavior and include:
Paranoid personality disorder
- Distrust and suspicion of others
- Believing that others are trying to harm you
- Emotional detachment
Schizoid personality disorder
- Lack of interest in social relationships
- Limited range of emotional expression
- Inability to pick up normal social cues
- Appearing dull or indifferent to others
Schizotypal personality disorder
- Peculiar dress, thinking, beliefs or behavior
- Perceptual alterations, such as those affecting touch
- Discomfort in close relationships
- Flat emotions or inappropriate emotional responses
- Indifference to others
- "Magical thinking" — believing you can influence people and events with your thoughts
- Believing that messages are hidden for you in public speeches or displays
Cluster B personality disorders
These are personality disorders characterized by dramatic, overly emotional thinking or behavior and include:
Antisocial (formerly called sociopathic) personality disorder
- Disregard for others
- Persistent lying or stealing
- Recurring difficulties with the law
- Repeatedly violating the rights of others
- Aggressive, often violent behavior
- Disregard for the safety of self or others
Borderline personality disorder
- Impulsive and risky behavior
- Volatile relationships
- Unstable mood
- Suicidal behavior
- Fear of being alone
Histrionic personality disorder
- Constantly seeking attention
- Excessively emotional
- Extreme sensitivity to others' approval
- Unstable mood
- Excessive concern with physical appearance
Narcissistic personality disorder
Believing that you're better than others
- Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
- Exaggerating your achievements or talents
- Expecting constant praise and admiration
- Failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings
Cluster C personality disorders
These are personality disorders characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior and include:
Avoidant personality disorder
- Hypersensitivity to criticism or rejection
- Feeling inadequate
- Social isolation
- Extreme shyness in social situations
Dependent personality disorder
- Excessive dependence on others
- Submissiveness toward others
- A desire to be taken care of
- Tolerance of poor or abusive treatment
- Urgent need to start a new relationship when one has ended
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
- Preoccupation with orderliness and rules
- Extreme perfectionism
- Desire to be in control of situations
- Inability to discard broken or worthless objects
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder isn't the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder, a type of anxiety disorder.
When to see a doctor
If you have any signs or symptoms of a personality disorder, see your doctor, mental health provider or other health care professional. Untreated, personality disorders can cause significant problems in your life, and they may get worse without treatment.
Helping a loved one
If you have a loved one who you think may have symptoms of a personality disorder, have an open and honest discussion about your concerns. You may not be able to force someone to seek professional care, but you can offer encouragement and support. You can also help your loved one find a qualified doctor or mental health provider and make an appointment. You may even be able to go to an appointment with him or her.
If you have a loved one who has harmed himself or herself, or is seriously considering doing so, take him or her to the hospital or call for emergency help.
- Personality disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed May 11, 2010.
- Personality disorders. In: Hales RE, et al., eds. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2008. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed May 11, 2010.
- Lenzenweger MF. Epidemiology of personality disorders. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2008;31:395.
- Cohen P. Child development and personality disorder. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2008;31:477.
- Devens M. Personality disorders. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. 2007;34:445.
- Silk KR. Personality disorders. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed May 11, 2010.
- Skodol AE, et al. The future of personality disorders in DSM-V? American Journal of Psychiatry. 2009;166:388.
- Livesly WJ. Research trends and directions in the study of personality disorder. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2008;31:545.
- Staying well when you have a mental health condition. Mental Health America. http://www.nmha.org/go/mental-health-month/staying-well-when-you-have-a-mental-illness. Accessed May 11, 2010.
- Shipman K, et al. Mental health treatment of child abuse and neglect: The promise of evidence-based practice. Pediatric Clinics of North America. 2009;56:417.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 12, 2010.