The more successful form of treatment depends on your particular personality disorder. The severity of the disorder as well as your life situation must also be considered when choosing the most appropriate treatment.
A team approach is often needed in order to ensure that all of your psychiatric, medical and social needs are met. Since personality disorders are long-standing, treatment may require months or years. Your treatment team may include your primary doctor or other primary care provider as well as a:
- Psychologist or other therapist
- Psychiatric nurse
- Social worker
Depending on the severity of your symptoms and how well-controlled they are, you may need treatment from only your primary doctor, a psychiatrist, or other therapist. If possible, find a mental health professional with experience in treating personality disorders.
Psychotherapy, also referred to as talk therapy, is one of the main ways to treat personality disorders. During psychotherapy with a mental health professional, you can learn more about your condition as you talk about your moods, feelings, thoughts and behaviors. You can also learn to cope with stress and ways to manage your disorder.
Psychotherapy can be provided as individual sessions, group therapy, or sessions that include family or friends. There are several types of psychotherapy and your mental health professional can determine which one is best for you.
Through psychotherapy, you may also receive social skills training. During this training you can use the insight and knowledge you gain to learn healthy ways to manage your symptoms and reduce behaviors that interfere with your functioning and relationships.
Family therapy provides support and education to families dealing with a family member who has a personality disorder.
Currently, there are no medications specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat personality disorders. However, several types of psychiatric medications are believed to help aid various personality disorder symptoms.
- Antidepressants- These may be useful if you have a depressed mood, anger, impulsivity, irritability or hopelessness, which may be associated with personality disorders.
- Mood stabilizers- As their name suggests, mood stabilizers can help balance mood swings or reduce irritability, impulsivity and aggression.
- Antipsychotic medications- Also called neuroleptics, these may be helpful if your symptoms include losing touch with reality, psychosis, or in some cases if you have anxiety or anger problems.
- Anti-anxiety medications- These may help if you have anxiety, agitation or insomnia. However, in some cases they may increase impulsive behavior, so they’re avoided in certain types of personality disorders.
Hospital and Residential Treatment Programs
In some instances, a personality disorder may be so severe that the patient needs to be admitted to a hospital for psychiatric care. This is typically recommended when a person can’t care for themselves properly or when they’re in immediate danger of harming themselves or others.
After the patient becomes more stable in the hospital, the doctor may recommend a day hospital program, residential program, or outpatient treatment.
Lifestyle and home remedies
In addition to a professional treatment plan, consider these lifestyle and self-care strategies:
- Be an active participant in your care. This can help your efforts to manage your personality disorder. Think about your goals for treatment and work toward achieving them. Don’t skip therapy sessions, even if you don’t feel like going. Take your medications as directed. Even if you’re feeling well, don’t skip your medications. If you stop, symptoms may come back. You could also experience withdrawal-like symptoms from stopping a medication too suddenly.
- Learn about your condition. Education about your condition can empower you and motivate you to stick to your treatment plan.
- Get active. Physical activity can help manage many symptoms, such as depression, stress and anxiety. Activity is also known to counteract the effects of some psychiatric medications that may cause weight gain. Consider walking, jogging, swimming, gardening or taking up another form of physical activity that you enjoy.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. Alcohol and other drugs can worsen personality disorder symptoms and negatively interfere with medications.
- Get routine medical care. Don’t neglect checkups or skip visits to your primary care professional, especially if you aren’t feeling well. You may have a new health problem that needs to be addressed, or you may be experiencing side effects of medication.
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