As parents and/or caretakers, we often have to walk a fine line in determining whether our teenager’s behavior is “just kids being kids,” or something more concerning like a personality disorder. We can often play the “second-guessing game” as we observe something that seems atypical in our child’s behavior. Then, we often play the compare and contrast game as we try to remember what we were like as teenagers. We also may try to asses whether their friends or cousins exhibit the same behaviors.
Unfortunately, personality disorders are not wholly preventable. It is important to remember that they are no one’s fault. However, it is important to note that some personality disorders can be attributed to abuse, in which case, yes, the abuser is absolutely at fault.
Nevertheless, while personality disorders are not preventable, they can be detected sooner rather than later by knowing the warning signs to watch for. The sooner a personality disorder is detected and diagnosed, the sooner a person can get well and get back to enjoying their day-to-day lives.
What Exactly Is a Personality Disorder?
Before being able to detect any mental health disorder, it is critical to first get an overarching grasp on what the disorder is. Regarding personality disorders, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) publication, Personality Disorder, by Kamron A. Fariba, Vikas Gupta, and Ethan Kass, states that “Personality disorders are pervasive, maladaptive, and chronic patterns of behavior, cognition, and mood.” The authors also state that “persons who have personality disorders experience distorted perceptions of reality and abnormal affective responses, ultimately manifesting in distress across all aspects of the individual’s life, including occupational difficulties, impaired social functioning, and interpersonal hardships.”
One can see that based on this broad definition, it may seem hard to distinguish between negative patterns of behavior that typically manifest in teenagers and patterns of behavior that constitute a personality disorder. However, because of the severity of the chronic patterns that constitute a personality disorder, they are easier to distinguish than many people think.
Of course, it’s only easy if the person knows what warning signs to look for. This also includes understanding the warning signs as related to the different types of personality disorders.
What Are the Types of Personality Disorders?
As with most mental health disorders, the category of “personality disorder” is not a single entity. There are many types of personality disorders that fall into the same category.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) lists ten specific types of personality disorders. Any of these personality disorders can indeed affect teenagers, but there are three that tend to be more common for younger people. These three are antisocial personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Understanding Antisocial Personality Disorder
A teen who is struggling with antisocial personality disorder often disregards the feelings and basic rights of others. They also tend to regularly lie and deceive others regarding their actions. Teenagers with antisocial personality disorder also tend to act impulsively and ignore “social norms.”
Understanding Avoidant Personality Disorder
A teen who is struggling with avoidant personality disorder tends to want to shy away from others. They also have self-confidence issues and will avoid engaging with others unless they feel that they will be perceived positively.
Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder
This is perhaps the most recognized personality disorder. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) also tends to be significantly more severe than the previous two disorders. According to the APA, “A person with borderline personality disorder may go to great lengths to avoid being abandoned, have repeated suicide attempts, display inappropriate intense anger, or have ongoing feelings of emptiness.”
What Are Some of the Warning Signs of a Personality Disorder?
After seeing the potential severity of the symptoms of a personality disorder, one can understand the need to intervene sooner rather than later. The following are just a few of the personality disorder warning signs to watch for in teens:
- A teen may start to take more risks and engage in dangerous behaviors.
- They may start to exhibit more suspicious and/or mistrustful behaviors.
- A teen may begin to start to struggle in school, without any other external causal factors.
- They may start to exhibit unexplained mood swings.
- A teen may exhibit constant attention and approval seeking.
- They may seem depressed and exhibit self-harming and/or suicidal behaviors.
If a teenager begins to show any or all of these behaviors, it is recommended that professional help be sought right away. Seeking help early could ensure that more severe symptoms don’t manifest down the road.
The Treatment Mission at Clearview Girls Academy
Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we have a mission to light all of our students’ paths to recovery. Our goal is to take away the darkness that mental illness has cast over them so they can begin to see themselves anew.
When new students come to us, they often don’t know where to turn. They are often flailing in the dark. We help them turn on the light so they can then turn around and light up their lives themselves. We help them find the switch, but they are the ones that have to flip it.
There are many types of personality disorders, all of which can cause serious disruption in your family’s life if your daughter is struggling with one. Of course, most importantly, a personality disorder can cause great distress for your cherished daughter. If you feel like your daughter is struggling with a personality disorder or any other issues of mental health, please know that you are not alone. We can help get her, and your entire family, on the positive path of long-term recovery. For more information on personality disorders, how to spot some of their warning signs and symptoms, and how they can best be treated, please reach out to Clearview Girls Academy today at (888) 796-5484.