Although we still have a long way to go, more and more people have started to speak up about mental health in recent years. This has led to the awareness of a number of different mental health concerns, including personality disorders.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health or NIMH, well over half of those with a personality disorder have a comorbid condition of some kind. So, what are some common comorbidities seen in those with personality disorders, and how are they addressed?
About Personality Disorders
First, what are personality disorders? Personality disorders are characterized by ongoing or persistent maladaptive patterns of cognition, behavior, and affect that pair with clinically significant distress and impairment.
Most personality disorders can be grouped into one of three clusters: Cluster A, B, and C. Although they share some similarities, each personality disorder within these clusters is characterized by a different set of symptoms and diagnostic criteria.
- Cluster A personality disorders include Schizotypal Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, and Paranoid Personality Disorder.
- Cluster B personality disorders include Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
- Cluster C personality disorders include Avoidant Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.
Note that there are other diagnoses under the category of personality disorders that may occur in certain situations, such as Unspecified Personality Disorder.
Definition And Common Comorbidities
In medicine, comorbidity refers to a co-occurring or simultaneously occurring medical or mental health condition. So, for example, if someone has a borderline personality disorder (BPD) and an anxiety disorder, it may be referred to as comorbidity or a comorbid condition.
For those with mental health conditions of any kind, it is not uncommon to have a comorbid or co-occurring condition. Comorbidities frequently seen in those with personality disorders include but aren’t limited to:
Not only are anxiety disorders some of the most common mental health conditions across the board, but they’re also one of the most common comorbid conditions seen in those with personality disorders.
Statistics indicate that it’s more likely to have an anxiety disorder if you have a personality disorder when compared to the rates of anxiety disorder seen in the general population.
Substance Use Disorders
Substance use disorders*, including but not limited to alcohol use disorder, are unfortunately common comorbidities among those with personality disorders.
Alcohol use disorder is only one example of a substance use disorder, but it is a prevalent one, with about 14.5 million people above the age of 12 living with alcohol use disorder in the United States alone.
Depressive disorders, like anxiety disorders, are considered very common mental health conditions. Symptoms of depression may include but aren’t limited to a low or depressed mood, the loss of interest in activities one would typically enjoy, feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, changes in appetite, sleeping too much or too little, body aches and pains, fatigue, excessive crying, emotional numbness, and irritability.
As for physical implications, mental health conditions, including some personality disorders, are affiliated with an increased risk of chronic pain and hypertension.
*If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-(800)662-4357 or visit the SAMHSA website here.
Diagnosis And Treatment
For a diagnosis of any mental health condition, you must see a qualified provider such as a primary care physician or psychiatrist. Therapy, medication, or a combination of both, are commonly used to treat mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders and depressive disorders.
Please consult with your doctor or primary care physician before considering any medication options. As for substance use disorders, a number of treatments can be used.
Inpatient, residential, and outpatient treatment options are all common. The correct treatment for you may not be the right treatment for another person, so it is imperative that you speak with a medical or mental health professional who can help you determine the right treatment for you.
The good news about personality disorders, as well as substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, and depressive disorders, is that they’re all treatable conditions.
It’s imperative to reach out if you’re struggling with a mental health condition of any kind or think that you might be; with the right kind of support, symptoms can improve.
Find A Therapist
Whether you’re struggling with symptoms of a mental health condition, interpersonal relationships, stress, a life transition, or something else that’s on your mind, a therapist or counselor can help.
Everyone needs someone to talk to from time to time, and you don’t have to have a mental health diagnosis to see a therapist.
To find a therapist, you can ask your doctor for a referral, contact your insurance company to see who they cover, search the web, or sign up for a reputable online therapy platform like BetterHelp.
All of the providers on the BetterHelp platform are licensed, and online therapy is often more affordable than traditional in-person services are without insurance.
Regardless of how you find a provider, you deserve to get the support you need and thrive, so don’t hesitate to take the first step today.