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A Short Guide on Overcoming Personality Disorders

Dr. Aafia Malik

2 min read

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Personality disorders are defined as persistent, long-term changes in behavior and thinking that not only cause distress to the affected individual but also affect the people around them. But with the right treatment, and some personal effort, a happy and successful life can be guaranteed.

However, the general treatment duration for a personality disorder ranges from a few months to years; as each disorder is unique and involves the adoption of an entirely new set of habits and thinking patterns. That being said, here are some effective treatment options according to the top psychiatrists in Pakistan.

1- Medication:

Although no specific medications exist for personality disorder treatment, certain medication may be prescribed for controlling symptoms like depression, anxiety, and psychosis (losing touch with reality) as a short-term solution, or to treat an underlying health issue:

  • Antidepressants for managing depression, hopelessness, impulsivity, irritability and anger.
  • Anti-Anxiety Medication for dealing with agitation, anxiety, insomnia, fear, and perfectionism. However, they are generally avoided in patients with a cluster B disorder as they increase impulsivity.
  • Antipsychotics for psychosis and certain cases of anger and anxiety.
  • Mood Stabilizers for managing mood swings and the resultant aggression, irritability, and impulsivity.

2- Therapy:

In addition to educating the patient and their family on the disorder and possible contributing factors, psycho- or ‘talk’ therapy provides an outlet for the patient to express their thoughts and feelings, while also helping reduce troublesome behavior and equip them with relevant coping mechanisms. Since each personality is unique and requires a different treatment approach, the following forms of psychotherapy are commonly employed in different combinations according to the type of disorder:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) aid in change thinking and behavioral patterns by helping patients understand the relationship feelings, thoughts, and behavior.
  • Cognitive Analytical Therapy (CAT) helps individuals figure how they relate to others and what they can do to improve their interpersonal relationships.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) helps with emotion and impulse management through various coping skills and techniques. It is particularly employed for treating Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
  • Mentalisation Based Therapy (MBT) helps understand and improve what the patient thinks of themselves and others, i.e. their mental state.
  • Art Therapies utilize artistic mediums like dance, music, fine art, and drama, to help patients recognize their thoughts and behavior, and express them in a positive manner.
  • Schema Therapy helps alter or suppress the negative, and strengthen helpful thinking patterns.

3- Self-Care:

Therapy and medication can only get one so far. Individuals must learn to take charge of their own lives and optimize their treatment in the following ways:

  • Be open with your doctor and therapist. Make a care plan, discuss all treatment options, and define what you want out of your treatment.
  • NEVER skip a therapy session or a medical checkup.
  • Always take your medication as directed. If you experience unpleasant symptoms, consult with your doctor instead of self-discontinuation, as it can often backfire as withdrawal-like symptoms.
  • Take up a sport or hobby like running, swimming, and gardening to ward off depression, anxiety and other symptoms.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol.

4- Pitching In:

Personality disorder treatment is an all-inclusive effort; meaning that in addition to the patient, their medical practitioner and therapist, family members and significant others should also aid in the recovery effort. Here’s how:

  • Learn more about their particular disorder.
  • Avoid judging them without listening to their side of the story first.
  • Constantly keep reminding them of their positive attributes.
  • Try not to get into a heated argument with one another in the event of an emotional outburst. Instead, try practicing patience, empathy, and talk to them calmly and compassionately.
  • Be prepared for all situations if the person displays impulsiveness and suicidal tendencies.
  • Caring for or being in a relationship with someone can be emotionally taxing. Remember to care for yourself too by periodically relieving stress through healthy means, taking time off, and seeing a therapist, if needed.

Although everyone displays the telltale signs of a personality disorder at some point in their lives due to circumstantial changes, to be diagnosed with a personality disorder, an individual must possess two or more of the defining traits, i.e. distorted thinking, problems with emotional response, behavioral control issues, and trouble with interpersonal relationships and relating to others for at least a year prior to diagnosis.

If that is the case do not hesitate to reach out for help. You can also book appointment with a top Psychiatrist in Islamabad, Multan and Karachi through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your mental health concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Aafia Malik - Author Dr. Aafia Malik is a psychiatrist with over 10 years of experience. Despite the taboo in Pakistan around mental health and psychology in general, Dr. Aafia Malik has managed to have a fruitful decade long experience in practicing so far and she has also played her part in raising awareness and breaking the taboos around mental health.
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