The treatment that's best for you depends on your particular personality disorder, its severity and your life situation. Often, a team approach is needed to make sure all of your psychiatric, medical and social needs are met. Because 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
If you have mild symptoms that are well-controlled, 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 called talk therapy, is the main way to treat personality disorders.
During psychotherapy with a mental health professional, you can learn about your condition and talk about your moods, feelings, thoughts and behaviors. You can learn to cope with stress and manage your disorder.
Psychotherapy may be provided in individual sessions, group therapy, or sessions that include family or even friends. There are several types of psychotherapy — your mental health professional can determine which one is best for you.
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.
There are no medications specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat personality disorders. However, several types of psychiatric medications may help with various personality disorder symptoms.
- Antidepressants. Antidepressants 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 even out 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. But in some cases, they can increase impulsive behavior, so they're avoided in certain types of personality disorders.
Hospital and residential treatment programs
In some cases, a personality disorder may be so severe that you need to be admitted to a hospital for psychiatric care. This is generally recommended only when you can't care for yourself properly or when you're in immediate danger of harming yourself or someone else.
After you become stable in the hospital, your doctor may recommend a day hospital program, residential program or outpatient treatment.