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Teenage personality disorders are not uncommon, as adolescence is a time of psychological disruption and chaos where all kinds of personality traits can look like they are disordered {learn more about Upwell’s FIDO chart to record behaviors and discover patterns}.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) lists ten personality disorders that are classified into clusters. Although each personality disorder has distinct characteristics, each of the different personality disorders is categorized into one of three clusters (cluster A, cluster B, and cluster C). The ten types of personality disorders and their associated clusters, as provided by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) include:

  • Cluster A: characterized as odd or eccentric personalities
    • Paranoid: mistrust and suspicion
    • Schizoid: disinterest in others
    • Schizotypal: eccentric ideas and behavior
  • Cluster B: characterized as dramatic, emotional, or erratic personalities
    • Antisocial: disregard for others, manipulation of others for personal gain, social irresponsibility
    • Borderline: intolerance of being alone and emotional dysregulation
    • Histrionic: attention-seeking
    • Narcissistic: fragile self-esteem, underlying dysregulation, overt grandiosity
  • Cluster C: characterized as anxious or fearful personalities
    • Avoidant: avoidance of interpersonal contact due to rejection sensitivity
    • Dependent: submissive and a need to be taken care of
    • Obsessive-compulsive: rigidity, obstinacy, and perfectionism

The personality disorders that make up each cluster share similar symptoms and have overlapping characteristics. Teenagers with a personality disorder have a rigid, unhealthy way of thinking, behaving, and relating to people and situations, including themselves. It is important to note that there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose personality disorders. Though there are a variety of self-screening personality disorder tests available, in order to obtain proper treatment it is essential to be professionally evaluated and diagnosed by a qualified mental health provider.

Teen Personality Disorder Diagnostic Criteria

The cause for the development of a personality disorder in teenagers remains unknown. Research suggests that it is likely due to a combination of contributing factors such as psychological, environmental, genetic, and developmental factors. The diagnosis of a teen personality disorder, according to the DSM-5 and explicitly outlined by the Mayo Clinic, generally includes “long-term marked deviation from cultural expectations that lead to significant distress or impairment” in a minimum of two of the following areas:

  • The way you perceive and interpret yourself, other people, and events
  • The appropriateness of your emotional responses
  • How well you function when dealing with other people and in relationships
  • Whether you can control your impulses

It is possible for a teenage personality disorder to present with symptoms associated with more than one personality disorder. The effects that manifest in a teenager with a personality disorder will depend on a variety of contributing factors. The fact that many personality disorders share symptoms, contributes to the known difficulty of accurately diagnosing personality disorders in teens, a common phenomenon that exists in the mental health field.

Further Information and Support

Navigating the challenges that arise from living with mental illness, struggling with substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all-consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding mental illness, substance abuse, and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. At {Upwell Advisors}, we offer unique, customized concierge therapeutic services to provide our clients with unparalleled support throughout every step of the recovery process. 

Feel free to reach to contact us anytime via email at sean@upwelladvisors.com. We look forward to supporting you on your journey.

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