Common Personality Disorders in Teens and Young Adults

Teens and young adults experience emotional distress as they mature. For example, anxiety about school, or short periods of depression. When symptoms persist, it may be time to seek professional assistance. Mental health includes emotional well-being, psychological well-being, and social well-being. 

While most youth are emotionally healthy, one in four teens and young adults meet the criteria for a mental disorder. As a result, they may face discrimination and negative attitudes. Most teens can successfully navigate the challenges of a mental health disorder. To do so it is vital they have access to treatment which can include peer and professional support and services. 

The presence or absence of various combinations of protective and risk factors contributes to youth mental health. Youth with mental health disorders may face challenges in their homes, schools, communities, and interpersonal relationships. Developing a strong family and social support network can make all the difference.   

What Are Personality Disorders? 

Personality disorders are mental health disorders that usually begin during adolescence. Personality disorders typically emerge in adolescence and continue into adulthood. They may be mild, moderate, or severe, and people may have periods of “remission” where they function well. Personality disorders may be associated with genetic and family factors. Personal disorders often develop when someone experiences a distressing childhood, neglect, or abuse. 

How Do Personality Disorders Impact Teens? 

Teenage personality disorders can significantly disrupt teens’ identities and relationships. Moreover, untreated personality disorders can lead to social isolation and/or substance abuse. Personality disorders typically involve unhealthy patterns of thinking, functioning, and behavior. Teens with personality disorders have difficulty understanding and relating to others. As a result, their family connections, social life, and academic progress may suffer.  

In many cases what treatment options are available depend on which personality disorder someone is diagnosed with. There are three main types of personality disorders labeled Cluster A, B, and C. Each type of personality disorder leads itself to a different type of treatment. This reminds us it is not a one size fits all situation.

Cluster A Personality Disorders 

A teen with a Cluster A personality disorder has difficulty relating to others. They usually show patterns of behavior most others regard as odd and eccentric. Others may describe them as living in a fantasy world of their own. 

An example is paranoid personality disorder, where a teen is extremely distrustful and suspicious. The teen might hold intense (erroneous) feelings that others are dangerous and always out to get them. This can lead to a myriad of unhealthy social and emotional reactions. Paranoia surfaces in young people for many reasons. These reasons include having confusing or unsettling experiences or feelings, being anxious or worried a lot, having low self-esteem, expecting rejections, being isolated, and experiencing past trauma. 

Cluster B Personality Disorders 

A teen with a Cluster B personality disorder struggles to regulate their feelings and often swings between positive and negative views of others. This can lead to dramatic, unpredictable behavior patterns. 

An example is borderline personality disorder. So what is BPD? BPD is where a teen is emotionally unstable, has impulses to self-harm, and has intense and unstable relationships with others. Borderline personality disorder, BPD, is very difficult to diagnose in young people because its symptoms strongly mirror symptoms of other mental health disorders. Borderline personality disorder was once considered a lifelong disorder, but recent research indicates otherwise. Teens often outgrow BPD as they reach young adulthood. 

Cluster C Personality Disorders 

A teen with a Cluster C personality disorder struggles with persistent and overwhelming feelings of fear and anxiety. They may show patterns of behavior most others consider antisocial and withdrawn. 

An example is avoidant personality disorder, where a teen appears painfully shy, socially inhibited, feels inadequate and is extremely sensitive to rejection. The teen may want to be close to others but lacks the confidence to form a close relationship. Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by social discomfort and avoidance of interpersonal contact. Someone with an avoidant personality disorder avoids intimate and social contact with others. Teens who are avoidant may be extremely shy, fear ridicule, and worry about looking foolish. Talk therapy is the main treatment while drugs, including antidepressants, may help with some symptoms.

To ensure that your child’s personality disorder can be controlled or remedied, it’s best to consult a therapist so they can assess the situation and suggest some treatments. If you don’t know where to start, finding one is almost the same as finding other medical experts. For example, when finding a dentist, you can search for a term like “dentist near me los stockton“. So, when finding a therapist, you can simply search for a phrase like “therapist near me”.