Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The treatment that's best for you depends on your particular personality disorder, its severity and your life situation. Often, a team approach is appropriate 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
  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychotherapist
  • Pharmacist
  • Family members
  • Social workers

If you have mild symptoms that are well controlled, you may need treatment from only your primary doctor, a psychiatrist or a therapist. If possible, find medical and mental health providers with experience in treating personality disorders.

Depending on your needs and type of personality disorder, treatment may include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Medications
  • Hospitalization

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is the main way to treat personality disorders. During psychotherapy, you learn about your condition and talk about your mood, feelings, thoughts and behaviors with a mental health provider. Using the insight and knowledge you gain, you can learn healthy ways to manage your symptoms and reduce behaviors that interfere with your functioning and relationships.

Psychotherapy may be provided in individual sessions, in group therapy, or in sessions that include family or even friends. There are several types of psychotherapy — your mental health provider can determine which one is best for you, depending on your needs.

Medications

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 some personality disorders.

Hospitalization and residential treatment programs

In some cases, a personality disorder may be so severe that you require psychiatric hospitalization. This is generally recommended only when you aren't able to 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 option.

Jan. 31, 2014

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