Is There a Treatment for Cluster C Personality Disorders?
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with a personality disorder, you may be nervous and apprehensive about what to expect next. A common question people have, is are there treatments for personality disorders. More specifically, is there a treatment for cluster C personality disorders? The answer is yes, there is treatment for cluster C personality disorders.
Even so, there isn’t a cure necessarily for personality disorders. For many people, treatment is long-term and is focused on managing symptoms and improving quality of life. Treatment for cluster C personality disorders often involves multiple health care providers working together, and a combination of approaches for the best outcomes.
Personality disorders are a set of 10 mental illnesses characterized in general by negative, rigid or unhealthy patterns of emotion, thinking, and behavior. Someone with a personality disorder will experience thoughts and exhibit behaviors considered outside of societal norms.
Personality disorders can be diagnosed based on their severity. It can be difficult for someone with an untreated personality disorder to function normally at school or work, and people with personality disorders tend to have a difficult time forming and maintaining relationships.
Frequently a person experiencing this kind of mental disorder won’t see that the problem lies within themselves and they will blame others.
Causes of personality disorders are believed to be genetic and also linked to early childhood experiences.
Cluster C Personality Disorders
Personality disorders are grouped into three categories, which are A, B and C.
Cluster A personality disorders lead to social problems and are characterized by eccentric or unusual behavior. Cluster A personality disorders including paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder.
Cluster B personality disorders include antisocial, borderline, histrionic and narcissistic personality disorder.
Cluster C personality disorders are defined by fearful and anxious behaviors. Specific cluster C personality disorders are:
- Avoidant Personality Disorder: Symptoms of this disorder include extreme shyness and a fear of rejection. Someone with avoidant personality disorder has problems forming relationships outside of their immediate family. They are extraordinarily sensitive to even the possibility of criticism, they feel inadequate, and they will often avoid social interactions with others.
- Dependent Personality Disorder: With this personality disorder, an affected person often relies entirely on other people to meet their needs, physically and emotionally. Dependent personality disorder includes a lack of self-confidence, fear of being alone, and being in unhealthy or abusive relationships.
- Obsessive-compulsive Personality Disorder: This is similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but without intrusive thoughts. Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder include preoccupation with schedule, rules, and Someone with this personality disorder will set impossible standards and has problems forming relationships because of an obsession with work or projects.
Diagnosing Cluster C Personality Disorders
Because personalities are all so unique and variable, it’s more difficult to diagnose cluster C personality disorders than a lot of other mental health disorders. There are criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) that health care providers can use to diagnose a personality disorder.
The diagnosis criteria look at how someone perceives themselves, other people and the world around them. To diagnosis cluster C personality disorders, also considered are emotional responses, how someone deals with other people in close relationships, and impulse control.
It’s helpful for health care providers to have permission to speak to the people who know a patient best during the diagnosis of a personality disorder as well. This could include a spouse or immediate family members.
Treatment for Cluster C Personality Disorders
When someone is diagnosed with a cluster C personality disorder, the next step is usually working with health care providers to create a treatment plan. Treatment plans for cluster C personality disorders can vary from person-to-person. It can take time and some experimentation to find the right treatment for cluster C personality disorders on an individual basis.
Psychotherapy or talk therapy is the primary form of treatment for cluster C personality disorders. Talk therapy allows someone with a personality disorder to work closely with a therapist and identify negative and harmful thought patterns and make changes over time.
Medication can also be used in some cases. There isn’t a specific medication approved for the treatment of personality disorders. Instead, specific symptoms can be treated using medications.
Someone with a personality disorder is also likely to have co-occurring mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression. Medication can help in the treatment of these symptoms as well.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is one of the most commonly used forms of psychotherapy for someone with personality disorders. It can be a valuable treatment for cluster C personality disorders.
CBT is also used for other co-occurring disorders like depression, anxiety, and alcohol and substance abuse problems.
CBT can significantly improve a person’s quality of life and functionality. It’s often more beneficial than medications for people with psychological disorders including personality disorders.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on certain principles which are:
- Psychological problems are partially or fully based on problematic or unhelpful thought patterns
- Learned patterns of negative behaviors are at least a partial basis for psychological problems
- If someone has a psychological problem including a personality disorder, they can learn more productive, helpful ways to cope with that problem and relieve their symptoms
The core objective of cognitive behavioral therapy is to help someone change how they think. Specific strategies used in cognitive behavioral therapy are:
- A patient will work on recognizing the distortions in their thinking that creates problems—then, the patient can start to see the distortions from within the framework of reality
- Someone participating in CBT can work on gaining more understanding about the behaviors and motivations of other people
- CBT can help someone learn problem-solving and coping skills that will help them in different situations
- This type of talk therapy can help someone learn to be more confident in their abilities
Other goals of CBT can include helping someone face fears instead of avoiding them, and learning how to calm their thinking and their body. In some ways, CBT can be seen as a self-help approach. Yes, the patient works with a therapist, but they are ultimately learning how to help themselves along the way.
Other forms of therapy less commonly used for the treatment of cluster C personality disorders are dialectical behavioral therapy and psychoanalytic therapy.
Medications Used for the Treatment of Cluster C Personality Disorders
A doctor may use psychiatric medications as an off-label treatment for personality disorders. Medications include:
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Mood stabilizers
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with a personality disorder, it’s important to seek treatment because it can drastically improve your life and prevent the complications that can occur with an untreated mental health disorder.