What Are the Cluster C Personality Disorders Treatment Options?
Personality disorders have a reputation for being difficult to treat. However, people often question are there cluster C personality disorders treatment options?
If so, what are the specific ways personality disorders are treated?
The general answer is that cluster C personality disorders are usually treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medication, but there’s more to it than that.
What Are Personality Disorders?
A personality disorder is a type of mental illness with far-reaching effects on a person’s life. Someone with a personality disorder will have problems handling their emotions and behavior, and their interactions with others. It’s important to treat personality disorders because they can cause significant distress and impairment in an affected person’s life and the lives of the people around them.
When someone has a personality disorder, they may find it difficult to work and maintain relationships.
Personality disorders are grouped into three categories which are A, B and C. In all, there are ten diagnosable personality disorders.
Cluster C personality disorders are characterized by intense anxiety and fear. The personality disorders that are cluster C include avoidant, dependent and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders.
Avoidant Personality Disorder
Avoidant personality disorder is marked by extreme shyness and an overwhelming fear of rejection not necessarily based in reality. If you struggle with avoidant personality disorder, you may feel alone, but at the same time, it can be difficult to create relationships outside of your closest family members.
Other signs and traits of avoidant personality disorder include:
- Being extremely sensitive of criticism or rejection whether it’s real or perceived
- Feeling inadequate
- Avoidance of social activities or interactions
- Not forming close relationships.
Dependent Personality Disorder
With dependent personality, an affected person relies on others in an unhealthy and often detrimental way.
Someone with a dependent personality disorder may feel as if they aren’t able to meet their own needs, both emotionally and physically. They need others to make decisions for them because they don’t trust their own judgment and decision-making.
Other signs of dependent personality disorder are:
- Lack of confidence to make even small, basic decisions
- Need to be taken care of by someone else
- Fear of being alone
- Problems disagreeing with another person
- Tolerating abuse or unhealthy relationships
- Extreme distress when relationships end
- Desperation to jump into new relationships
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is defined by someone who wants to maintain a sense of control, order and perfectionism. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder has many of the same symptoms as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) but without the intrusive thoughts of OCD.
Signs of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are:
- Being obsessed or focused on rules, details and schedules
- Putting more focus on work or projects than other areas of life
- Having very rigid, high standards for yourself and others
- Inability to delegate tasks
- Inflexibility regarding values and ethics
- Lack of affection toward others
- Tight control of money
How Can Cluster C Personality Disorders Be Diagnosed?
It can be more difficult to diagnose personality disorders than other mental health disorders. There isn’t a specific cluster C personality disorders test, but a health care provider can ask questions to determine a diagnosis.
With personality disorders, it can also be helpful if a health care provider has permission from the patient to ask people who know them well. This can include immediate family members and spouses.
When a doctor or health care provider is diagnosing cluster C personality disorders, they will usually do a psychiatric evaluation. This will be a discussion of a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) will be used.
Cluster C Personality Disorders Treatment
Different factors play a role in the cluster C personality disorders treatment plan a doctor may recommend. The severity of the disorder, as well as a person’s lifestyle and how it affects their life, are all taken into consideration. Cluster C personality disorders treatment is usually long-term and can take months or years.
A collaborative team approach is often used as well. The team to treat cluster C personality disorders may include a psychiatrist, a psychologist or therapist, and a pharmacist. A primary care provider is part of the treatment plan as well. For someone with a mild personality disorder, the treatment team may be smaller.
Psychotherapy to Treat Cluster C Personality Disorders
Psychotherapy or talk therapy is usually the foundation of a treatment plan for personality disorders.
During psychotherapy, you work with your therapist on a regular basis to talk about your emotions, moods, thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Different types of psychotherapy may be used, depending on the patient and their symptoms.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This is the most commonly utilized form of talk therapy to treat cluster C personality disorders. During CBT, patients can work with a therapist to learn more about their thoughts and perceptions. Unhealthy thoughts and beliefs can gradually be replaced with more healthy and positive perceptions. Many forms of CBT also utilize childhood experiences as a way to look for root causes of a personality disorder.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: DBT is sometimes used to treat personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder. Less commonly it’s used for cluster C personality disorders. During a DBT session, a therapist works with a patient to show them their thoughts are valid and the goal at the end is to have patients change behaviors that are unhealthy or disruptive to their daily life.
Medications to Treat Cluster C Personality Disorders
Another type of cluster C personality disorders treatment is medication. Currently, no medications are approved specifically for the treatment of cluster C personality disorders. Even so, doctors will often prescribe medicines to treat specific symptoms
Since people with cluster C personality disorders also often have co-occurring mental health disorders, medications can be helpful in this regard as well.
Medications that may be used to treat cluster C personality disorders are:
- Anti-anxiety medications
What usually happens with cluster C personality disorders is that a person’s treatment team will integrate a variety of treatment approaches for the best outcomes and management of symptoms.
Can Personality Disorders Be Cured?
While treatment can work well for the management of cluster C personality disorders, they aren’t a cure.
Treatment can lead to remission of certain symptoms or behaviors, however. It’s important that someone receive treatment for behavioral symptoms, and also treatment for more subtle symptoms of a personality disorder. If they receive comprehensive treatment, remission is fairly common.
Life with a cluster C personality disorder can be difficult. Realizing treatment is available and effective is an important part of improving your quality of life.