Personality disorders are more common than one might expect. While we don’t have the exact number, statistics looking at the past-year prevalence of personality disorders among adults from 2001-2003 found that 9.1% of the population experienced a personality disorder when the data was taken. But, what exactly are personality disorders? How are they treated, and can nature be used as a tool for those who are struggling with personality disorders and other concerns?
What Are Personality Disorders?
To start, what are personality disorders? Personality disorders are characterized by ongoing patterns of maladaptive behavior, affect, and cognition. Every personality disorder has different symptoms and criteria for diagnosis.
Most personality disorders are grouped into one of three clusters. Those clusters include Cluster A, which is characterized by odd or eccentric actions and thought patterns, Cluster B, which is characterized by unpredictability and intense or volatile emotionality, and Cluster C, which is characterized by fearful or anxious thoughts and behavioral patterns.
Note that having these traits on their own does not indicate that you have a personality disorder; personality disorders are diagnosed based on full sets of criteria that must be met, and they often have symptoms that overlap with other possible diagnoses, which is why it’s so crucial to see someone who is qualified to assess and diagnose individuals appropriately.
Outside of those three clusters, other personality disorder diagnoses may occur as well in some cases, such as other specified personality disorder or unspecified personality disorder. It’s common for those with personality disorders to face a number of different co-occurring or comorbid mental health conditions and concerns, such as anxiety, depression, substance use disorders, and eating disorders.
Treatment For Personality Disorders
Treatment for personality disorders varies based on the diagnosis a person has. For many disorders, treatment may include therapy, medication*, or a combination of both. Therapy can be a game-changer for those living with a wide range of mental health conditions, and it is the leading treatment for many mental health conditions.
Individual therapy, group therapy, and other forms of therapy can all be advantageous for those with personality disorders. Sometimes, inpatient, residential, or outpatient treatment programs are advantageous for those living with personality disorders and other mental health conditions, depending on their current needs.
Various modalities of therapy can be used to treat personality disorders, and the best line of treatment will depend largely on the specific diagnosis and the needs of the individual person. For example, DBT or dialectical behavioral therapy is a well-researched, non-invasive treatment that can help people with a large number of concerns, including borderline personality disorder (BPD), anxiety disorders, and more. DBT was created for BPD and is considered a leading treatment. Treatments for someone with a different disorder may be very different.
The best way to find the right treatment for you is to talk to a licensed medical or mental health provider, specifically one that specializes in your condition or concern. If you think you may have a personality disorder but aren’t sure, make sure to speak with a professional who is qualified to provide you with an adequate diagnosis, such as a psychiatrist.
As for nature, the act of being outdoors with no therapeutic intervention involved is not a treatment for personality disorders. However, it does come with an array of benefits that can be supportive for the health and wellness of anyone, including many people with mental health conditions.
*Please consult with your doctor or primary care provider (PCP) before considering any new medication options.
Therapeutic Benefits Of Nature
Nature offers an opportunity for grounding, mindfulness, and overall relief, which is just one reason why so many people seek it out and find advantages in spending time in nature. Here are some research-backed benefits of nature:
- Relief from symptoms of depression and anxiety. Since many people with personality disorders experience a comorbid mental health condition such as anxiety or depression, this is a relevant consideration.
- Lower blood pressure. There’s an increased risk of high blood pressure for those living with a variety of different mental health conditions, including some personality disorders, like BPD. Research indicates that outdoor activities can promote healthier blood pressure readings in some cases.
- Better sleep. People with mental health conditions are often more likely to struggle with sleep. Spending time outdoors during the day can help you sleep. If you struggle with sleep on an ongoing basis, it’s important to talk to a professional who can help.
Other benefits of nature include but aren’t limited to stress relief, increased concentration or focus, and more. So, can nature support your health? Absolutely, but it is not a replacement for seeing a therapist or any other medical or mental health provider. If you’re struggling or simply need someone to talk to, it’s imperative to reach out.
Find A Therapist
Whether you’re experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, life stress, or anything else that’s impacting your life, therapy can help. There are various ways to find a therapist. To find a therapist, you can search the web, contact your insurance company to see who they cover, ask your doctor for a referral, or sign up for a reputable online therapy platform with licensed providers such as BetterHelp. Regardless of how you find a therapist, you deserve to get the support you need, so don’t hesitate to start your search today.