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Mental Health Conditions

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Personality Related Conditions

Personality disorders are characterized by patterns of perceiving, reacting, and relating that are relatively inflexible and socially maladaptive.

Everyone has characteristic patterns of perceiving and relating to other people and events (personality traits). Put another way, people tend to cope with stresses in an individual but repetitive style. For example, some people respond to a troubling situation by seeking someone else's help, whereas others prefer to deal with problems on their own. Some people minimize problems; others exaggerate them. Regardless of their usual style, however, mentally healthy people are likely to try an alternative approach if their first response is ineffective.

In contrast, people with personality disorders are rigid and tend to respond inappropriately to problems, to the point that relationships with family, friends, and co-workers are affected. These maladaptive responses usually begin in adolescence or early adulthood and do not change over time.

People with personality disorders are unaware that their thought or behaviour patterns are inappropriate; thus they tend not to seek help on their own. Instead, they may be referred by their friends, their family, or a social agency because their behaviour is causing difficulty for others. When they do seek help on their own, usually because of troubling symptoms (for example, anxiety, depression, or substance abuse), they tend to believe their problems are caused by other people or by circumstances beyond their control.

Personality disorders are grouped into three clusters. Cluster A personality disorders involve odd or eccentric behaviour; cluster B, dramatic or erratic behaviour; and cluster C, anxious or inhibited behaviour.

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