The National Institute on Mental Illness estimated in 2007 that 9.1% of the population had a personality disorder in the United States, and that number has likely grown. Personality disorders are characterized by mood swings, along with the way a person views themselves, others, and the world. Undiagnosed personality disorders can significantly affect the way a person lives day to day, and can cause much distress to a person as they experience challenges in their work, home, and social life.
Research has shown that personality disorders are caused by a multitude of factors: genetics, childhood trauma, verbal abuse, high reactivity, and other environmental factors. Let’s explore each of these with research:
Genetics – A 2010 study published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience found that genes can influence the development of a personality disorder. In particular, if a person is more vulnerable to pathology or negative emotionality, high impulsivity and low agreeableness, and introversion, they are more likely to develop a personality disorder. The study further stated that genes that are linked to neurotransmitter pathways, specifically involving serotonin and dopamine, can increase the susceptibility that a person has in developing a disorder.
Childhood trauma – According to the American Psychological Association, studies have shown that childhood trauma – and sometimes even the number and type of trauma experienced – in childhood can increase the risk factors of a person developing a personality disorder. A study conducted by researchers in China and Australia examined 1402 patients and found that childhood maltreatment had a strong association with most personality disorders.
Verbal abuse – A study published in Comprehensive Psychiatry found that verbal abuse alone can increase the chances of a person developing a personality disorder. The study found that children who experienced verbal abuse were more than 3 times as likely than those who did not experience verbal abuse to have borderline, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive, and paranoid personality disorders during their adolescence or childhood.
High reactivity – Childhood reactivity has been shown increasingly in patients who develop borderline personality disorder. Emotional hyper reactivity is when a person is extremely sensitive to both internal and external stimuli – their senses become easily aroused and they may seem to overly react to things.
Other environmental factors can include connections with peers at a young age, as well as any substance abuse. If you have been diagnosed with a personality disorder and are ready to be on your way to recovery, make the decision to seek help today.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. There are many tools you can use to succeed.