An anxious personality disorder is expressed through poor self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence in social situations. There are different degrees of personality disorders, and when treating personality disorders, the focus is on how experiences earlier in life have left a mark on the way you meet other people.
What is personality and personality disorder?
A person’s personality is the inner core that is more or less unchanged across different relationships and situations. Personality includes one’s characteristic way of thinking, one’s immediate way of perceiving oneself and others, one’s typical ways of acting and one’s general ability to adapt in social situations.
One’s personality is also important for the ability to establish and maintain mature and deep relationships, to be able to regulate emotions, to maintain short- and long-term goals, to act in a stable and flexible way, to be independent and to have a perception of reality that fits with the realities.
When you have a well-developed and well-functioning personality, you trust other people, you feel respected and you have a stable and realistic view of yourself and others. One also reacts in a relatively predictable and understandable way in social relationships, and one’s surroundings are therefore rarely surprised or frightened by one’s emotional reactions.
When you have a personality disorder, it can be difficult to find the right balance between closeness and distance. One can become excessively dependent on the company and attention of others, or on the other hand have a great need to withdraw from social communities and close relationships.
It is often in the close and more committed relationships that personality disorders are expressed. Relatives are therefore often most affected. It can be difficult, for example, when one’s parent or boyfriend prefers to avoid social gatherings and communities.
If you grow up as a child with an anxious parent, you can experience that the world and other people are dangerous. And if you grow up with little contact with other people, you better not train your social skills.
In some cases, there may be alcohol or drug addiction as an attempt to manage the anxiety, which also affects those around one. It is known that both anxiety and personality problems are often associated with inappropriate self-medication.
How is anxious personality disorder diagnosed?
A personality disorder is diagnosed on the basis of a psychiatric examination or investigation, usually by a psychologist or psychiatrist with expertise in the field. It is important to proceed systematically and rule out other diagnoses, such as other personality disorders, depression or anxiety disorders.
In order to make the diagnosis, it is important to assess the duration of the disorder and how intrusive the problems are in the person’s life. The challenges of assessing oneself and others in a sufficiently nuanced way and the difficulties of being in stable relationships must have been there since the teenage years.
When you make the diagnosis, you assess whether the person’s level of functioning is affected, such as the ability to attend to their studies, maintain a job, be in a stable relationship or family life and deal with everyday challenges on their own. Personality disorders can often be seen early in life, but the diagnosis is usually made only when the person concerned is an adult and the personality is more fully developed.