Personality Disorders

How a Personality Disorder May Mean You’re Eligible for Disability Benefits

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), a personality disorder is an "enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectation of the individual's culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment." Because these disorders are chronic and pervasive, they can lead to serious impairments in daily life and functioning.

According to the Social Security Administration, a personality disorder exists when personality traits are inflexible and maladaptive and cause either significant impairment in social or occupational functioning or subjective distress.

Personality disorders can be disabling when, despite treatment, the individual continues to exhibit:

  1. Distrust and suspiciousness of others;
  2. Detachment from social relationships;
  3. Disregard for and violation of the rights of others;
  4. Instability of interpersonal relationships;
  5. Excessive emotionality and attention seeking;
  6. Feelings of inadequacy;
  7. Excessive need to be taken care of;
  8. Preoccupation with perfectionism and orderliness; or
  9. Recurrent, impulsive, aggressive behavioral outbursts.

And, result in an extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:

  1. Understand, remember, or apply information
  2. Interact with others
  3. Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace
  4. Adapt or manage oneself

The Social Security Administration recognizes physical and mental conditions as disabilities. If you suffer from a personality disorder or know someone who does, it’s possible to get Social Security Disability benefits. The extensive experience of the firm with issues of mental health conditions is that it is often critical to get the benefit of important information from family and friends. Get started by calling Nash Disability Law for a free consultation.

While a definitive cause has not been established, it’s likely that a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental variables contribute to the development of personality disorders.

Changes in how a person feels and distorted beliefs about other people can lead to odd behavior, which can be distressing and may upset others.

The main symptoms are:

  • being overwhelmed by negative feelings such as distress, anxiety, worthlessness or anger
  • avoiding other people and feeling empty and emotionally disconnected
  • difficulty managing negative feelings without self-harming (for example, abusing drugs and alcohol, or taking overdoses) or, in rare cases, threatening other people
  • odd behavior
  • difficulty maintaining stable and close relationships, especially with partners, children and professional careers
  • sometimes, periods of losing contact with reality

Symptoms typically get worse with stress.

People with personality disorders often have other mental health problems, especially depression and substance misuse.

Personality disorders typically emerge in adolescence and continue into adulthood.

They may be mild, moderate or severe, and people may have periods of 'remission' where they function well.

Personality disorders may be associated with genetic and family factors. Experiences of distress or fear during childhood, such as neglect or abuse, are common.

Several different types of personality disorder are recognized. They can be broadly grouped into one of three clusters – A, B or C – which are summarized below.

Cluster A personality disorders

A person with a cluster A personality disorder tends to have difficulty relating to others and usually shows patterns of behavior most people would regard as odd and eccentric. Others may describe them as living in a fantasy world of their own.

An example is paranoid personality disorder, where the person is extremely distrustful and suspicious.

Cluster B personality disorders

A person with a cluster B personality disorder struggles to regulate their feelings and often swings between positive and negative views of others. This can lead to patterns of behavior others describe as dramatic, unpredictable and disturbing.

An example is borderline personality disorder, where the person is emotionally unstable, has impulses to self-harm, and intense and unstable relationships with others.

Cluster C personality disorders

A person with a cluster C personality disorder struggles with persistent and overwhelming feelings of anxiety and fear. They may show patterns of behavior most people would regard as antisocial and withdrawn.

An example is avoidant personality disorder, where the person appears painfully shy, socially inhibited, feels inadequate and is extremely sensitive to rejection. The person may want to be close to others, but lacks confidence to form a close relationship.

Personality disorders can be disabling when , despite treatment, the individual continues to exhibit:

  1. Seclusiveness or autistic thinking; or
  2. Pathologically inappropriate suspiciousness or hostility; or
  3. Oddities of thought, perception, speech and behavior; or
  4. Persistent disturbances of mood or affect; or
  5. Pathological dependence, passivity, or aggressivity; or
  6. Intense and unstable interpersonal relationships and impulsive and damaging behavior;

AND
B. Resulting in at least two of the following:

  1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or
  2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or
  3. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or
  4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration

Different types of psychological therapies have been shown to help people with personality disorders. However, there is no single approach that suits everyone and treatment should be tailored to the individual. Not all talking therapies are effective and it is essential they are delivered by a trained therapist.

The Social Security Administration recognizes physical and mental conditions as disabilities. If you suffer from a personality disorder or know someone who does, it’s possible to get Social Security Disability benefits. Get started by calling Nash Disability Law for a free consultation.