Do personality disorders get worse with age? (3 insights)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “Do personality disorders get worse with age?” and explore what personality disorders are, their various types and their correlation with age in order to help understand the answer. 

Do personality disorders get worse with age?

Yes, some personality disorders get worse with age, while others improve with age. The following are 3 insights into how personality disorders evolve with age –

  • Some personality disorders become less problematic with age, while others become more problematic with age.
  • People with personality disorders do not recognise themselves as the problem.
  • Personality problems do not usually manifest themselves until later in life. 

What are these 3 insights into how personality disorders evolve with age?

Some personality disorders become less problematic with age, while others become more problematic with age.

People with personality problems, according to textbooks, do not change without assistance. However, it appears that certain problematic personalities are becoming less problematic as they age, while others are becoming more problematic.

You probably have no idea whether you have a personality disorder. You’re well aware that building solid partnerships are difficult for you. Both your professional and personal lives suffer as a result. 

However, you are likely to believe that it is others, not you, who are the issue. Treatments that benefit other individuals may not work as effectively for you if you also suffer from depression or anxiety.

Personality problems aren’t intended to alter significantly over time without the intervention of a psychiatrist or psychologist. 

According to a study published in The Lancet on June 29, most personality disorders, particularly those in the “odd/eccentric” and “anxious/fearful” clusters, worsen with age. Those in the “flamboyant” group, on the other hand, do a little better.

Tyrer, who is the director of the department of psychological medicine at Imperial College School of Medicine in London, started the research with 202 patients 12 years ago. 

All of them were being treated for depression, GAD, or panic disorder. More than half of the patients, according to Tyrer, had underlying personality abnormalities.

He recently located 178 of the patients and examined their symptoms once again. He discovered that the majority of them were more affected by their personality problems.

The findings were –

  • People with paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personalities make up the odd/eccentric group. Personality disorders of this severity are the most serious. Over time, the majority of these individuals became much less functioning.
  • People with avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personalities belong to the fearful/anxious cluster. These individuals also had much more trouble as time went on.
  • People with histrionic, antisocial, borderline, and narcissistic personalities make up the flamboyant cluster. With the exception of the borderlines, which are considered the hardest personality disorder to cure, these patients’ lives improved dramatically with time.

According to Tyrer, most personality problems improve as a person progresses from youth to middle age. However, when a person with one of these illnesses ages, the issues grow more severe.

“People with the type of personality condition that tends to isolate and isolate them more become worse — and that’s the characteristic of the odd/eccentric and fearful/anxious personalities,” Darwin explains. 

“Those with flamboyant personalities, whose personality problems tend to bring them into partnerships, tend to improve. Some personality problems, I believe, are more treatable than others.”

According to Darwin, the fundamental symptom — and issue — of persons with personality disorders is difficulty making connections. The desire to learn how to create connections is the first step on the road to recovery. 

People with personality disorders do not recognise themselves as the problem.

Unfortunately, persons with personality disorders do not recognise themselves as the problem, which is a Catch-22.

“It’s not that they don’t perceive anything wrong with themselves; it’s that they see the problem as ‘out there,’ rather than within themselves,” Darwin explains. “People with personality disorders have a propensity to externalise their problems. 

That is why they are often difficult to address since if you do not perceive your sorrow as originating from you, you will have little incentive to cope with the conflict that arises in psychotherapy.”

According to geropsychologist Erlene Rosowsky, PsyD, personality problems may appear to deteriorate with age, but the prevalence stays steady, with 10 percent -20 percent of adults 65 and older having a personality disorder.

Personality problems do not usually manifest themselves until later in life. 

A personality disorder is a long-term, stable, and persistent pattern of behaviour that produces clinically substantial impairment by creating behaviour that deviates significantly from societal standards. 

Personality disorders might resurface with age following a relatively quiet period throughout middle age when duties and relationships keep them controlled.

Paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, obsessive-compulsive, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, avoidant, and dependent personality disorders are all vulnerable to deteriorating with age, according to Dr. Rosowsky, who spoke at an American Society on Aging meeting. 

Certain diseases are more prone to deteriorating as a result of various stimuli. Reliance on others for care, for example, increases the likelihood of paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, and avoidant personality disorders worsening.

People with histrionic, narcissistic, or borderline disorders often experience a loss of attractiveness. Personality disorders are made up of behaviours that are not fundamentally pathogenic. Anyone can have these characteristics.

Dementia and personality problems can interact. The condition may adapt to dementia-related memory loss and negative social feedback. Drugs that are used to decrease the progression of dementia may also have an impact on a personality disorder. 

Apathy and withdrawal are common symptoms of dementia, and it often coarsens the patient’s affect, which interacts with the personality disorder. 

A personality disorder is divided into four categories by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSMIV): Odd-Eccentric behaviours are seen in Cluster A, which includes paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal illnesses. 

Antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic disorders are all part of Cluster B, which includes Dramatic-Emotional Behaviors. Cluster C comprises avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive disorders, as well as anxious-fearful behaviours. 

An unidentified personality condition falls under the fourth group. Patients might be asked specific questions to learn more about each category. 

A caretaker for someone with Cluster A disorders must consider privacy needs, desire to accept aid or medical treatment, and the caregiver’s capacity to get near enough to deliver effective therapy. 

Symptom conversions, such as noncompliance or medicine sharing, should be examined in patients with Cluster B disorders. In later life, energy conservation may diminish a patient’s personality’s more florid expression. 

Patients with Cluster B frequently voice concerns about narcissism in old life. Relevant features must be discovered in patients with Cluster C illnesses. Some characteristics may need to be strengthened, while others may need to be reduced.

Mental illness affects people of all ages and backgrounds. People of any age might suffer from psychological or physiological problems that have an influence on their mental health. 

Advocacy groups and medical experts are working to dispel the stigmas around mental illness so that individuals may seek care with bravery, safety, and comfort. 

What is a personality disorder?

Personality is the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves that distinguishes them from others. Experiences, environment (surroundings, life events), and inherent features all impact an individual’s personality. A person’s personality tends to remain consistent throughout time. 

A personality disorder is a manner of thinking, feeling, and acting that differs from cultural norms produces distress or impairment in functioning and persists over time.

Personality disorders are divided into ten categories. Long-term patterns of behaviour and interior experiences that deviate greatly from what is anticipated are referred to as personality disorders. 

By late adolescence or early adulthood, a pattern of experience and behaviour has developed that produces unhappiness or functional issues. Personality problems can endure a long time if they are not treated. At least two of these areas are affected by personality disorders –

  • Thinking regarding oneself and others in a certain way
  • Emotional response 
  • The way you interact with other individuals
  • Controlling one’s behaviour 

A mental health practitioner must examine long-term patterns of functioning and symptoms to diagnose a personality disorder. Individuals aged 18 and over are usually diagnosed. 

Personality disorders are seldom diagnosed in people under the age of 18 since their personalities are still growing. Some persons with personality disorders are oblivious to the fact that they have a problem. 

People can also have several personality disorders. At least one personality disorder affects around 9% of individuals in the United States.

Conclusion – 

This blog post aimed to answer the question, “Do personality disorders get worse with age?” and reviewed what personality disorders are, their various types and their correlation with age to help determine if personality disorders get worse with age. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

DeNoon, D. J. Personality Disorders Change Over Time. (2002, June 28). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20020628/personality-disorders-change-over-time#:~:text=Tyrer%20says%20that%20most%20personality,problems%20get%20worse%20than%20ever.

Davis, J. l. Personality Disorders Can Change With Age. (2004, October 07). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20041007/personality-disorders-change-over-lifetime

Oltmanns, T. F. &  Balsis, S. Personality Disorders in Later Life: Questions about the Measurement, Course, and Impact of Disorders. (2011, April 27). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3074477/

Zoler, M. L. Personality Disorders May Worsen With Age. (2008, January). Retrieved from https://www.caringfortheages.com/article/S1526-4114(08)60024-4/pdf

Borderline Personality Disorder. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019, July 17). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237

Zoler, M. L. Personality Disorders May Worsen With Age. (2007, November 1). Retrieved from https://cdn.mdedge.com/files/s3fs-public/issues/articles/71313_main_5.pdf

Does Mental Illness Get Worse With Age? GoodMenProject.com. (2021, June 25), Retrieved from https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/does-mental-illness-get-worse-with-age/

Personality Disorders. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9636-personality-disorders-overview

Why do personality disorders get worse with age? Quora. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/Why-do-personality-disorders-get-worse-with-age

Personality disorders in later life: epidemiology, presentation and management. Cambridge University Press. (2020, March 30). Retrieved from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/bjpsych-advances/article/personality-disorders-in-later-life-epidemiology-presentation-and-management/A0AC8DED4CCD49AAE4B0E1130A0025CE

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