Imagine living your life in isolation, feeling like everything and everyone around you are trying to inflict harm on you.
Doesn’t sound like a good life, does it?
While all of this may sound like a very paranoid way of living for us, there are actual people living like that because of a disorder called schizotypal personality disorder.
Many people confuse this disorder with schizophrenia. However, both of these are different to each other.
Schizotypal Personality disorder, like any other personality disorder, is a chronic mental illness.
People suffering with this disorder experience strange patterns of thinking and behaving.
As a result, they struggle to form close relationships with others.
Living with schizotypal personality disorder is a constant struggle.
They usually don’t understand how any type of relationships work.
It is really hard for them to make sense of how their way of behaving impacts other people around them.
They tend to misunderstand other’s motivations and develop a general mistrust over everyone.
These problems ultimately lead to severe anxiety and make them unable to respond appropriately to social cues.
Schizotypal personality disorder affected approximately 3% of the general population.
Also it is found to be more common in males than female.
This disorder is typically diagnosed in early adulthood and is likely to endure throughout the lifetime.
However with proper treatment and therapy there are chances that the symptoms may improve.
Some common symptoms of this disorder include:
- Staying in isolation and not having any friends beside their own family.
- Not giving appropriate emotional response or lack of emotions.
- Excessive social anxiety.
- Interpreting things in a wrong way.
- Taking everything as offensive.
- Eccentric way of behaving.
- Not trusting anyone or having a feeling that no one is loyal to them.
- Believing in superstitions and super powers.
- Having illusions or paranoia.
- Wearing weird or mismatched clothes.
- Peculiar or unusual way of speaking.
- Talking to themself.
- Being preoccupied with fantasizes and day dreams.
- Tending to misinterpret reality.
- Having distorted perceptions
While the main cause behind the schizotypal personality disorder is unknown, there are high chances that the change in the way the brain functions, genetics, environmental influences and learnt behavior plays a vital role behind its cause.
A person having any of his family members suffering from schizophrenia are at higher risk of suffering this disorder than those who don’t have any.
Evidences also suggest that parenting styles, early separation, trauma/maltreatment history especially early childhood neglect might result in development of schizotypal traits.
Over time, children usually learn to interpret social cues and respond appropriately but for unknown reasons this process does not seem to work well for children suffering with this disorder.
Usually schizotypal personality disorder also co-occurs with major depressive disorder, dysthymia and generalized social phobia.
Other personality disorders that co-occur most often with schizotypal personality disorder are schizoid, paranoid, avoidant and borderline.
Diagnosis of Schizotypal Personality Disorder
As mentioned earlier schizotypal personality disorder is usually diagnosed early in adulthood.
If your doctor suspects that you have this disorder, they’ll start by giving you a physical examination to check for physical conditions that could possibly be the cause your symptoms.
They might also ask about the symptoms that you might have been experiencing and whether any other of your family members have personality disorders.
So it will be wise to take a friend or family with you who can answer about your behavioral changes and the medical history of your family.
Then, If the doctor does not find any physical reason for the symptoms, he or she might refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist or health care professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses.
Psychiatrists and psychologists will use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate whether you have a personality disorder or not.
Treatment of Schizotypal Personality Disorder
The treatment for Schizotypal Personality Disorder involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication.
Till now, there is very little research done about the use of psychotherapy with Schizotypal Personality Disorder patients.
Psychotherapy includes psycho-education about social skills as well as cognitive-behavioral techniques that can help patients identify and challenge negative or distorted patterns of thinking.
Family therapy might also help educate family members about the disorder, improve communication, and address patterns which increase anxiety for the individual and comparatively help them live an easier life.
Currently, Food and Drug Administration haven’t approved any medications for the treatment of schizotypal personality disorder.
However, doctors may prescribe antipsychotic medications, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or anti-anxiety medications to help with symptoms.
Stimulants often used to treat attention problems can also sometimes be found useful in patients suffering with this disorder.
Treatment may also include addressing some of the complications of the disorder, which includes increased anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Overall, symptoms tend to improve when people with schizotypal personality disorder begin to build stronger relationships and a sense of self-efficacy at school, work, or in other interests.
Life for the patients of schizotypal personality disorder is very difficult at its own but with proper treatment and support of family, living shall become a little more easy for them.