Schizotypal Personality Disorder Treatment
What is Schizotypal Personality Disorder?
A common characteristic in teens with schizotypal personality disorder is a fascination with eccentric or unusual interpretations of events around them, and a strange perception of reality. This is also sometimes called magical thinking, and it results in many teens and adults with schizotypal personality disorder growing up believing in special powers, supernatural abilities, or extrasensory perception (ESP). But while these characteristics stand out, they are not necessarily what makes schizotypal personality disorder so debilitating.
Teens and adults with schizotypal personality disorder tend to struggle to understand social bonds and relationships, and usually have very few. Furthermore, they are prone to misinterpreting the actions and intentions of others and may develop an unfounded mistrust of those around them as a result.
While some people might find a schizotypal teen’s odd rituals or strange mannerisms endearing or interesting, schizotypal personality disorder is also defined by near crippling and persistent social anxiety. This, coupled with serious relationship problems, makes it difficult for individuals with schizotypal personality disorder to form lasting bonds outside of their immediate family members. Adults with schizotypal personality disorder can learn to form long-term relationships over time, but they will struggle to do so. Early treatment can help teens with schizotypal personality disorder learn to cope with their condition, avoid or treat comorbid conditions like depression, and lead a more fulfilling social life.
Schizophrenia vs. Schizotypal vs. Schizoid Personality Disorder
Schizotypal personality disorder is one of ten recognized personality disorders listed in the DSM-V; however, it is also considered a part of the schizophrenic spectrum, albeit on the much milder side than a full diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Schizotypal personality disorder can be distinguished from schizophrenia in that, while individuals with schizotypal personality disorder engage in magical thinking – or wishful thinking – they will not experience episodes of psychosis or hallucination symptoms as severely or as frequently as individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Furthermore, teens with schizotypal personality disorder can be made aware of the difference between their eccentric mannerisms and reality. The psychosis in a case of schizophrenia is much more severe and requires a committed treatment process to address. Other conditions on the schizophrenic spectrum include:
- Delusional disorder
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Schizophreniform disorder
- Other psychotic disorders
Another important distinction is the difference between a schizotypal personality disorder and schizoid personality disorder. Unlike schizotypal personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder has little to do with psychosis or strange perceptions of reality and is not related to the schizophrenic spectrum. Schizoid personality disorder is in the same cluster of personality disorders as schizotypal personality disorder, but is characterized by social awkwardness, lack of outward emotions, and so-called robotic mannerisms.
Signs and Symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Schizotypal personality disorder can be distinctly characterized by strange and eccentric beliefs and behavior, as well as strong social awkwardness, anxiety, and difficulty understanding relationships. Teens with schizotypal personality disorder must usually display at least five of the following traits to be diagnosed professionally:
- Strange or unusual speech patterns
- Eccentric or magical beliefs, mannerisms, or rituals
- A belief in supernatural powers and abilities
- Displaying a strong belief in their own extrasensory perception, i.e., believing in energy fields or sensing people who aren’t there
- Peculiar style of dress and appearance, including unmatched clothing (two different socks, strangely patterned clothes, etc.)
- Strong social anxiety
- Inappropriate emotional responses
- Struggling to maintain relationships with others
- Misinterpreting messages, actions, and events
Schizotypal personality disorder symptoms tend to begin in childhood, or in the early teen years. In some cases, social anxiety develops first, with other symptoms following. In other cases, teens develop increasingly odd and specialized interests, and spend most of their time alone, or prefer their own company over others.
How is Schizotypal Personality Disorder Treated in Teens?
Like paranoid personality disorder, it can be difficult to convince a teen with schizotypal personality disorder that they need help – but unlike paranoid personality disorder, teens with schizotypal personality disorder can be persuaded to seek treatment.
Oftentimes, teens or adults with schizotypal personality disorder will be referred to a professional for a concurrent or comorbid mental health condition; usually their anxiety. In an assessment for anxiety, a psychiatrist may also discover signs of a personality disorder, especially given the distinct symptoms of a schizotypal personality disorder.
Treatment is determined on a case-by-case basis. More extreme cases of schizotypal personality disorder may struggle to establish a healthy social life, and no treatment can completely cure the condition. In many cases, the goal is to modulate the aspects of the condition that negatively impact a teen’s life, while allowing them to lead a fulfilling existence, even if they prefer to do so alone, or mostly alone. In more mild cases, treatment and behavioral analysis can help teens adjust to social cues they may not otherwise understand, and lead a more normal life, even if they retain a few eccentric interests or esoteric beliefs.
An early diagnosis during a teen’s adolescent years bodes well for treatment outcomes. A dedicated one-on-one therapy program and continued group therapy can help teens relate to their peers, overcome elements of social anxiety, and deal with comorbid conditions such as panic attacks and depressive symptoms.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder Treatment at the Arrow House
Treatment at the Arrow House for teens with schizotypal personality disorder focuses on establishing a healthy routine and a dedicated treatment plan that addresses a teen’s anxiety symptoms and co-occurring mental health problems, from depression to panic attacks, and potential substance use disorder.
Behavioral and cognitive individual therapies help teens differentiate between odd or eccentric thoughts and more normal lines of thinking and learn which behaviors to avoid in certain social situations. Reviewing therapy sessions, utilizing journaling, and a thorough individual program can help teens make substantial progress with their mental health and their ability to forge close bonds with their peers and loved ones.