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Moving forward with a diagnosis of personality disorder

by Crystal Thomas | April 2022

It is exceedingly common for people who receive a diagnosis of personality disorder to experience a sense of hopelessness. The term personality disorder refers to several distinct disorders with unique facets; however, the feelings of pain, fear, and shame that may appear upon receiving one of these diagnoses are universal. Many find it difficult or undesirable to identify with a personality disorder diagnosis. In this situation, you may worry that the diagnosis confirms that something about you as a person is “broken.” You may despair that you can never be “cured” or “fixed.” You may hear the phrase “personality disorder” and think to yourself, “I am a bad and unlovable person.”

These feelings are valid and understandable, especially considering entrenched social stigma surrounding mental illness and lifetimes of poor media representation of people with personality disorders. However, as with any diagnosis, receiving a diagnosis of personality disorder is a cause for hope, not despair. The existence of these diagnostic categories proves that you are not alone. Enough others have struggled with the same or similar problems to warrant the creation of these diagnoses, and group therapy modalities will give you the opportunity to connect with others who are also working to build skills and manage symptoms.

Receiving your diagnosis opens a door to supports that have been designed specifically to manage the symptoms with which you are struggling. While it is true that there is no “cure” for personality disorder, the same is true for any mental illness. Many are concerned that there are no medications approved specifically for personality disorders. However, people with these diagnoses frequently find relief for symptoms of anxiety, depression, or mood instability through medication. In addition, psychotherapy can help you to better manage emotions, change behavior patterns, and improve relationships. Mental health professionals have learned a great deal about effective treatment through decades of research and experience, and symptom reduction is well within reach.

Remember that there is no “bad person” diagnosis. There is no label that can make you unlovable. You have certainly loved and admired individuals who cope with mental health issues, perhaps unbeknownst to you. Having a diagnosis that accurately reflects your mental health needs can only help others to love and support you more effectively.

While our physical offices are located in South Loop and Lakeview neighborhoods in Chicago, Illinois for in-person sessions, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more.