Cluster B refers to certain types of personality disorders that make a person unable to regulate emotions and maintain healthy relationships with others. These are some of the most complicated personality disorders to treat.
Understanding Cluster B Personality Disorder
The types of personalities vary from person to person. People’s personalities are mostly influenced by certain inherited characters, life situations, and environmental factors. A mental health condition is capable of affecting one’s way of thinking, behaving, feeling, and maintaining personal and professional relationships. When it affects an individual’s life negatively, it is termed a personality disorder. A 2018 research paper 1 explained, “Personality disorders (PDs) can be described as the manifestation of extreme personality traits that interfere with everyday life and contribute to significant suffering, functional limitations, or both.” Cluster B personality disorders are the least common types of personality disorders that can cause extreme distress and significant problems in one’s life if not treated at the correct time. People with these disorders experience extreme difficulties in regulating their emotions and maintaining relationships with others. They often behave in an extremely dramatic, overly emotional, erratic, and unpredictable way in social situations.
A 2011 study 2 has shown that the symptoms of most personality disorders occur during adolescence and later life. Mental health professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) to diagnose any personality disorders. According to DSM-5, cluster B includes four personality disorders as:
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
These disorders can create long-lasting impacts on one’s life by displaying long-term behavioral and inner experiences. A research paper 3 estimated that 1.5% of people tend to experience the symptoms of this disorder during their adulthood.
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Treatments For Cluster B Personality Disorders
Although there is no specific treatment for such disorders, one can manage the adverse effects of the symptoms with therapy and medications. Treatments of cluster B personality disorders include various methods and therapies to help manage the negative impacts such as anger, anxiety, depression, disruptive behaviors. It consists of various significant and complicated issues that are quite difficult to treat. The symptoms may continue to engender impairment with the sufferers and those around them even after little improvement.
The following are some of the treatments used by mental health professionals to treat cluster B personality disorders.
Mental health professionals mostly prefer psychotherapies to treat personality disorders. Therapies are considered to be the cornerstone of cluster B personality disorder treatment. There are several important psychotherapies specialists use to treat people with emerging personality disorders. If the condition deteriorates, psychotherapies, as well as group or individual counseling sessions, help immensely to decrease the negative impacts.
Some effective psychotherapies for the treatment of this disorder include:
a. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
A 2006 study 4 has referred to dialectical behavior therapy as a specific psychotherapy that focuses on the role of cognition such as thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and actions. DBT is one of the most effective psychotherapy to treat cluster B personality disorders. It combines some counseling sessions with group therapies and training times. This therapy aims at making the sufferers learn different new skills to make positive life changes. There are four main types of skills that are covered in the DBT skill training sessions.
The following are the significant skills:
i) Mindfulness meditation skills
It is about making the patients more aware of themselves and others. Regular meditation practices 5 make them more attentive to the present situation.
ii) Emotion regulation skills
This skill helps the sufferers to learn how one can recognize, label, adjust and regulate emotions in social situations or otherwise.
iii) Distress management skill
It makes the patients learn how to not react impulsively, use self-harm or substance abuse while feeling intense anger. It teaches them to not adapt in any negative way to dampen the distress level.
iv) Interpersonal effectiveness skills
This skill is considered to be very beneficial for teaching the patients to navigate conflicts and interact assertively.
According to a 2016 research paper 6 , DBT is the most beneficial psychotherapy to treat borderline personality disorder. The term dialectical refers to the idea of bringing together two opposites – acceptance and change – it offers better results than other processes. DBT is primarily designed to treat higher-risk and tough-to-treat patients.
b. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
A 2011 research paper 7 suggested that cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to solve the problems first and teaches the skills to reduce problematic thoughts and practices. This theory focuses on the cognitive and behavioral aspects of a mental health disorder. It is one of the most beneficial therapies to treat cluster B personality disorder. It makes the sufferers identify their thought and behavior patterns. CBT is specially designed to help people adopt healthy coping skills and achieve a positive life. It is considered to be quite direct and extremely helpful in reducing the symptoms by changing one’s thought process.
CBT includes a wide range of techniques for the treatment of certain personality disorders. The following are some of the most used techniques:
i) New skills
It is extremely essential to practice different and new coping skills that can be used in real situations. Rehearing those skills has proven to be helpful to avoid or deal with social environments that can potentially trigger a relapse.
ii) Identify disturbing thoughts
CBT allows the patients to understand how thoughts, situational factors, and feelings contribute to negative behaviors. This technique ultimately depends on self-discovery and insights that are an important part of the treatment.
Patients get to learn how they can identify and solve problems that arise from life situations. This skill helps to decrease the negative impacts of psychological disorders.
iv) Goal setting
It is an important step of CBT as it helps the sufferers to learn how they can identify their goals, differentiate between short and long-term goals, and most importantly focus on the process more than the outcome.
This technique allows the patients to track their behaviors, symptoms, experiences over time. It helps the therapist to get enough important information that leads to the best treatment.
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c. Talking Therapy
It is an essential part of the psychotherapy process. It helps the sufferers to express their previous experiences, problems, and emotions verbally to the mental health specialist. Talking therapy 8 is often proved to be very beneficial as most people express themselves without any hesitation knowing that the therapist will listen to them without judging. This kind of therapy includes communicating with specialists who can help people to deal with their negative thoughts and distress. It offers the patients enough chances to explore their way of thinking and behaving. Certain significant psychotherapies also consist of a session of talking therapy. Those therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, humanistic therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and the like.
There are no specific medicines available for cluster B personality disorder. Mental health professionals may prescribe certain stabilizers, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety medicines for the improvement of specific symptoms. These medications can help manage co-occurring problems, such as depression and anxiety. One should not consume drugs and alcohol while on medication as it may worsen the condition.
Coping With Cluster B Personality Disorders And Support A Loved One
Dealing with such complicated personality disorders can be incredibly difficult for someone, even if someone is offering help to a person with this disorder. Hence, seeking medical help is crucial. However, people with this disorder can adapt some self-care strategies to manage the extreme impacts of the symptoms. Regular exercises, a healthy diet, meditation, and mindfulness practices can help to boost their mood and reduce frustration. People should be transparent, supportive, and non-judgmental towards the sufferers. Certain personality disorders often allow people to have suicidal thoughts, that’s why it is very essential to be extra aware and cautious.
Supporting someone with cluster B personality disorders can be very challenging as most of the time the patients are reluctant to participate in therapy sessions or seek help from a mental health professional. The following are some of the steps one can adapt to support or help people with this disorder. The steps include:
- Offer good care and set certain boundaries before providing help to anyone affected.
- Staying calm and patient are extremely important for caregivers.
- Try not to take things personally.
- Encourage the patients to get professional help when needed as it may increase their confidence.
- Before offering help to someone, it is beneficial to know and understand the signs and symptoms of a particular personality disorder. It provides knowledge about what to expect and look for.
- Understand the objective of the treatment. Cluster B personality disorders are extremely complicated and the treatment takes a long time to bring positive outcomes.
- Communication is another important step to provide support for the sufferers. Most of the time, they feel hesitation in speaking about their distress, disturbing thoughts, and other problems that they are experiencing. Try to have enough communication with them about how you can help.
- Choose simple processes and distractions for them. Simple relaxing practices help to build healthy relationships, trust and create calm within their inner selves.
Overcome Cluster B Personality Disorders
Cluster B personality disorder sufferers often find it difficult to regulate their emotions and maintain healthy relationships with others. Other people may find their actions and behaviors over-dramatic, extremely emotional, and impulsive in social situations. One can manage the negative impact of the occurring symptoms, but it is not completely curable. It is important to seek help from a closed one or a mental health professional at the correct time before the symptoms get deteriorated. There are various resources available online through which one can learn how to support people with cluster B personality disorders.References:
- Ekselius L. (2018). Personality disorder: a disease in disguise. Upsala journal of medical sciences, 123(4), 194–204. https://doi.org/10.1080/03009734.2018.1526235
- Oltmanns, T. F., & Balsis, S. (2011). Personality disorders in later life: questions about the measurement, course, and impact of disorders. Annual review of clinical psychology, 7, 321–349. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-090310-120435
- Fariba K, Gupta V, Kass E. Personality Disorder. [Updated 2021 Feb 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556058/
- Chapman A. L. (2006). Dialectical behavior therapy: current indications and unique elements. Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township), 3(9), 62–68.
- Sng, A. A., & Janca, A. (2016). Mindfulness for personality disorders. Current opinion in psychiatry, 29(1), 70–76. https://doi.org/10.1097/YCO.0000000000000213
- May, J. M., Richardi, T. M., & Barth, K. S. (2016). Dialectical behavior therapy as treatment for borderline personality disorder. The mental health clinician, 6(2), 62–67. https://doi.org/10.9740/mhc.2016.03.62
- Matusiewicz, A. K., Hopwood, C. J., Banducci, A. N., & Lejuez, C. W. (2010). The effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for personality disorders. The Psychiatric clinics of North America, 33(3), 657–685. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psc.2010.04.007
- National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK). Borderline Personality Disorder: Treatment and Management. Leicester (UK): British Psychological Society; 2009. (NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 78.) 5, PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOSOCIAL TREATMENTS IN THE MANAGEMENT OF BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK55410/