"Personality Disorder" is an umbrella term inclusive of multiple diagnoses and disorders that impact personality traits and behaviors. These disorders can be extraordinarily complex and individual, especially in teens. Often, these disorders manifest with symptoms that cause unhealthy or otherwise dangerous thoughts or feelings for the sufferer.

Teens who are suffering from Personality Disorders often experience the world in a very different way. They may think differently or view everyday scenarios very differently from their peers, causing extreme social friction, self-isolation, and confusion. Unlike simple quirkiness or individuality, disorders often cause profound negative consequences for teens.

What Does Teen Personality Disorder Look Like?

  • Personality disorders are unique, with individualized symptoms
  • Teen personalities are also highly individual. It may sound cliché, but being different is entirely normal. No two people are the same. Simply being “different” is not the same as having a Personality Disorder.
  • Eccentricity is not the same as a Personality Disorder, either. These disorders skew significantly further beyond strange (or even “bad”) behavior now and again. Teenagers are still maturing, growing, and exploring who they are; some troubling behavior and inconsistency is expected.
  • Teens who are suffering from Personality Disorders have symptoms and behaviors that are characteristically unhealthy and chronic. They may experience significant social issues, both at home and among friends.

Signs of Teen Personality Disorder

Frequent, Sudden, and Severe Mood Swings

Relationship Problems

Impulse control issues or erratic behavior

Constantly Seeking Instant Gratification

Abusing Drugs or Alcohol

Having Abnormal Thoughts or Feelings

Withdrawing or Self-Isolating

The Different Types of Types of Teen Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder - Borderline Personality Disorder is often rooted in intense fear of abandonment. Symptoms include unpredictable and compulsive behaviors that make it difficult to form and maintain healthy, enduring relationships.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder - The paradox of a teenager with narcissistic Personality Disorders is that they consider themselves superior to others, but at the same time require affection and praise to maintain that high self-image. Teens suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder may appear egotistical, but really be intensely self-loathing or self-conscious. Hyper self-obsession may manifest as disregarding the feelings and thoughts of others.

Antisocial Personality Disorder - Teenagers with Antisocial Personality Disorder often find it almost impossible to process the concept of privacy as it relates to other people. This causes them to often intrude on, or even violate, the rights of others. APD manifests in impulsive behavior that bucks social norms, with a special focus on casual disregard for humanity.

Histrionic Personality Disorder - This disorder presents as unrestrained attention-seeking, but may also manifest with hyper-emotional reactions to situations. Often, the reaction does not fit the scenario, leading to teens being labeled “dramatic.” They use constant attention-seeking behavior to draw attention back to themselves, time and time again, and may feel extremely hurt if ignored or otherwise overlooked.

Dependent Personality Disorder - Much like Borderline Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder stems from a fear of being alone and abandonment. Teens with this disorder find it difficult to be independent and often completely depend on others to help them make decisions or take care of themselves. Unfortunately, this increases their reliance on others.

Request a Call

  • We are here to assist you and answer your questions, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.

Avoidant Personality Disorder - Teenagers with Avoidant Personality Disorder are uncommonly introverted, often doing everything they can to dodge social situations due to extreme feelings of deficiency. These teens believe socialization will lead to embarrassment and rejection, even if they are capable or skilled at communicating. They may believe they’re constantly being criticized, becoming sensitive to any form of criticism.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder - Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is not the same disorder as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is a type of anxiety that presents itself through repeated behavior. It manifests to appease an obsessive, recurring thought.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, on the other hand, presents as hyper-perfectionism, including a rigid adherence to schedules and a compulsive need to obsess over minute details. This perfectionism causes detrimental experiences for the teen, negatively impacting their relationships and interactions with others.

Paranoid Personality Disorder - This disorder is characterized by a persistent and immense distrust and fear of others. Teens with Paranoid Personality Disorder believe other people have secret motivations or want to hurt them, either emotionally or physically. Sufferers often self-isolate to shield themselves from other people; this, coupled with the distrust, results in a difficulty forming and maintaining relationships.

Schizoid Personality Disorder - Schizoid Personality Disorder typically presents as difficulty expressing emotions and maintaining social relationships. Teen sufferers often prefer to isolate themselves from others, withdrawing almost entirely from society. They may be so detached from others that they ignore criticism from both loved ones and strangers.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder - Frequently associated with eccentric, strange behavior, Schizotypal Personality Disorder causes intense distorted perception and thoughts. Teens with this illness are also uncomfortable in relationships and find difficulty coming to the logical conclusion of things and events. Instead, they’ll make wild intuitive leaps and come to odd conclusions that may even develop into delusions.

Teen Personality Disorder Treatment | Paradigm San Francisco

What Are the Causes of Teen Personality Disorder?

Teen Personality Disorders are not caused by or diagnosed from spontaneous, erratic behavior; in fact, most teens just plain act strangely every so often. Instead, they are most often diagnosed from patterns of behavior and thinking that appears strange or obviously unusual over a consistent, chronic periods of time. Sufferers may be diagnosed with just one or multiple Personality Disorders at any given time, creating a complex constellation of issues best treated by professionals who understand how to best navigate symptoms.

In fact, treating Personality Disorders is so complex that professionals won’t diagnose until the sufferer has experienced symptoms for at least one year. Once a diagnosis is reached, teens can start identifying the cause:

  • Diseases of the brain
  • Comorbid mental health disorders
  • Extreme emotional distress or trauma
  • Family history or genetic tie to Personality Disorders


of people with Borderline Personality Disorder commit suicide


of people who self-mutilate begin before they’re 12 years old


of adolescents have at least one Personality Disorder

How Can I Help My Teen With Personality Disorder?

The people (parents, friends, and professionals like therapists) in a recovering teen’s life play a vital in helping them cope. Psychotherapy for Personality Disorders often includes educating parents and friends how to identify specific turns of phrase and patterns of speech in the disordered teen. The best way to be a good ally to your teen is to be aware of which disorder they are suffering from and how it manifests in the first place. By knowing how your teen suffers, you can provide the right support when support is needed most.

Treating a Personality Disorder isn’t easy. It can be hard for teens to manage and change both their thoughts and behaviors to something more “normal.” Sufferers rely heavily on parents, siblings, and loved ones to help them adjust their behavior and learn how to act and think normally.

What Types of Teen Personality Disorder Treatment Are Available?


Psychotherapy is the primary effective treatment for those with Personality Disorders. Also known as “talk therapy,” or “counseling,” this treatment is only effective if it is customized and delivered in a way that addresses the whole person.

Therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) help teens understand their issues, why they have occurred, their effect on others. Then, they provide the guidance needed to develop tactics for managing social skills, like conflict resolution. First, the therapist will urge teens to acknowledge their behaviors and thoughts to encourage self-awareness and personality responsibility. They will then assist teenagers in breaking down how behaviors impact their lives and the lives of others.


Medication won’t cure a Personality Disorder; however, it can be helpful when treating intense emotional symptoms where therapy doesn’t work. This includes extreme anxiety, obsession, suicidal thoughts, depressive thoughts, paranoia, and delusions.

Teen Personality Disorder Treatment at Paradigm San Francisco

Correctly diagnosing and treating teen Personality Disorders begins with uncovering what caused the disorder for the teen in the first place. Paradigm San Francisco’s therapeutic environment lets teen refocus and address their problems within a safe, comfortable living space. Our residential facility helps teens learn to cope with their issues through solo therapy, group therapy, and many other supportive programs. Teens who stay at Paradigm San Francisco will enjoy a social experience, with opportunities to learn and practice normal, healthy interaction with peers who understand how they feel.

Teens who attend Paradigm’s programs work closely with therapists who have a deep understanding of the complexity associated with teen Personality Disorders. Over time, they help the teen introduce newer, healthier coping skills, replacing compulsive behaviors and other negative experiences with new strength. They also help them to understand how their actions affect others and how to resolve difficult interpersonal conflicts, all while managing stress and disorder-specific symptoms. Over time, teens learn how to react with control and intention.

An important part of treatment for every teen is understanding the effects of their disorder, how it can affect others, and why negative behaviors can lead to treacherous consequences. With assistance, teens learn to self-correct and recognize the difference between what’s normal and wrong.

There is no doubt that Paradigm saved our son and our family - and we are eternally grateful.

– Bob W.

Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Anxiety

Are people with Personality Disorders dangerous?

It might feel like people with Personality Disorders are dangerous, especially if they exhibit unpredictable behavior. However, this is mostly a myth and a result of stigma rather than the truth. Instead of being a danger to others, someone who is suffering is much more likely to harm themselves or even become suicidal. Problems can arise due to the fact that teens lack self-awareness or struggle to understand social conventions. This is why it is so important to seek support and treatment early.

How do I know if I have a Personality Disorder?

It’s very difficult to know if you have a Personality Disorder on your own. Your curiosity may stem from various problems or issues in your life, especially if you are struggling to cope or having problems finding a way forward. If so, it’s important to be clear and honest about your problems; don’t let them fester. There are countless people who can assist you in taking control of your life whether you have been diagnosed already or still need an official diagnosis.

Ready to take the next step?

Call now for a free assessment with a counselor or to start the admissions process.
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.
Call Now