What Is Schizotypal Personality Disorder?

Learn about the signs, symptoms, causes, and treatment options for schizotypal personality disorder.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

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Schizotypal Personality Disorder (STPD)

Schizotypal personality disorder (STPD) is one of many ill-understood mental disorders, partially because of its similarity to schizophrenia. Nonetheless, schizotypal personality disorder requires its own treatment plan, is diagnosed differently, and may provide different challenges for those who experience it.

Below, you’ll find a breakdown of schizotypal personality disorder, including its core symptoms and how it is usually diagnosed. We will also explore how STPD may be treated both in the short and long term through a combination of therapy and prescribed medications.

A Further Look at STPD

Schizotypal personality disorder is an eccentric personality disorder associated with “standard” schizophrenia.1 STPD is technically on the schizophrenia spectrum; however, patients with STPD do not typically experience psychosis.

Instead, those with STPD may experience discomfort with or a lower capacity for relationships with people. Other symptoms can include distorted cognition and perceptions and other eccentric behavior.

Generally, STPD is diagnosed in early adulthood. It usually persists throughout one’s life span. Fortunately, various treatments are available to mitigate the symptoms of STPD and ensure that patients live as close to normal lives as possible.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder vs. Schizophrenia

Although STPD is closely related to schizophrenia, it is not the same condition. Standard schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder that causes patients to lose their understanding of reality.

Individuals with STPD might have brief psychosis episodes from time to time, including experiencing hallucinations or delusions. Still, the episodes are not as frequent, intense, or prolonged as those for someone with standard schizophrenia.

Furthermore, people with schizophrenia cannot usually be convinced that their delusions are false or swayed from their ways of thinking. Individuals with STPD may be more easily convinced that hallucinations or delusions are not real.

As a consequence of STPD’s similarity to standard schizophrenia, individuals with this disorder may benefit from similar methods used to treat schizophrenia.

Signs and Symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder

The signs or symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder can vary dramatically from person to person.2 Nevertheless, most medical professionals will only diagnose STPD if at least one of the five below symptoms are detected:

  • Peculiar or eccentric thinking, mannerisms, or personal beliefs
  • Persistent social anxiety, particularly persistent excessive social anxiety
  • Inappropriate emotional responses or limited emotional range
  • Personality characteristics or behavior models matching those of loners
  • No close friends outside of family members
  • Incorrect interpretation of prior events, including interpersonal events or conversations
  • Acting or behaving in eccentric or peculiar ways, such as dressing oddly or behaving strangely in public
  • Maintaining unusual perceptions, such as experiencing illusions or sensing the presences of absent people
  • Personal beliefs in special powers, such as telepathy
  • Paranoid or suspicious thoughts or doubts about the motivations or loyalty of others
  • Odd or peculiar styles of speech, such as strange patterns of speaking or rambling during conversations

In many cases, the symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder may first appear and peak during the teen years.

STPD and Substance Abuse

Many individuals with STPD may become addicted to drugs or alcohol to cope with the above symptoms. This is a common coping mechanism for all psychotic disorders; however, substance abuse can exacerbate STPD symptoms or lead to deteriorating living conditions. Therefore, getting treatment for STPD and substance abuse quickly is vital.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder Causes

Like standard schizophrenia, the exact cause or causes of schizotypal personality disorder are not fully understood. Medical professionals believe that STPD is likely caused by a unique commendation of genetics, environmental factors, learned behaviors, and adjustments in brain functionality as individuals age.

This could be why STPD typically manifests in the teenage years, as the brain undergoes many changes thanks to hormonal shifts during puberty. These changes could cause brain development to shift beyond normal parameters. If the genetic potential for schizotypal personality disorder is present, individuals may experience their first STPD symptoms during puberty and into young adulthood.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder Risk Factors

Individuals’ risks for schizotypal personality disorder can be higher or lower depending on various risk factors. Like schizophrenia, STPD is closely related to genetics. Therefore, if an individual has a relative with schizophrenia or a similar psychotic disorder, they may be more likely to develop STPD in the future.

STPD Diagnosis

Generally, schizotypal personality disorder is diagnosed in teenage years or early adulthood. Those with STPD might seek help from a primary care doctor due to related symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, difficulty coping with life, strange beliefs, or substance abuse.

A primary care doctor may perform a physical exam to rule out other issues or chronic conditions. At the same time, a mental health professional may be required to fully diagnose schizotypal personality disorder.

Upon examination from a mental health professional, STPD could be diagnosed based on factors like:

  • The medical and personal history of the individual
  • A thorough examination of symptoms and related problems
  • Comparing symptoms to those listed for STPD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)

Note that STPD is on the schizophrenia spectrum. Therefore, one’s STPD symptoms could be anywhere from mild to severe. No two schizotypal personality disorders are alike—it could take some time to diagnose STPD properly and rule out other mental disorders.3

STPD(schizotypal personality disorder) Diagnosis

Treatment Options for Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Although living with schizotypal personality disorder can be difficult, multiple treatment options are available. Addiction treatment centers, such as Blueprints for Recovery, may assist those with STPD using a variety of methods and techniques.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may help individuals with STPD or other mental disorders. CBT involves working closely with a therapist to understand patients’ thoughts and behaviors. Furthermore, cognitive behavioral therapy emphasizes developing proper social skills to navigate complex interpersonal situations.

For many, CBT can help them engage with daily challenges without as much anxiety and stress. This therapy is a long-term and progressive solution, and it may take some time before major improvements are seen or felt.

Supportive Therapy

Alternatively, patients may respond better to supportive therapy. This psychotherapy leverages an intense therapeutic alliance between patient and therapist to boost the patient’s self-esteem and restore their relation to reality.

When done properly, supportive therapy can help STPD patients:

  • Feel better about themselves
  • Regulator impulses
  • Reduce negative thinking
  • Reinforced their ability to cope with life challenges and stressors

In general, supportive therapy is useful for those with STPD who don’t have high self-esteem or who have difficulty navigating the difficulties of life on their own.

Family Therapy

Patients may also pursue family therapy. This psychological counseling technique leverages family members to boost communication and resolve interpersonal conflicts. Family therapy is typically conducted by licensed therapists, psychologists, or clinical social workers.

This short-term psychological counseling method could involve all family members or only a few, depending on what is best for the patient. Family therapy can be very useful for those with STPD whose primary interpersonal struggles come from conflicts with family members, such as siblings or parents.

Medication

Additionally, addiction treatment centers could recommend medication prescribed by a licensed medical professional. Medication does not cure STPD; however, the right medication, such as antipsychotic medication, could help regulate individual symptoms. Some medications can alleviate delusions, odd behaviors, paranoia, and more.

Ideally, medications will be combined with other forms of therapy, allowing individuals suffering from STPD to participate regularly in everyday life without suffering from excessive anxiety.

Coping and Support

Furthermore, antidepressants may be prescribed to assist those with schizotypal personality disorder. Handling the various symptoms and competitions of STPD is tough enough without depression or anxiety. Thus, antidepressants may help patients cope with STPD symptoms while therapy and other medications do their work.

As always, a strong support network and healthy coping mechanisms are ideal. Those with STPD should endeavor not to use substances or abuse drugs as a means of coping with their symptoms.

Healthy coping mechanisms can include:

  • Regular exercise to alleviate stress
  • Starting and maintaining a hobby as a creative or recreational outlet
  • Getting plenty of sleep to alleviate mental fatigue and strain
  • Eating a healthy diet with delicious food
  • Spending time outdoors, particularly in the winter
  • Spending time in nature, which may help with mental fatigue

Getting Help for Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Dealing with schizotypal personality disorder alone can be difficult, especially if substance abuse is involved. Nonetheless, no one should have to shoulder that burden by themself. If you or a loved one has schizotypal personality disorder, Blueprints for Recovery can help.

As a licensed addiction treatment center, Blueprints for Recovery can help those suffering from STPD get their lives back on track and overcome substance addictions used to cope with STPD’s symptoms. We offer both residential and outpatient treatment programs as well as sober living solutions.

Struggling with a disorder, such as schizotypal personality disorder, may feel isolating and frightening, but it does not have to take control of one’s life. Our staff at Blueprints for Recovery is standing by to give patients the proper treatment and help them regain control. Contact our team today to learn more about the healing process and what we can do to help.

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If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
(888) 744-9969 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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