Schizotypal personality disorder is a difficult condition to deal with because it involves symptoms such as intense social anxiety, paranoia, delusions and eccentric behavior. People with this disorder are typically unable to function in social relationships, and they usually have few or no close friends. Living with schizotypal personality disorder affects every aspect of a person’s day-to-day life.
Schizotypal personality disorder is also difficult for the person’s family members, since understanding the symptoms of the disorder can be challenging. Though the prognosis for schizotypal personality disorder is relatively poor, a combination of therapy and medication can make it easier for some people with this disorder to form relationships and become less anxious.
Schizotypal Disorders and the Schizophrenic Spectrum
Schizotypal personality disorder falls on the schizophrenic spectrum of mental illnesses, which includes schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders, as well as schizophrenia. Schizotypal personality disorder falls in the middle of the spectrum; it’s considered more severe than schizoid personality disorder because of symptoms like eccentric behavior and brief psychotic episodes, which are uncommon in people with schizoid personality disorder. However, schizotypals have a firmer grip on reality than people with schizophrenia and can usually be convinced that their delusions are not based in reality.
For people who seek help, certain types of schizotypal treatment may be used. Antidepressant and antipsychotic medications can relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, paranoia and psychosis common to schizotypal personality disorder. Therapy can be effective if the therapist can gain the patient’s trust and persuade him to remain in therapy.
The most effective schizotypal treatment is one-on-one therapy with a psychiatrist, who must work hard to develop a relationship with the patient. Since people with schizotypal personality disorder have severe social anxiety and are generally distrustful of other people, this can be a challenging task. However, once the psychiatrist has the patient’s trust, they can begin to work together on identifying harmful thought patterns and changing them to healthy ones. For example, therapy may help the patient learn to cope with feelings of being different or not fitting in with other people.
Although schizotypal group therapy may be available, only high-functioning schizotypals who have had some success relating to others should attempt it. Most people with this disorder experience considerable difficulty in a group setting and are better off working individually with a psychiatrist.
Complications of Schizotypal Personality Disorder
People with schizotypal disorders are at an increased risk of developing related conditions, including major depression, anxiety disorder and schizophrenia. Although schizotypal treatment is available, most people with this disorder never seek treatment. Their social anxiety, paranoid thoughts and general distrust of others causes them to retreat further into themselves. Many people with this disorder end up in a state of total isolation.
Symptoms of social isolation, anxiety, paranoia and eccentric behavior should be evaluated by a psychiatrist. Personality disorders often go untreated, but help is available. However, someone suffering from schizotypal symptoms will likely not seek help without encouragement.
Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. (2010). Schizotypal personality disorder. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://www.minddisorders.com/Py-Z/Schizotypal-personality-disorder.html
Grohol, J. (2010). Schizotypal personality disorder. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx33.htm
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Schizotypal personality disorder. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/schizotypal-personality-disorder/DS00830