Schizotypal personality disorder (SPD) is a type of mental health diagnosis that is characterized by odd behaviors and beliefs that become the focus of the patient’s life so overwhelmingly that they find it difficult to connect with others in a meaningful way. The disorder can make it difficult for the patient to maintain positive relationships at home and in the community, which in turn can make it harder for them to find and maintain employment and function effectively on a day-to-day basis.
Schizotypal personality disorder often co-occurs with other disorders. Some conditions that commonly co-occur with SPD include:
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Substance abuse
When a patient experiences mental health symptoms that impair their ability to function healthfully with others, treatment can help.
When these mental health symptoms occur in combination with another disorder – like substance abuse and addiction – it is imperative that the treatment program includes services that actively direct specified treatment assistance to both disorders simultaneously.
Learn more about the possibilities provided by access to Dual Diagnosis treatment when you contact us at the phone number listed above today.
Signs and Symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Some signs of schizotypal personality disorder include:
- Odd beliefs
- Unusual ways of speaking or speech patterns
- Odd behaviors
- Abnormal choices in dress and appearance
- Excessive demonstration of emotion or feeling
- Discomfort in social contexts
- Abnormal preoccupations or obsessions (e.g., conspiracy theories, belief in UFOs or aliens, etc.)
- No close relationships
Often, odd thought patterns, beliefs and behaviors become such a preoccupation for the patient that they are unable to maintain normal relationships with others.
What Schizotypal Personality Disorder Is Not+
Schizotypal personality disorder is not schizophrenia. Though it can occur more often in families where another member is diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to a study published in Schizophrenia Bulletin, the two disorders are very different. Those diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder do NOT:
- Feel disconnected from reality
- Experience delusions
Disorders Commonly Confused with Schizotypal Personality Disorder
In addition to the common misconception that schizotypal personality disorder and schizophrenia are the same, a report published in the journal Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that there are a number of disorders that are confused with schizotypal personality disorder due to the similarity between symptoms.
Disorders commonly mistaken for or confused with schizotypal personality disorder include:
- Borderline personality disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Dependent personality disorder
The risk of misdiagnosis highlights the need for treatment that begins with a thorough and extensive evaluation and diagnostic process. The more intensive the initial evaluation of your loved one, the more likely it is that the medical and therapeutic team will be able to accurately identify the correct diagnoses and then implement evidence-based treatments that are proven to help eradicate, mitigate or manage symptoms for the long term.
Medications Used to Treat Schizotypal Personality Disorder
In order to help patients manage symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder, medications are often necessary. The type, dose and combination of medications appropriate for treatment will vary from patient to patient. Some options may include:
- Risperidone. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reports a generally positive outcome (e.g., decrease in negative symptoms and increase in positive symptoms) when risperidone is used in the treatment of schizotypal personality disorder.
- Haloperidol. A study published in Psychopharmacology Bulletin found the use of haloperidol to be effective in treatment for SPD.
- Thiothixene. In the case of the expression of specific symptoms, some patients may benefit from the use of thiothixene in SPD treatment, according to a study published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.
- Olanzapine. Only preliminary studies have been done to determine whether or not the use of olanzapine in the treatment of patients with schizotypal personality disorder will be effective, according to a study published in Schizophrenia Research, but it may be an effective choice in some cases, especially when depression and/or psychosis is an issue.
- Aripiprazole. A study published in the Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found the use of aripiprazole to be effective on a very limited basis in the treatment of schizotypal personality disorder. More study is needed.
Medication alone cannot treat schizotypal personality disorder. Talk therapy and social skills training are recommended.
Benefits of Integrated Treatment+
- The collaboration of specialists that focuses on the overall wellness and progress of the patient
- The ability to address all major obstacles to wellness at the same time
- Learned coping skills that assist the patient in feeling better and progressing in health physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually
- Provision of multiple layers of support to aid the patient in long-term recovery
Substance Abuse Co-occurring with Schizotypal Personality Disorder
It is estimated that six out of 10 people who struggle with a substance abuse or addiction issue are also living with a mental health disorder, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
That means that about 60 percent of people who seek treatment for drug or alcohol abuse will also need help dealing with mental health symptoms like the ones experienced by those living with schizotypal personality disorder.
Why does this happen? According to NIDA, there could be any combination of factors that create this phenomenon, including:
- Genetics. Both the development of mental health disorders like schizotypal personality disorder and the development of addiction have been traced back to genetics. The overlap of genetic vulnerabilities in both areas (e.g., a single patient coming from a family in which one or more close family members has also struggled with a personality disorder or drug abuse or addiction) could increase the risk of a Dual Diagnosis, or the diagnosis of co-occurring mental health and substance abuse problems.
- Environment. There are a lot of issues that can contribute to the development of a substance abuse disorder and mental health issues through environmental exposure. Experiencing an assault or attack, abuse, permissive attitudes toward drugs and alcohol, easy access to drugs and alcohol, and ongoing stress can all play a part. When a genetic predisposition to the development of these disorders is also an issue, the risks associated with environmental exposure increase.
- Connections in the brain. Some mental health disorders and drug use disorders impact or are impacted by similar areas in the brain. This means that the existence of certain mental health issues may increase the risk of development of drug and alcohol abuse and that the use of drugs and alcohol may increase the risk of the development of certain mental health symptoms.
- Developmental issues. Both mental health disorders and substance abuse and addiction are developmental disorders that often begin to manifest during adolescence when the brain is still actively developing. Early drug use can alter the development of the brain and increase the likelihood that drug abuse will turn into addiction and/or that mental illness will develop. In the same way, the expression of mental health issues early on may increase the likelihood that the patient will develop a substance abuse issue later.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
When a diagnosis of both a mental health disorder like schizotypal personality disorder and a drug or alcohol addiction is present, Dual Diagnosis treatment is recommended. Only at a Dual Diagnosis rehab program can a patient be guaranteed:
- Extensive evaluation to ensure a proper diagnosis
- A team approach to treatment and recovery on both fronts
- Effective medical care and pharmacological treatment, if necessary
- Intensive treatment for the mental health disorder
- Intensive treatment for the addiction disorder
- Integrated care that prioritizes the efficacy of both factors in recovery
- Ongoing therapeutic support after treatment
Step-by-Step: Growth Through Multiple Layers of Treatment
When schizotypal personality disorder is an issue, there are certain therapies that will be effective. Additionally, depending on the drug of choice and other issues that are problematic in the patient’s life, a number of different types of therapies may be effective in providing your loved one with the multilayered care necessary to make steady and marked progress in every problematic area.
Patients may wish to incorporate any of the following into their Dual Diagnosis treatment program when both schizotypal personality disorder and addiction occur:
- One-on-one therapy. A staple in mental health and substance abuse treatment, personal therapy provides a solid foundation for patients as they plan their treatment programs and identify and troubleshoot obstacles as they arise.
- Group therapy. Getting support from others who struggle with substance abuse can be beneficial in helping patients to learn from the mistakes of others, share personal struggles, and offer support to those in the same boat they find themselves. For those living with SPD, group therapy can offer a safe place to practice effective communication skills and learn how to better interact with others.
- Social skills groups. These group sessions are focused solely on learning the art of communication and appropriate social interactions are extremely beneficial for those living with SPD.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. For SPD patients and addicts in recovery, learning how to recognize the behavioral and thought patterns that are causing them to make harmful choices and then working to create new and positive frameworks and perspectives can be hugely beneficial.
- Holistic treatment. Reducing overall stress through yoga, meditation, massage and bodywork while also improving physical and mental wellness through nutritional counseling, personal training, and other holistic treatment options can increase the efficacy of the treatment program as a whole and make the process of recovery easier and more long-lasting.
Get Started Today
If your loved one is living with a schizotypal personality disorder and/or a substance abuse problem, it is likely that you will need to assist them in finding the most appropriate treatment program possible. However, it’s not a process that you have to undertake alone.
Call us at the phone number listed above and speak to an admissions coordinator today. We will be able to answer your questions about Dual Diagnosis treatment and talk to you about the needs of your loved one in recovery. Additionally, we will be able to connect you with a Dual Diagnosis rehab program that provides the specialized care necessary to help your loved one begin the growing and healing process now.
You don’t have to wait to connect your loved one with information that can make a real difference. Call now to jumpstart recovery for your loved one and your family.
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton