Humber
Mental Health Resources

Many students today are dealing with mental health issues - from stress management to a diagnosed mental illness. It is important to understand, identify and manage any barriers to success posed by mental health concerns. Below are some resources that may be helpful. These are not a substitute for professional counselling, and if you would like to discuss anything with a Counsellor, please contact us for an appointment.

Topics of Mental Health Resources

Addictions

Anxiety

Depression

Eating Disorders

Grief and Loss

General Mental Health

Personality Disorders

ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITY DISORDER

Sociopathic personality; Sociopathy; Personality disorder - antisocial Antisocial personality disorder is a mental health condition in which a person has a long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting, or violating the rights of others. This behavior is often criminal.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The causes of antisocial personality disorder are unknown. Genetic factors and child abuse are believed to contribute to the development of this condition. People with an antisocial or alcoholic parent are at increased risk. Far more men than women are affected. The condition is common in people who are in prison. Fire-setting and cruelty to animals during childhood are linked to the development of antisocial personality. Some people believe that psychopathic personality (psychopathy) is the same disorder. Others believe that psychopathic personality is a similar but more severe disorder.

Symptoms

A person with antisocial personality disorder may:

  • Be able to act witty and charming
  • Be good at flattery and manipulating other people's emotions
  • Break the law repeatedly
  • Disregard the safety of self and others
  • Have problems with substance abuse
  • Lie, steal, and fight often
  • Not show guilt or remorse
  • Often be angry or arrogant

Signs and tests

Like other personality disorders, antisocial personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation and the history and severity of symptoms. To be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, a person must have had conduct disorder during childhood.

Treatment

Antisocial personality disorder is one of the most difficult personality disorders to treat. People with this condition rarely seek treatment on their own. They may only start therapy when required to by a court. The effectiveness of treatment for antisocial personality disorder is not known. Treatments that show the person the negative consequences of illegal behavior seem to hold the most promise.

Expectations (prognosis)

Symptoms tend to peak during the late teenage years and early 20s. They sometimes improve on their own by a person's 40s.

Complications

Complications can include imprisonment, drug abuse, violence, and suicide.

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AVOIDANT PERSONALITY DISORDER

Avoidant personality disorder is a mental health condition in which a person has a lifelong pattern of feeling very shy, inadequate, and sensitive to rejection.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Personality disorders are lifelong patterns of behavior that cause problems with work and relationships. About 1% of the population has avoidant personality disorder. Both males and females have the condition equally. The cause is unknown.

Symptoms

People with avoidant personality disorder can't stop thinking about their own shortcomings. They form relationships with other people only if they believe they will not be rejected. Loss and rejection are so painful that these people will choose to be lonely rather than risk trying to connect with others.

Signs and tests

A person with avoidant personality disorder may:

  • Be easily hurt when people criticize or disapprove of them
  • Hold back too much in intimate relationships
  • Be reluctant to become involved with people
  • Avoid activities or jobs that involve contact with others
  • Be shy in social situations out of fear of doing something wrong
  • Make potential difficulties seem worse than they are
  • Hold the view they are not good socially, not as good as other people, or unappealing

Treatment

Antidepressant medications can often make people less sensitive to rejection. However, talk therapy (psychotherapy) is considered to be the most effective treatment for this condition. Psychodynamic psychotherapy, which helps patients understand their thoughts and feelings, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help. A combination of medication and talk therapy may be more effective than either treatment alone.

Expectations (prognosis)

People with this disorder may develop some ability to relate to others, and this can be improved with treatment.

Complications

Without treatment, a person with avoidant personality disorder may become resigned to a life of near or total isolation. They may go on to develop a second psychiatric disorder such as substance abuse or a mood disorder such as depression.

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BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER

Borderline personality disorder is a condition in which people have long-term patterns of unstable or turbulent emotions, such as feelings about themselves and others. These inner experiences often cause them to take impulsive actions and have chaotic relationships. Causes, incidence, and risk factors The causes of borderline personality disorder (BPD) are unknown. Genetic, family, and social factors are thought to play roles. Risk factors for BPD include:

  • Abandonment in childhood or adolescence
  • Disrupted family life
  • Poor communication in the family
  • Sexual abuse

This personality disorder tends to occur more often in women and among hospitalized psychiatric patients.

Symptoms

People with BPD are often uncertain about their identity. As a result, their interests and values may change rapidly. People with BPD also tend to see things in terms of extremes, such as either all good or all bad. Their views of other people may change quickly. A person who is looked up to one day may be looked down on the next day. These suddenly shifting feelings often lead to intense and unstable relationships. Other symptoms of BPD include:

  • Fear of being abandoned
  • Feelings of emptiness and boredom
  • Frequent displays of inappropriate anger
  • Impulsiveness with money, substance abuse, sexual relationships, binge eating, or shoplifting
  • Intolerance of being alone
  • Repeated crises and acts of self-injury, such as wrist cutting or overdosing

Signs and tests

Like other personality disorders, BPD is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation and the history and severity of the symptoms.

Treatment

Many types of individual talk therapy, such as dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), can successfully treat BPD. In addition, group therapy can help change self-destructive behaviors. In some cases, medications can help level mood swings and treat depression or other disorders that may occur with this condition.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outlook depends on how severe the condition is and whether the person is willing to accept help. With long-term talk therapy, the person will often gradually improve.

Complications

  • Depression
  • Drug abuse
  • Problems with work, family, and social relationships
  • Suicide attempts and actual suicide

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DEPENDENT PERSONALITY DISORDER

Dependent personality disorder is a long-term (chronic) condition in which people depend too much on others to meet their emotional and physical needs.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Dependent personality disorder usually begins in childhood. The causes of this disorder are unknown. It is one of the most common personality disorders, and is equally common in men and women.

Symptoms

People with this disorder do not trust their own ability to make decisions. They may be very upset by separation and loss. They may go to great lengths, even suffering abuse, to stay in a relationship. Symptoms of dependent personality disorder may include:

  • Avoiding being alone
  • Avoiding personal responsibility
  • Becoming easily hurt by criticism or disapproval
  • Becoming overly focused on fears of being abandoned
  • Becoming very passive in relationships
  • Feeling very upset or helpless when relationships end
  • Having difficulty making decisions without support from others
  • Having problems expressing disagreements with others

Signs and tests

Like other personality disorders, dependent personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation and the history and severity of the symptoms.

Treatment

Talk therapy (psychotherapy) is considered to be the most effective treatment for gradually helping people with this condition make more independent choices in life. Medication may help treat other conditions, such as anxiety or depression.

Expectations (prognosis)

Improvements are usually seen only with long-term therapy.

Complications

  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Depression
  • Increased likelihood of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse

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HISTRIONIC PERSONALITY DISORDER

Histrionic personality disorder is a condition in which people act in a very emotional and dramatic way that draws attention to themselves.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of this disorder is unknown. Both genes and early childhood events are thought to contribute. It occurs more often in women than in men, although it may be diagnosed more often in women because attention-seeking and sexual forwardness are less socially acceptable for women. Histrionic personality disorder usually begins in early adulthood.

Symptoms

People with this disorder are usually able to function at a high level and can be successful socially and at work. Symptoms include:

  • Acting or looking overly seductive
  • Being easily influenced by other people
  • Being overly concerned with their looks
  • Being overly dramatic and emotional
  • Being overly sensitive to criticism or disapproval
  • Believing that relationships are more intimate than they actually are
  • Blaming failure or disappointment on others
  • Constantly seeking reassurance or approval
  • Having a low tolerance for frustration or delayed gratification
  • Needing to be the center of attention (self-centeredness)
  • Quickly changing emotions, which may seem shallow to others

Signs and tests

The health care provider can diagnose histrionic personality disorder by looking at your:

  • Behavior
  • History
  • Overall appearance
  • Psychological evaluation

Like other personality disorders, histrionic personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation and the history and severity of the symptoms.

Treatment

People with this condition often seek treatment when they experience depression or anxiety from failed romantic relationships or other conflicts with people. Medication may help the symptoms, but talk therapy (psychotherapy) is the best treatment for the condition itself.

Expectations (prognosis)

Histrionic personality disorder can improve with psychotherapy and sometimes medications. If left untreated, it can cause conflict in people's personal life and prevent them from reaching their potential in their work life.

Complications

Histrionic personality disorder may affect your social or romantic relationships, or your ability to cope with losses or failures. You may go through many job changes as you become easily bored and have trouble dealing with frustration. Because you tend to crave new things and excitement, you may put yourself in risky situations. All of these factors may lead to a greater risk of depression.

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NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER

Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition in which people have an inflated sense of self-importance and an extreme preoccupation with themselves.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The causes of this disorder are unknown. An overly sensitive personality and parenting problems may affect the development of this disorder.

Symptoms

A person with narcissistic personality disorder may:

  • React to criticism with rage, shame, or humiliation
  • Take advantage of other people to achieve his or her own goals
  • Have excessive feelings of self-importance
  • Exaggerate achievements and talents
  • Be preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence, or ideal love
  • Have unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
  • Need constant attention and admiration
  • Disregard the feelings of others, and have little ability to feel empathy
  • Have obsessive self-interest
  • Pursue mainly selfish goals

Signs and tests

Like other personality disorders, narcissistic personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation and the history and severity of the symptoms.

Treatment Psychotherapy (for example, talk therapy) may help the affected person relate to other people in a more positive and compassionate way.

Expectations (prognosis) The outcome depends on the severity of the disorder.

Complications

  • Alcohol or other drug dependence
  • Relationship, work, and family problems

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OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE PERSONALITY DISORDER

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a condition in which a person is preoccupied with rules, orderliness, and control.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder tends to occur in families, so genes may be involved. A person's childhood and environment may also play roles. This condition can affect both men and women, but it most often occurs in men.

Symptoms

OCPD has some of the same symptoms as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, people with OCD have unwanted thoughts, while people with OCPD believe that their thoughts are correct. People with both OCPD and OCD tend to be high achievers and feel a sense of urgency about their actions. They may become very upset if other people interfere with their rigid routines. They may not be able to express their anger directly. Instead, people with OCPD experience feelings that they consider more appropriate, like anxiety or frustration.

A person with this personality disorder has symptoms of perfectionism that usually begin in early adulthood. This perfectionism may interfere with the person's ability to complete tasks, because their standards are so rigid.

People with this disorder may emotionally withdraw when they are not able to control a situation. This can interfere with their ability to solve problems and form close relationships. Some of the other signs of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder include:

  • Excess devotion to work
  • Inability to throw things away, even when the objects have no value
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Lack of generosity
  • Not wanting to allow other people to do things
  • Not willing to show affection
  • Preoccupation with details, rules, and lists

Signs and tests

OCPD can be diagnosed by an experienced mental health professional (psychiatrist or psychologist) with an evaluation. Psychological tests that may help diagnose this condition include:

  • The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM IV Disorders (SCID II)
  • The Schedule for Non-Adaptive and Adaptive Personality (SNAP)

Treatment

Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (for example, Prozac) may help reduce some of the anxiety and depression from this disorder. However, talk therapy (psychotherapy) is thought to be the most effective treatment for this condition.

  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy helps patients understand their thoughts and feelings.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can also help.

In some cases, medications combined with talk therapy may be more effective than either treatment alone.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outlook for people with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder tends to be better than that for other personality disorders. The rigidness and control of OCPD may prevent many of the complications such as drug abuse, which are common in other personality disorders. However, the social isolation and difficulty handling anger that are common with this illness may lead to feelings of depression and anxiety later in life.

Complications

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty moving forward in career situations
  • Relationship difficulties

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PARANOID PERSONALITY DISORDER

Paranoid personality disorder is a psychiatric condition in which a person has a long-term distrust and suspicion of others, but does not have a full-blown psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The causes of paranoid personality disorder are unknown. The disorder appears to be more common in families with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and delusional disorder, which suggests genes may be involved. However, environmental factors may play a role, as well. The condition appears to be more common in men.

Symptoms

People with paranoid personality disorder are highly suspicious of other people. As a result, people with this condition severely limit their social lives. They often feel that they are in danger, and look for evidence to support their suspicions. People with this disorder have trouble seeing that their distrustfulness is out of proportion to their environment. Common symptoms include:

  • Concern that other people have hidden motives
  • Expectation that they will be exploited by others
  • Inability to work together with others
  • Social isolation
  • Detachment
  • Hostility

Signs and tests

Like other personality disorders, paranoid personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation and the history and severity of the symptoms.

Treatment

Treatment is difficult because people with this condition are often very suspicious of doctors. If treatment is accepted, talk therapy and medications can often be effective.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outlook usually depends on whether the person is willing to accept help. Therapy and medications can reduce paranoia and limit its impact on the person's daily functioning.

Complications

  • Extreme social isolation
  • Interference with work

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SCHIZOID PERSONALITY DISORDER

Schizoid personality disorder is a psychiatric condition in which a person has a lifelong pattern of indifference to others and social isolation.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The causes of schizoid personality disorder are unknown. This disorder may be related to schizophrenia and it shares many of the same risk factors. However, schizoid personality disorder is not as disabling as schizophrenia. It does not cause hallucinations, delusions, or the complete disconnection from reality that occurs in untreated (or treatment-resistant) schizophrenia.

Symptoms

A person with schizoid personality disorder:

  • Appears aloof and detached
  • Avoids social activities that involve emotional intimacy with other people
  • Does not want or enjoy close relationships, even with family members

Signs and tests

Like other personality disorders, schizoid personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation and the history and severity of the symptoms.

Treatment

People with this disorder rarely seek treatment, and little is known about which treatments work. Talk therapy may not be effective, because people with schizoid personality disorder have difficulty relating well to others. However, one approach that appears to help is to put fewer demands for emotional closeness or intimacy on the person with this condition. People with schizoid personality disorder often do better in relationships that do not focus on emotional closeness. They are better at handling relationships that focus only on recreation, work, or intellectual activities and expectations.

Expectations (prognosis)

Schizoid personality disorder is a long-term (chronic) illness that usually does not improve much over time. Social isolation often prevents the person from seeking the help or support that might improve the outcome. Limiting emotional intimacy may help people with this condition make and keep connections with other people.

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SCHIZOTYPAL PERSONALITY DISORDER

Schizotypal personality disorder is a mental health condition in which a person has trouble with relationships and disturbances in thought patterns, appearance, and behavior.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The exact cause is unknown. Genes are thought to be involved, because this condition is more common in relatives of schizophrenics. Schizotypal personality disorder should not be confused with schizophrenia. People with schizotypal personality disorder can have odd beliefs and behaviors, but they are not disconnected from reality and usually do not hallucinate.

Hallucinations, delusions (fixed, false beliefs), and loss of touch with reality are hallmarks of psychosis. People with schizotypal personality disorder do not usually have psychotic symptoms.

Between 30% and 50% of people with schizotypal personality disorder also have a major depressive disorder. A second personality disorder, such as paranoid personality disorder, is also common with this condition.

Symptoms

People with schizotypal personality disorder may be very disturbed. Their odd behavior may look like that of people with schizophrenia. For example, they may also have unusual preoccupations and fears, such as fears of being monitored by government agencies.

More commonly, however, people with schizotypal personality disorder behave oddly and have unusual beliefs (aliens, witchcraft, etc.). They cling to these beliefs so strongly that it prevents them from having relationships. People with schizotypal personality disorder feel upset by their difficulty in forming and keeping close relationships. This is different from people with schizoid personality disorder, who do not want to form relationships.

Signs and tests

Some of the common signs of schizotypal personality disorder include the following:

  • Discomfort in social situations
  • Inappropriate displays of feelings
  • No close friends
  • Odd behavior or appearance
  • Odd beliefs, fantasies, or preoccupations
  • Odd speech

Treatment

Some people may be helped by antipsychotic medications. Talk therapy (psychotherapy) is a big part of treatment. Social skills training can help some people cope with social situations.

Expectations (prognosis)

Schizotypal personality disorder is usually a long-term (chronic) illness. The outcome of treatment varies based on the severity of the disorder.

Complications

  • Poor social skills
  • Lack of interpersonal relationships

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Shyness/Social Anxiety

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Stress Management

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Suicide

**If you are having thoughts about or have a plan to commit suicide, please contact the counselling department immediately to speak with a counsellor. If it is after business hours, please go the emergency department or call the distress line.

The following resources are for information only.

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