How to Best Support Treatment for Your Adult Child with Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Schizotypal personality disorder is a serious mental illness that causes odd behaviors, social anxiety and limited relationships, paranoid thoughts, and unusual perceptions. People with this condition struggle to function normally. Parents of adult children with schizotypal personality disorder can support them by getting an accurate diagnosis, providing access to residential treatment, and by having a safe place to come home to aftercare.
Personality disorders are always challenging to identify and recognize and to treat and manage. If your adult child has unusual behaviors characteristic of schizotypal personality disorder, it is essential that you push for a diagnosis and treatment.
This condition causes serious dysfunction and will never resolve or be manageable without professional care. You can support your son or daughter by providing access to residential treatment, learning more about the condition and how to help, and providing a safe place to live after treatment.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder – A Serious Mental Illness
Schizotypal personality disorder, or STPD, is one of several types of personality disorder. All of them are very serious mental illnesses that cause a lot of dysfunction. If your adult child has this disorder, they may struggle to function at home, in relationships, at school, at work, or in society generally.
Personality disorders cause abnormal patterns in how a person thinks, behaves, and functions that are difficult to change. STPD belongs to the cluster of personality disorders characterized by unusual behaviors and thoughts. Symptoms include:
- Unusual thoughts, mannerisms, and speech patterns
- A personal appearance and style of dress that is eccentric
- Flat or inappropriate emotional responses
- Social anxiety and social isolation
- Discomfort with or difficulty developing close personal relationships
- Suspicions and paranoia
- Believing unrelated events have a personal meaning or message
- Odd perceptions
- Believing in having special powers or in superstitions
Someone with STPD experiences these symptoms but also many ripple effects, especially poor functioning. Your son or daughter with this disorder may struggle to make friends or even to have normal social interactions with acquaintances. Your child will likely have a hard time being successful in school or in keeping a job. They may also suffer from depression or anxiety, severe psychotic episodes, substance use, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Start With a Differential Diagnosis
One of the best ways you can ensure your son or daughter gets the best treatment is to start with a clear, accurate diagnosis. Schizotypal personality disorder can be easily confused with other conditions, especially schizophrenia. Schizophrenia causes much deeper and longer periods of psychosis. People with STPD are usually able to distinguish between reality and their unusual thoughts, while those with schizophrenia cannot.
A good diagnosis will also include screening for and identifying any co-occurring conditions, including substance use disorders. It is very common for someone with one mental illness, including a personality disorder, to have others. Your adult child may have depression or an anxiety disorder and may have developed a habit of using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. The most effective treatment addresses all of these issues. Ignoring one or delaying treatment can derail progress in managing another.
What Is the Best Schizotypal Personality Disorder Treatment?
Once your loved one has received a diagnosis of STPD, you can work with mental health professionals to develop a treatment plan. Personality disorders are notoriously difficult to treat. People living with these conditions have a very hard time realizing that their thoughts, behaviors, and other patterns are in any way abnormal or destructive. For this reason, long-term residential care is often the best option for care.
Schizotypal Personality disorder treatment revolves around psychotherapy, although medications may be useful as well. Therapy can help patients make changes to their behaviors and reactions that make relating to others easier. Working on developing social relationships is an important focus of therapy for this personality disorder. Because someone with STPD struggles to connect with others, working with a therapist requires patience, time, and a buildup of trust and comfort.
While therapy is the most important kind of treatment, a benefit of residential care is that your son or daughter will have access to a number of complementary therapies. These may include medical care, holistic treatments, alternative therapies, nutrition and fitness, and many others. They can help supplement psychotherapy and help patients feel more comfortable and engaged.
Support Your Adult Child’s Treatment by Learning More
Family psychoeducation is an important part of treatment for someone with mental illness, particularly personality disorders. Research shows that this strategy is beneficial both for patients and their families, and that it reduces re-hospitalization for those with severe mental illness or psychosis.
Look for family psychoeducation programs to learn more about your adult child’s illness. These programs also typically include training for how to deal with a mental health crisis, practical strategies for supporting a loved one after treatment, conflict management, opportunities for family to be involved in treatment planning, and support for better intra-family communication.
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Get Involved in Treatment When Appropriate
Another way to support your adult child’s treatment is by participating when therapists believe it will be helpful. Research indicates that treatment outcomes are worse for patients with STPD who have poor social support. Being involved and showing active support for your adult child will likely help him through the treatment process.
Visit the treatment facility during the appropriate times, when family is encouraged to come and spend time with patients. If there are opportunities to join in on therapy or to begin family therapy sessions, get involved and show through your actions that you are there to provide patient, non-judgmental support for your child.
After Schizotypal Personality Disorder Treatment
Your adult child will eventually be ready to come home from residential treatment, but your support will need to continue. Providing material support, such as a home, transportation, help finding a job, and money, are crucial. Emotional and social support is also important. Here are some ways you can support your adult child after treatment:
- Encourage continued therapy sessions, and provide transportation if necessary.
- Engage in family therapy together.
- Provide healthy food, a quiet environment, and a safe home.
- Practice healthy social interactions together.
- Provide safe opportunities to practice socializing, such as with other family members.
- Listen to their experiences without judgment and without trying to control their decisions.
- Work together on coping strategies learned in therapy.
Supporting your adult child during and after treatment for STPD is difficult but important. They need your love and support to benefit from professional care and to be able to function after treatment. With education, patience, and by working with mental health professionals, you can ensure your adult child has the best chance of managing their condition and having a satisfying and fulfilling life.
If you’re concerned about a loved one and believe they may need residential care, we can help. BrightQuest offers long-term treatment for people struggling with complex mental health illnesses and co-occurring disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned program and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward recovery.