Schizoid personality disorder

Schizoid personality disorder is an uncommon condition in which people avoid social activities and consistently shy away from interaction with others. It affects more males than females. If you have schizoid personality disorder, you may be seen as a loner, and you may lack the desire or skill to form close personal relationships.

To others, you may appear somewhat dull or humorless. Because you don't tend to show emotion, you may appear as though you don't care about what's going on around you. Although you may seem aloof, you may actually feel lonely, even if it's hard for you to acknowledge. Or you may feel much more at ease being alone, and feel comfortable with your life.

The cause of schizoid personality disorder is unknown. Therapy and — in some cases — medications can help.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

People with schizoid personality disorder are loners. If you have this condition, you're likely to:

  • Prefer being alone and usually choose solitary activities
  • Prize independence and have few close friendships
  • Feel confused about how to respond to normal social cues and generally have little to say
  • Feel little if any desire for sexual relationships
  • Feel unable to experience pleasure
  • Come off as dull, indifferent or emotionally cold
  • Feel unmotivated and tend to underperform at school or work

Personality disorders begin in early adulthood, at the latest. Some of these tendencies may have first become noticeable during your childhood. They also occur across a range of social and personal situations. They may either cause you to have trouble functioning well in a job, socially or in other areas of life. However, you may do reasonably well in your job if you mostly work alone.

If you have schizoid personality disorder, you may not know how to form friendships, or you may feel too anxious around other people to try, so you simply give up and turn inward.

Schizophrenic spectrum

Schizoid personality disorder is considered part of the schizophrenic spectrum of disorders, which includes schizotypal personality disorder and schizophrenia. These conditions all have similar symptoms, such as a severely limited ability to make social connections along with a lack of emotional expression.

However, unlike schizotypal personality disorder and schizophrenia, people with schizoid personality disorder:

  • Are in touch with reality — they're unlikely to experience paranoia or hallucinations
  • Make sense when they speak, although the tone may not be animated — in contrast to conversational patterns of someone with schizotypal personality disorder or schizophrenia, which are typically strange and hard to follow

Classes of personality disorders

Another way of understanding personality disorders has been to group them into classes. Schizoid personality disorder, along with schizotypal and paranoid personality disorders, are grouped together as Class A personality disorders. Class A disorders refer to odd or eccentric behaviors. They differ from Class B — dramatic and emotional behaviors — and Class C — anxious and fearful behaviors.

When to see a doctor

Treatment for schizoid personality disorder is usually sought by people who are bothered by an associated problem, such as depression. In cases where the isolation is bothersome or the other symptoms are distressing, psychotherapy may be helpful.

If someone close to you has urged you to seek help for symptoms common to schizoid personality disorder, make an appointment, starting with a primary care physician or mental health professional.

If you suspect a loved one may have schizoid personality disorder, gently suggest that the person seek medical attention. It might help to offer to go with him or her to the first appointment.

The exact causes of schizoid personality disorder are unknown, although a combination of genetic and environmental factors — particularly in early childhood — are thought to increase the risk of developing the disorder.

Factors that increase your risk of developing schizoid personality disorder include:

  • Having a parent or other relative who has schizoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder or schizophrenia
  • Having a parent who was cold or unresponsive to emotional needs
  • Being hypersensitive or thin-skinned in your early teen years and having these needs treated with annoyance or scorn
  • Suffering child abuse, neglect or other mistreatment

People with schizoid personality disorder are at increased risk of:

  • Developing schizotypal personality disorder, schizophrenia or another delusional disorder
  • Major depression
  • Anxiety disorders
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