What Is Schizotypal Personality Disorder?

Medically Reviewed By Karin Gepp, PsyD
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Schizotypal personality disorder (STPD) is a mental health condition characterized by distorted views of reality. People with STPD usually express paranoid ideas and eccentric behaviors. They also tend to shy away from social interactions and relationships. Some cases of STPD develop into schizophrenia, which is another mental health condition wherein someone may interpret reality unusually.

Treatments for STPD usually focus on treating anxiety and improving thinking skills. They include atypical antipsychotics, antidepressants, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and supportive psychotherapy.

This article explains what STPD is. It also describes the symptoms, causes, and treatment options associated with the condition.

What is schizotypal personality disorder?

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STPD is a mental health condition that can affect a person’s perception of reality. 

People with STPD typically think, speak, and behave unusually without knowing it. They may, for example, express a belief in magic and paranormal phenomena. They may also misinterpret other people’s motives and avoid social interactions.

Some people with STPD go on to develop schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a severe mental health condition in which you may see, hear, or believe things that are not real.

Schizotypal personality disorder vs. schizophrenia

STPD and schizophrenia are on the same spectrum of mental health conditions, but they are not the same.

Schizophrenia is a different condition, marked by intense hallucinations and distorted views. People with the condition often have delusions and show disordered behaviors. They may also be unlikely to accept that their ideas and behaviors are unusual. 

In the case of STPD, however, adequate therapy can help a person with the condition recognize and change their distorted views.

Another condition with links to schizophrenia is schizoid personality disorder. Schizoid personality disorder is a mental health condition in which a person shows a complete lack of interest in social relationships and prefers solitude and secretiveness. Some people with schizoid personality disorder also develop schizophrenia.

What are the symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder?

If a person has STPD, they may display unusual behaviors but be unaware of them. They may also feel uncomfortable around other people. 

Other things that someone may notice include the following:

  • Others may see their speech as odd.
  • Others may see their dressing habits as odd.
  • They may shun social relationships and have no friends. 
  • They may have symptoms of extreme anxiety.
  • They may have unusual ideas and thoughts, including magical beliefs.
  • They may be paranoid, suspicious, and mistrustful of people.
  • They may misinterpret ordinary events or situations.
  • They may indulge in imagination and daydreaming.
  • They may think of themselves as able to read minds.
  • They may appear to have little concern for others.
  • They may exhibit restricted emotional reactions.

What causes schizotypal personality disorder? 

Researchers have yet to establish the exact cause of STPD. However, they tend to believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors plays a role.

These factors include:

  • a family history of STPD or other personality disorders 
  • a family history of schizophrenia or psychosis
  • previous brain trauma, abuse trauma, or a similar brain-related problem 

Risk factors

Most cases of STPD begin in the teenage years.

How do doctors diagnose schizotypal personality disorder?

STPD shares many similarities with other personality disorders. Because of this, it can be difficult to diagnose. Also, people with the condition are not usually aware of it and are unlikely to seek medical care.

If a person does seek treatment, a doctor will make their diagnosis by asking some questions. These may include questions about their family history, medical history, and symptoms.

A doctor may also perform a physical examination to determine if an underlying physical condition is causing the symptoms.

How is schizotypal personality disorder treated? 

Doctors approach STPD the same way they do other personality disorders: by administering medications and performing therapies. Although these treatments will not cure the condition, they may reduce anxiety and improve cognitive skills. 

Treatments include:

  • Atypical antipsychotics: These are medications that can reduce anxiety and depression. They are generally effective but may have a few side effects, such as dizziness and nausea.
  • Antidepressants: These may also reduce depression and other psychotic symptoms. They work by balancing signaling molecules in the brain. There may be a few side effects, such as a dry mouth, weight gain, and dizziness.
  • CBT: This is a type of therapy that helps you recognize negative thoughts and behavior patterns.

Self-care strategies

According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are some self-care strategies that can help people cope with STPD. They include:

  • learning about the condition
  • staying away from drugs and alcohol
  • exercising regularly
  • getting enough rest
  • keeping in touch with family and friends

What are the complications of schizotypal personality disorder? 

STPD can affect a person’s social participation. This, in turn, can cause:

  • stress
  • depression
  • anxiety 
  • performance issues at school or work

Some cases of STPD can also progress into schizophrenia.

Summary

Schizotypal personality disorder (STPD) is a mental health condition that affects a person’s perception of reality. It can cause paranoia, speech problems, depression, and a lack of social participation. It can also make a person misinterpret ordinary situations and mistrust people.

People with STPD may be at higher risk of developing schizophrenia.

Treatments for STPD aim to reduce anxiety and improve cognitive functioning. Treatments can include antidepressants, atypical antipsychotics, CBT, and supportive psychotherapy.

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Medical Reviewer: Karin Gepp, PsyD
Last Review Date: 2022 Jun 10
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