A study out of Norway shows that parents with symptoms of certain personality disorders can predict the development of anxiety/depressive disorders in kids. While more research is needed, this finding could encourage more people with personality disorders to engage in treatment for their own benefit, as well as their children.

The American Psychiatric Association classifies personality disorders (such as narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder) as “way[s] of thinking, feeling, and behaving that deviate from the expectations of [a] culture.” These deviations cause distress for the patient and causes them impairment in different areas of life. Personality disorders are also longstanding—meaning a patient usually has had the traits of a personality disorder for the majority of his/her life. So, we know that personality disorders affect the person suffering from them, but could they affect a person’s children as well?

A study in Norway of 594 individuals with personality disorder symptoms showed that their offspring were at increased risk of developing anxiety or depressive disorders. In the study, children (ages 4-6) of the patients under investigation were shown to develop anxiety or depressive disorders in just 2 years. Moreover, the study showed that parents didn’t necessarily need to meet all criteria for a given personality disorder, as the patients in the study had symptoms of a certain disorder.

This study can be taken in a hopeful way. It can be very hard for patients with personality disorders to want to reach out for help. If physicians encourage clients to think about their children’s future mental health, as well as their own, perhaps more people will seek treatment. At CalPsychiatry, our clinicians have a focus on treating clients with personality disorders. We encourage patients who are struggling with the diagnosis of a personality disorder or think they might be to reach to one of our many locations.


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