BPD Related Conditions What Are Cluster C Personality Disorders? By Toketemu Ohwovoriole Toketemu Ohwovoriole LinkedIn Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics. Learn about our editorial process Updated on February 09, 2023 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Daniel B. Block, MD Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD LinkedIn Twitter Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Mario Arango / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Personality Disorder Clusters Causes Cluster C Types Avoidant Personality Dependent Personality OCPD Signs & Symptoms: Do I Have a Cluster C Personality Disorder? Diagnosis Treatment Coping FAQ Cluster C personality disorders are marked by symptoms of anxiety and fear. Cluster C personality disorders include avoidant personality disorder (AVPD), dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). Personality disorders are mental health conditions characterized by changes in a person’s mood, behavior, and thinking patterns. Read on to learn about Cluster C personality disorder types, how to identify if you might have one, and how it can be treated. Overview of Personality Disorder Clusters According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 9% of U.S. adults have been diagnosed with a personality disorder. What Are the Three Personality Disorder Clusters? The DSM-5-TR categorizes personality disorders into three clusters: Cluster A: People with Cluster A personality disorders exhibit behaviors others might find odd. They might have unusual levels of paranoia or severe disinterest in people and social relationships. Cluster B: This set of disorders causes a person to be overly dramatic or emotional. One of the most commonly recognized disorders in this cluster is borderline personality disorder, characterized by impulsive behaviors, unstable relationships, and emotions. Cluster C: Cluster C personality disorders trigger intense feelings and behaviors of anxiety and fear. History of the Term 'Borderline' in Borderline Personality Disorder Causes of Cluster C Personality Disorders Thoughts, behaviors, and emotions form your personality. Personality disorders can skew your personal and social relationships. A combination of genetics, environmental and developmental factors may contribute to developing personality disorders. Genetics One theory suggests that family history has a significant role to play. For example, you are more likely to develop a personality disorder if a parent or sibling has a personality disorder. Brain Changes Scientists have observed differences in brain structure in some people with certain personality disorders. In one study, scientists observed a decrease in grey matter in the medial temporal cortex of women with borderline personality disorder. Cultural Factors There's a connection between culture and personality disorders. Culture plays a vital role in defining who you are. It dictates many parts of your personality and self-image. Cultures encouraging emotional sensitivity are less likely to shape people who exhibit impulsive and suicidal behaviors. Trauma and Abuse Environmental factors also have a role to play, especially when combined with family history. For instance, a history of abuse can make you more susceptible to developing personality disorders. Research shows a strong link between childhood sexual trauma and borderline personality disorder. Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder Types of Cluster C Personality Disorders There are three types of Cluster C personality disorders, each with a set of unique symptoms and characteristics. Cluster C Types Avoidant personality disorder Dependent personality disorder Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder Avoidant Personality Disorder People with avoidant personality disorder (AVPD) struggle with feelings of inadequacy. They are typically overly sensitive to negative remarks and tend to avoid interacting with other people as a result. They are also likely to have low self-esteem and struggle to interact with new people. According to the DSM-5-TR, for a diagnosis of AVPD, a person must exhibit a consistent pattern of hypersensitivity to criticism, feelings of inadequacy, and avoiding social interactions. 11 Signs of Low Self-Esteem Dependent Personality Disorder As the name implies, dependent personality disorder makes people with the condition over-reliant on other people. They are likely to constantly seek external validation from others and become despondent when they feel they are not receiving adequate support. A person with a dependent personality disorder will exhibit people-pleasing behaviors and have an unreasonable fear of separation. A person with this condition must show a persistent need to be taken care of, leading them to become clingy and submissive. How to Avoid Being Clingy In Relationships Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) This personality disorder causes a person to develop an inflexible need for order and control. People with this condition are perfectionists and react negatively when people or situations threaten their sense of order. OCPD and OCD Are Not the Same Disorders It’s crucial to understand that obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is distinct from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a type of anxiety disorder. People with OCD are typically aware of their condition, while people with OCPD tend to be oblivious to the behaviors they are exhibiting. OCPD OCPD is a personality disorder Believes their thoughts and behaviors are right Driven by a need for perfection Capable of functioning efficiently OCD OCD is an anxiety disorder Feels distressed over their thoughts and behaviors Driven by a need to prevent disasters Struggle with daily functioning Signs & Symptoms: Do I Have a Cluster C Personality Disorder? Personality disorders are all characterized by changes to your personality. Symptoms of Cluster C personality disorders depend on your Cluster C condition. You might be wondering if you're exhibiting any signs or symptoms of a Cluster C personality disorder or know someone who is. Read ahead to learn more about the common signs and symptoms for each type of Cluster C personality disorder. Avoidant Personality Disorder Symptoms People with avoidant personality disorder exhibit behaviors such as: Avoiding work and social activities Having feelings of inferiority Being overly sensitive to criticism or negative feedback Having difficulty accepting rejection Being extremely shy or socially awkward Avoiding meeting new people or trying out new activities Dependent Personality Disorder Symptoms Dependent personality disorder causes a person to exhibit the following characteristics: Having a constant need to be in romantic relationships Entering a new romantic relationship as soon as one ends Having a fear of being alone Being overly dependent on other people Being unable to take care of one’s self adequately Tolerating abusive relationships or situations because of a fear of being alone Low self-esteem A constant need for external validation How Can I Stop Being Codependent? Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder Symptoms This personality disorder typically causes a person to fixate on minute details and systematization. Other symptoms include: Demanding perfection in all scenarios Being unable to function at any sign of disorder or disorganization Demanding perfectionism from themselves and others Needing to be in control of people and tasks at all times Being unable to delegate tasks How to Tell If You're a Perfectionist Diagnosis of Cluster C Personality Disorders Cluster C personality disorders must be diagnosed by a medical or mental health professional. If you are exhibiting symptoms, make an appointment with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. The DSM-5-TR provides diagnostic criteria for each personality disorder. After performing a physical exam to evaluate the severity of your symptoms, your doctor will likely compare the symptoms you’ve been exhibiting to the diagnostic criteria provided by the DSM-5-TR. Your physical exam involves an in-depth analysis of your family and medical history. Your family history is crucial as Cluster C personality disorders can be passed down through families. Cluster C Personality Disorder Treatment Treatment for a personality disorder can be challenging. The severity of your symptoms and any comorbid conditions you may have will typically be considered. Research shows that people with Cluster C personality disorders are at high risk of developing substance use disorder. A combination of medication and psychotherapy can be used to manage symptoms. Medications Although the FDA approves no specific medications for treating personality disorders,your doctor may prescribe medication for particular symptoms. If you exhibit signs of depression, your healthcare provider may prescribe antidepressants. Mood stabilizers can also help to regulate your mood if you’ve been experiencing severe mood swings. Psychotherapy Psychotherapy is a vital treatment tool for many mental health conditions, including personality disorders. You can consider different types of therapy, from group therapy to individual talk therapy. Therapy can equip you with the skills to handle social interactions and healthy coping mechanisms to handle challenging emotions. In many cases, psychotherapy is the first line of treatment used to manage personality disorders. Here's How to Find the Right Therapist for You Coping With Cluster C Personality Disorders Lifestyle management for personality disorders is just as crucial as treatment is for this group of conditions. Strategies that you can employ to cope better include: Exercise regularly: Staying physically active is vital when living with a mental health condition. Understandably, however, severe symptoms can make exercise challenging. To overcome this, find an activity you love and do it regularly. This could be swimming, dancing, or simply taking a daily walk in the park. Join a support group: Knowing you are not alone in dealing with your condition can be empowering. Joining a support group of people with Cluster C personality disorders helps you learn more about your condition and how best to manage it outside your treatment plan. Don’t stop treatment: It can be tempting to discontinue your treatment, especially when your symptoms are mild or dormant. However, sticking to your treatment plan is crucial until your doctor advises you to stop it. How to Cope With a Personality Disorder Frequently Asked Questions Frequently Asked Questions Is ADHD a Cluster C personality disorder? No, ADHD is not a personality disorder, it is a neurodevelopmental disorder. However, ADHD is often associated with Cluster B personality disorders (like borderline personality disorder), but a study found that ADHD can also co-occur alongside Cluster C personality disorder traits. Can personality disorders be cured? There’s currently no cure for personality disorders; however, they are treatable. Symptoms of personality disorders can be managed with medication and therapy to encourage changed behavior. An Overview of Mixed Personality Disorder 19 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Massaal-van der Ree LY, Eikelenboom M, Hoogendoorn AW, Thomaes K, van Marle HJF. Cluster B versus Cluster C Personality Disorders: A Comparison of Comorbidity, Suicidality, Traumatization and Global Functioning. Behav Sci (Basel). 2022;12(4):105. Published 2022 Apr 12. doi:10.3390/bs12040105 NIMH. Personality disorders. Ward RK. Assessment and management of personality disorders. AFP. 2004;70(8):1505-1512. Fatimah H, Wiernik BM, Gorey C, McGue M, Iacono WG, Bornovalova MA. Familial factors and the risk of borderline personality pathology: genetic and environmental transmission. Psychol Med. 2020;50(8):1327-1337. Soloff P, Nutche J, Goradia D, Diwadkar V. Structural brain abnormalities in borderline personality disorder: A voxel-based morphometry study. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging. 2008;164(3):223-236. Ronningstam EF, Keng SL, Ridolfi ME, Arbabi M, Grenyer BFS. Cultural aspects in symptomatology, assessment, and treatment of personality disorders. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2018;20(4):22. American Psychological Association. What causes personality disorders? Perry J. Cluster c personality disorders: avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive. In: Gabbard’s Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders. Fifth Edition. American Psychiatric Publishing; 2014. MSD Manual Professional Edition. Avoidant personality disorder (Avpd) - psychiatric disorders. MSD Manual Professional Edition. Dependent personality disorder (Dpd) - psychiatric disorders. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: Roncero C, de Miguel A, Fumero A, et al. Anxiety and depression in drug-dependent patients with cluster c personality disorders. Front Psychiatry. 2018;9:19. Ripoll LH. Psychopharmacologic treatment of borderline personality disorder. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. 2013;15(2):213-224. Davison SE. Principles of managing patients with personality disorder. Adv psychiatr treat. 2002;8(1):1-9. MSD Manual Professional Edition. Overview of personality disorders - psychiatric disorders. Koomen LEM, van der Horst MZ, Deenik J, Cahn W. Lifestyle interventions for people with a severe mental illness living in supported housing: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Front Psychiatry. 2022;13:966029. CDC. ADHD. Arancibia M, Valdivia S, Morales A, et al. Rasgos de personalidad del grupo C y trastorno por déficit de atención en estudiantes de medicina: estudio transversal analítico [Cluster C personality traits and attention deficit disorder in medical students. An analytical cross-sectional study]. Rev Med Chil. 2020;148(8):1105-1112. doi:10.4067/S0034-98872020000801105 Personality Disorder Awareness Network. Are personality disorders treatable? By Toketemu Ohwovoriole Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for BPD Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.