Schizoid personality disorder is a mental illness where the individual suffering from it experiences a great deal of indifference toward most, if not all facets of their life. This indifference can affect personal relationships, their work life, their motivation to pursue their passions, and their overall outlook on life and their purpose in it, or lack thereof.
Depression is not an uncommon mental disorder to be conjoined with those suffering from schizoid personality disorder. This should come to no surprise due to the fact that indifference and apathy are very common symptoms of depression, as well as schizoid personality disorder. It is this great feeling of emptiness toward nearly everything that can lead to depression, and even suicidal ideations.
This mental illness should not get confused with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia and schizoid personality disorder are two completely different mental illnesses. Schizophrenics have thoughts and/or experiences that are out of touch with reality, including but not limited to experiencing hallucinations. Schizoid personality disorder is an illness that affects the individual’s personality by making it very difficult for them to experience joy and happiness in things that most people find to be meaningful, like relationships or hobbies, among other things.
This mental disorder can be somewhat difficult to diagnose also, especially because it shares similar symptoms with other mental illnesses like depression and social anxiety disorder, for example. However, just because someone suffers from schizoid personality disorder does not necessarily mean that they are depressed. People with this disorder experience a lack of an emotional response to things. Whether a given situation is meant to evoke a happy response or a sad response, they may merely experience the emotional state of apathy.
Causes of Schizoid Personality Disorder
The exact cause of this mental disorder is unknown. Nevertheless, genetics and environmental factors may contribute to the development of this mental illness. According to Psychology Today, “Some mental health professionals speculate that a bleak childhood where warmth and emotion were absent contributes to the development of the disorder .” This makes sense when we look at the specific symptoms of this illness.
Most personality disorders are developed during childhood or early adulthood. It is somewhat unclear as to why some individuals develop one mental illness over another, especially with regards to personality disorders. Be that as it may, a person’s risk for developing schizoid personality disorder is heightened if the illness runs in the family and/or if their upbringing was brought with a lack of compassion and emotion by their guardian(s). A child’s mind can be easily influenced, especially by their parents (role models).
Genetics is also a very pertinent factor when looking to see why some people develop one disorder over another. For example, someone who has a family history of mental illness, especially of personality disorders may have a higher chance of developing schizoid personality disorder in particular. This may be due to them also having a genetic predisposition to developing mental illness in general. Moreover, with such a genetic predisposition, it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full-blown schizoid personality disorder.
The consensus among most mental health professionals is that both genetics and environmental factors play very significant roles in the development of any given mental disorder. So, taking a closer look at these two different parameters may shed some light as to whether or not you may be at risk for developing schizoid personality disorder.
Symptoms of Schizoid Personality Disorder
There are many distinct symptoms of schizoid personality disorder. According to Web MD, “People with schizoid personality disorder often are reclusive, organizing their lives to avoid contact with other people. Many never marry or may continue to live with their parents as adults .” This is greatly due to the indifference and apathy that seems to overwhelmingly consume their perception of life. Thus, leaving them with little to no interest to care about things, like relationships or hobbies.
Some other common symptoms of schizoid personality disorder is showing little emotion, an inability or difficulty with relating to others, a lack of enjoyment in most activities, no desire to form any type of close relationship with people (even with family members), they may daydream or fantasize about complex inner lives, they usually don’t have any close friends, and they typically choose jobs where human interaction is at a minimum.
5 Most Common Symptoms
1.) Feelings of indifference
Feeling apathetic or indifferent toward most things is a very common symptom of schizoid personality disorder. Indifference is defined as having no particular interest or sympathy; unconcerned. People suffering from schizoid personality disorder can inevitably expect to experience much of their time feeling this way. Their intense boredom and lack of interest may make even the most menial of tasks appear prodigious. This may lead them to experience some symptoms of depression in addition to the many other symptoms that are associated with schizoid personality disorder.
There are many different ways that someone can combat feelings of apathy. However, someone suffering from full-blown schizoid personality disorder will likely not be able to alter their indifference so easily as their apathy is deeply rooted in their mental illness and is not merely a consequence of having a lack of things to do. With this being said, some people suffering with schizoid personality disorder may appear to be unmotivated or indolent most of the time. Although this may indeed be their true nature, such temperaments are more likely to be the direct result of their mental illness.
Being reclusive means avoiding the company of other people. Such antisocial behavior can sometimes get someone with schizoid personality disorder confused for having social anxiety disorder or depression, among other conditions. Such a reality can make diagnosing schizoid personality disorder to be somewhat difficult given the fact that so many symptoms are also experienced in various other conditions. With this being said, if you have an inclination to believe that you may have schizoid personality disorder, then you should make sure that you seek out a very experienced psychiatrist to be properly diagnosed.
Someone feeling reclusive will likely isolate themselves from other people as often as they can. This may lead them to spending most of their days alone in their home. However, being in the presence of people itself is not necessarily indicative of being social as someone with schizoid personality disorder may be forced to be near other people due to their job, only to be emotionally cut off from anyone in their presence. As the old apothegm goes, they may feel alone in a crowd of people. Although one of many symptoms, reclusiveness is often seen as a tell-tale sign of schizoid personality disorder.
3.) Showing little emotion
Emotions such as intense happiness, rage, or even mild joy may be quite uncommon experiences for someone suffering from full-blown schizoid personality disorder. Although they will not be completely emotionless as they will assuredly experience the emotion of boredom, as well as some other emotions, the intensity of emotions that are common in the human experience such as happiness, envy, and anxiousness, will likely be dulled down to the point of being almost undetectable. Their lack of emotions may also make it very difficult for them to form and maintain healthy relationships with others.
Due to the reality that there are many other mental disorders which also have the symptom of emotionlessness, schizoid personality disorder may be somewhat difficult to diagnose. Also, when experiencing emotionlessness or near emotionlessness, most people often associate that with depression or sociopathy. Although a lack of emotions is in fact common among those two conditions, it does not an indication that those are the disorders with which someone experiencing emotionlessness must have, as there are a breadth of unique symptoms that are only associated with depression, sociopathy, and schizoid personality disorder. So, taking this into consideration is very important before getting diagnosed with this condition or of one with similar symptoms.
Another common symptom associated with schizoid personality disorder is daydreaming. This may be due to the fact that most people suffering with schizoid personality disorder are very inward and spend much of their time thinking, as opposed to expressing themselves outwardly with others. This is to be expected among people who are reclusive and indifferent. Someone with this disorder experiencing the antithesis of this would be much more alarming. This should come to no surprise seeing as how people with schizoid personality disorder are not typically social people. This is pertinent because those who live mostly inner lives are often deemed as being introverts. Although not all people with schizoid personality disorder are introverts, they are likely to be the majority, at least given the symptoms they experience from their condition.
Although daydreaming in itself is not necessarily a harmful thing to do as it can be very beneficial for helping to give birth to innovative ideas, it can also be pernicious if left uncontrolled. Constant daydreaming may lead to worry thoughts, which may increase their anxiety. Such worry thoughts may even increase some other symptoms of their schizoid personality disorder too. However, this will likely vary from person to person.
5.) Relationship issues
People suffering from schizoid personality disorder will likely have a very difficult time with forming and maintaining healthy relationships with others. Although they may be aware of this struggle, they may not care too much about it due to their intense feelings of indifference. Although this is not always the case with every person, someone suffering from full-blown schizoid personality disorder may have such a difficulty time with forming and maintaining healthy relationships with others that they may just submit to their desire to be reclusive. Thus, exponentially exacerbating their reclusiveness.
The relationship issues that someone with schizoid personality disorder can expect to experience will likely extend far beyond just romantic relationships, as they will also likely have a difficult time in their day-to-day work life insofar as they are subjected to other people. This is especially true for those who have jobs where group projects (which encourage open discussions with other workers) are commonplace. In such a job setting, someone with schizoid personality disorder will likely have a very challenging time as they will likely be very indifferent toward the entire process, as well as deeply desiring to be isolated from their coworkers.
Schizoid Personality Disorder Diagnosis Criteria
First and foremost, the mental healthcare professional will likely ask you a variety of questions to get an idea of the current status quo of your mental health. Some of these questions will be about any symptoms you are experiencing, how these symptoms are affecting your life, as well as some questions about your family history. Essentially, the mental health professional will try to get as much relevant information about you as possible to ensure that a proper and accurate diagnosis of schizoid personality disorder is justified.
There are no lab tests that exist to specifically diagnose this mental disorder. However, there are many specific questions that the therapist or psychiatrist may be prompted to ask to help them figure out whether or not you meet the necessary criteria to be diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder. A very important criterion for diagnosing any mental disorder is that the symptoms they are experiencing as a result of their illness must have a large negative impact on their day-to-day life.
Treatments of Schizoid Personality Disorder
Sometimes antidepressants are prescribed for those suffering from schizoid personality disorder. This may help if the individual is suffering from major depression in addition to their personality disorder.
However, according to Psych Central, “Most patients show no additional improvement with the addition of an antidepressant medication, though, unless they are also suffering from suicidal ideation or a major depressive episode. Long-term treatment of this disorder with medication should be avoided; medication should be prescribed only for acute symptom relief .”
Psychotherapy is typically the main type of treatment that individuals with schizoid personality disorder undergo. “Treatment likely will focus on increasing general coping skills, as well as on improving social interaction, communication, and self-esteem .” This mental illness, like most, is a lifelong illness that can be improved with a combination of consistent therapy and a desire to want to decrease one’s symptoms.
Therapy should focus on treatment goals that help to minimize any current pressing concerns or anxieties within the person’s life. Moreover, cognitive-restructuring may be an effective way to address specific types of clear, irrational thoughts that are unproductively influencing the individual’s behaviors.
It is important to note that stability and support are paramount to successful treatment with someone who suffers from schizoid personality disorder. However, it is also important for someone with schizoid personality disorder to also learn how to cope with their condition on their own as well.
Schizoid Personality Disorder and Depression
Although the condition major depressive disorder may sometimes be confused for schizoid personality disorder, they are indeed two distinct illnesses. People suffering from schizoid personality disorder may find their apathy and indifference toward most things, as well as their reclusive antisocial behavior to be the tell-tale signs of depression, according to their psychiatrist. This could be a costly mistake seeing as how these two mental disorders have very little in common.
The main symptoms that both schizoid personality disorder and major depressive disorder share are apathy and reclusiveness. Although people who are depressed will most definitely endure such symptoms, they will also experience a breadth of other symptoms which are related to the foregoing ones. Such symptoms that someone with depression will distinctly experience are hopelessness, suicidal ideations, intense loneliness, and self-loathing, among other things.
Although it is not impossible for someone suffering from schizoid personality disorder to experience some of these symptoms as well, they are not associated with their condition and may just be acute transitory experiences as opposed to enduring them chronically over a long period of time. For example, some people who experience a death in the family or a divorce may say that they are then depressed as a result of the dismal emotions they are experiencing. Although they may feel depressed, there are certain criteria that must be met for someone to truly be diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
For instance, a very distinct symptom of depression is suicidal ideations. Although such behaviors can also be seen in people who have borderline personality disorder and panic disorder, it is oftentimes a very common symptoms of depression. Suicidal ideations, although possible, is not often seen in people who suffer from schizoid personality disorder, at least not as a result of their condition alone.
If you haven’t already noticed, the many symptoms of schizoid personality disorder are not very distinct to this disorder only. Many of the symptoms someone with schizoid personality disorder can expect to experience are also symptoms that are commonplace among a plethora of other mental disorders, such as social anxiety disorder, depression, and antisocial personality disorder, among others. However, when listing the symptoms of those mental disorders, one can clearly see how these conditions differ from one another. Thus, why it may be quite challenging for someone to accurately be diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder in the first place.
So, as you can see, there may be a high chance of someone being inaccurately diagnosed with major depressive disorder as opposed to schizoid personality disorder merely due to the symptoms of both of these conditions becoming blurred to a certain degree. With this being said, it is very important that you seek out a very experienced and adept psychiatrist or psychologist if you are trying to get a proper diagnosis. Doing so may prove to be immensely important as you will then be able to receive the proper treatment that will be targeted for your specific condition, as well as your specific symptoms.
4 ways to counteract feelings of indifference
1.) Opposite action
Although this may sound rather obvious, doing the opposite of how you feel can actually be extremely beneficial for trying to counteract the emotion of indifference. In fact, doing the opposite, or “opposite action” as it is oftentimes referred to as is a very effective dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) technique. DBT is often used for people who suffer from emotion regulation issues and seeing as how indifference/apathy is an emotion, this technique should also be able to help someone suffering from schizoid personality disorder as well.
In this context, the opposite action technique would work by having the person with schizoid personality disorder do the opposite of what their indifference “tells them to do”. When we feel apathetic, we sometimes are led down a rabbit hole of symptoms, which can include loneliness, hopelessness, and a slew of other unfavorable states of mind. When someone with schizoid personality disorder experiences the emotion of indifference, they can work to combat such symptoms from manifesting by forcing themselves to do that which they are resisting.
For example, when we feel indifferent toward most things, we may be so apathetic that we will not even want to get out of bed. If someone with schizoid personality disorder was experiencing such indifference, then doing the opposite would mean them getting out of bed and doing something interesting or mentally stimulating. Although there will definitely be some resistance when doing the opposite of how they feel, this resistance will likely not last very long.
2.) Try a new hobby
A large reason as to why we become indifferent is due to our perception that there is simply a lack of interesting things to do which is worthy of our attention and time. Someone with schizoid personality disorder may greatly benefit from picking up a new hobby as it can be an effective way for them to redirect their attention onto something productive and interesting, as opposed to them simply being bored and feeling depressed.
Although it may sound easy to just pick up a new hobby, it can indeed be rather challenging at times to do so. If you suffer from schizoid personality disorder and you find this to be the case, then you may want to brainstorm about what it is that you are interested in. In fact, you may discover new things that you have never done before which you may enjoy doing once you try it, such as hiking, learning a new skill, or any other arbitrary thing for that matter.
For people with schizoid personality disorder experiencing the emotion of indifference, finding a new hobby can significantly help to combat feelings of apathy. Although, as is the case with the opposite action technique, there will likely also be a high amount of resistance for someone with schizoid personality disorder to even start a new hobby in the first place seeing as how their deep feelings of indifference will hinder their eagerness to do so.
3.) Get active
Exercise is known to have a plethora of mental health benefits, and one of those benefits includes being a great way to help you from becoming apathetic. In fact, exercise in general is highly encouraged among those suffering from depression and anxiety disorders. The former of the two often involve symptoms of sadness, loneliness, and despair. These symptoms may also eventually be experienced in someone suffering from schizoid personality disorder as well. And just as exercise can help someone suffering from depression, it can also help someone with schizoid personality disorder as well, to a certain degree.
People who feel indifferent typically do not want to exercise as they will be to apathetic toward it. They may know of the many mental health benefits of it, but their desire to act on such facts will likely be greatly suppressed as their feelings of indifference will likely reign supreme. With this being the case for many people suffering from schizoid personality disorder, they may greatly benefit from getting a personal trainer to help them create a workout routine that they can adhere to on a consistent basis.
The type of activity that would benefit someone with schizoid personality disorder is virtually anything that will get them up and moving. This includes swimming, skiing, hiking, jogging, and resistance training, among many other forms of fitness. It is probably best for someone with schizoid personality disorder to pick a form of exercise they are most interested in, even if only a little, so that they have a better chance of sticking to it.
4.) Mindfulness meditation
Although sitting in a room by oneself may sound depressing to some people, such a painful and lonely experience can be quite the opposite insofar as their attention is pointed in the right direction. That is what mindfulness meditation can be used for. Being mindful simply means being attentive or aware. With regards to schizoid personality disorder, they can use mindfulness as a tool to help them redirect their thoughts of indifference and any other emotion which may come to the surface as a result of such indifference by spending time observing the way their body feels in an objective, nonjudgmental way.
For example, to utilize mindfulness meditation effectively, someone with schizoid personality disorder can spend some time out of their day to meditate on the breath. This would entail them finding a peaceful, quiet area where they can comfortably sit down at. Upon sitting down, they would then focus all of their attention (as best they could) on the sensations they experience as they take each breath. This would include noticing the rise and fall of the chest during breathing, the sensation of air as it fills the lungs, and so on.
There are many different ways to meditate mindfully in ways that can help to regulate one’s emotions, including the emotion of indifference. For example, you can use your sense of sight to meditate, your sense of smell, your sense of touch, your sense of hearing, and your sense of taste to help improve your overall equanimity. Doing so may help those suffering from schizoid personality disorder who are specifically experiencing symptoms of apathy.
5 ways to counteract feelings of reclusiveness
Below, you will see a handful of ways that you can work toward being less reclusive. Whether you have schizoid personality disorder or you simply find that you are much more reclusive than you would like to be, then the following section may be of great use to you. Upon reading them, if you are unsure as to whether or not such techniques will be useful to you or if you have some questions about other ways that you can help to counteract feelings of reclusiveness, then you should talk to your doctor or therapist as soon as you can so that you can resolve any concerns you may have about this topic.
1.) Be open to those who you care about
Feelings of reclusiveness is one of the main symptoms of schizoid personality disorder. With that being said, there are indeed ways to form healthier behavior habits, such as being open to the people whom are closest to you in your life. Not everyone you know will be receptive to learning sensitive information about you, so it is very important to only convey such information to those people you care about the most.
Although this will likely be very difficult for someone with schizoid personality disorder to do at first given their intense desire to be reclusive and to not be open with others, doing so may help to significantly improve the relationships you already have. To start, you can share with them the way you feel as it pertains to feeling reclusive. If you are unhappy with being reclusive and would like to combat such behaviors, then this may be something you will want to share with your loved ones. Doing so may help to grow your support system.
2.) Force yourself to interact with others
Although forcing yourself to go out and talk to other people may sound antithetical to what someone suffering from schizoid personality disorder would do, it can significantly help them to improve their feelings of reclusiveness. Doing so may help them to form new social habits, which will thereby reduce their old habits of reclusiveness. If you are truly uninterested in even trying this, then you can start off slowly by forcing yourself to have more interactions with your loved ones. This may help you to become more comfortable with interacting with people in general.
Once you have improved enough from interacting with the people who are closest to you, you may then be ready to go out and try to naturally interact with people who you don’t know insofar as the situation calls for it. Even though interacting with such people will likely not seem very interesting at first for someone with schizoid personality disorder, it can be the gateway to which many other fruitful interactions are possible. Such interactions can be as arbitrary as with a cashier at a store. Essentially, it doesn’t really matter who you are interacting with, as long as you are putting in the effort to do so.
3.) Go to a new place everyday
Although this may sound like a fun adventure for someone to partake in, the mere thought of going to a new place or area everyday may seem quite uninteresting and challenging for someone with schizoid personality disorder as they will often have feelings of indifference and reclusiveness toward most things. However, doing so may in fact help them to counteract their deep feelings of reclusiveness. The place they go to doesn’t matter at all, but rather that they simply put themselves out there and challenge themselves by going to a new place or area.
This may include them going to a new store once a day, a new restaurant, a new town, etc. Such adventuring may help to spark a new behavioral habit in them, which would be to not embrace reclusiveness. By definition, someone who is reclusive will not make it a point to do these things and will likely find themselves not leaving the house on most days. So, although someone who is reclusive will likely experience a high amount of resistance when trying to go to a new place everyday, the potential benefits of partaking in this new habit will surely outweigh the cons.
Volunteering is another great way to help someone who is reclusive to get out there and interact with other people. Most communities often have places where you can volunteer your time and effort, such as hospitals or nursing homes, among many other places. Choosing to volunteer somewhere can not only help you to counteract feelings of reclusiveness, but it can also help you to feel better about yourself as you would be helping people and building new relationships. This can be a big first step for you if you are wanting to become less reclusive.
When people volunteer at hospitals for instance, they usually show up there at the same time every week. So, this type of structure may make it much easier to create new social habits as you will have more incentive to volunteer seeing as how people will be expecting to see you at those certain times. Besides this, some people just prefer a more structured life. If this sounds like you, then you may want to consider volunteering somewhere in your community. Although you may find it to be anxiety provoking or uninteresting at first, you may grow to greatly appreciate your experience there.
5.) Go on a road trip
When people become bored, it is not uncommon for them to go off on a mini road trip to just get away and recharge their batteries. This behavior, although uncommon for people with schizoid personality disorder given their reclusiveness and indifference, can be quite beneficial, especially for those who don’t get out much. Going on a trip, whether it be a short trip or a long one, can help to counteract feelings of reclusiveness as it forces you to get out and explore the world. Although this may be quite challenging for someone with schizoid personality disorder, it can be very beneficial for them in the long run.
The place at which you will go to does not matter at all as the goal here is to try to form new behavior habits by doing the opposite of what you would normally want to do, which is to be reclusive. If you have not travelled much in your life, then you can start off slow by taking a multiple hour drive toward a new city or town. As you become more accustomed to taking road trips, you will then likely feel much more comfortable with taking longer trips.
Schizoid Personality Disorder and Nihilism
Nihilism is defined as the rejection of all religious and moral principles, as well as the belief that life itself is meaningless. Due to some notable symptoms of schizoid personality disorder, those suffering from this condition may appear to seem as though they themselves are nihilistic in nature due to the intense amount of indifference they feel toward most things, as well as their strong reclusive behaviors.
Although people suffering from schizoid personality disorder may feel apathetic toward most things and may significantly rather be alone as opposed to be near people, this is not indicative of nihilism, but rather it is them experiencing some of the main symptoms of this mental disorder.
People who suffer from depression will likely not be confused as being nihilistic, even though their symptoms may intimate otherwise. This is likely due to how common the disorder of depression is and how much awareness there is about it. Mental disorders such as anxiety, OCD, and depression are commonly discussed in the media, unlike disorders such as bipolar, schizophrenia, and sociopathy, which all have much darker stigmas attached to them.
Although someone suffering from schizoid personality disorder may in fact withhold convictions of nihilism, this would be due to reasons that are unassociated with their mental disorder as nihilism is a philosophy, not a symptom of any particular mental illness.
1) “Schizoid Personality Disorder.” Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/schizoid-personality-disorder
2) “Schizoid Personality Disorder.” Web MD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-schizoid-personality-disorder#1-3
3) Bressert, Steve. “Schizoid Personality Disorder Treatment.” Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/disorders/schizoid-personality-disorder-treatment/
4) “Schizoid Personality Disorder.” Web MD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-schizoid-personality-disorder#2-7
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