An Adult’s Guide to Coping with Abrupt Personality Changes

An Adult’s Guide to Coping with Abrupt Personality Changes

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Last Updated on March 31, 2021 by Content

Psychologists have deduced from the observation of people over time that one’s behavior is set at a young age. However, it is often seen that an adult can undergo an abrupt alteration in personality despite having formed a fully developed mindset from childhood. It is common in adulthood to once in a while experience mood swings due to work stress, hormonal changes, loss of a loved one, fear of a coming economic crisis, and other external factors. This change can occur for a number of reasons, and it will be more easily noticeable by work colleagues and family members as you get to interact with them irrespective of how you feel from time to time. It becomes an issue when it becomes consistent and is a deviation from how the individual used to behave.

A personality change is an alteration in how one used to think, feel, and behave. Usually, an external stimulus brings about this turnaround. It presents a number of challenges to both the affected individual and others around them. People who undergo personality changes tend to present with a range of symptoms such as sudden development of violent tendencies, confusion, depression, delusion, paranoia, unwillingness to interact with relatives and friends, and apathy towards activities they used to enjoy. There is a need to gain additional knowledge in order to be able to manage it properly and hopefully experience a remission.

A Psychological Perspective

As you grow older, your personality is in a state of flux. All of your accomplishments, challenges you had to surmount along the way, and the lessons you accrue as you journey through life all play a role in affecting your personality. This is not necessarily a function of chronological age but has a lot to with the assumption of responsibilities and when certain developmental milestones are reached.

Five personality traits have been put forward as broad groupings for the range of personalities people assume. They are a spectrum, and as such, people can exhibit them to a high degree while others would do so to a low extent. Also, a particular individual may experience all of these traits to some degree per time. However, each individual is usually skewed to one or two personality traits.

They are Outlined Below:

  1. Openness: This personality trait consists of individuals who have this inner longing and crave to explore and discover. They are not satisfied with the status quo. They believe there can be more. It is no wonder they are resourceful individuals who can get things done. Their curiosity often results in them not focusing on a single idea or concept. Rather, they explore multiple ideas as long as it catches their fancy. 
  2. Conscientiousness: A marked quality of people high in this trait is an acute awareness of themselves and others. Their actions are first conjectured in their thoughts before being acted out. They have a genuine interest in others, which makes them concerned with how actions they take affect them. To achieve this, it requires them to take note of specific details and come up with strategies that allow them to meet set deadlines. 
  3. Extraversion/Extroversion: Individuals exhibiting this trait can easily interact with others in social circles. They are the outgoing type of people. They seem to possess the boundless amounts of energy, which they use in sustaining conversations and winning the hearts of others. Also, they find a way to express their emotions to the latter. In the process of initiating and maintaining conversations, they often go out of line as they don’t give much thought to what they say. This behavior is in contrast with the conscientious personality, who place much thought behind their actions. 
  4. Agreeableness: Here, individuals are more given to seeking ways by which they can get along with people from a genuine perspective. They are given to helping and proffering solutions to challenges others face, sometimes even at their own expense. As much as possible, they are willing to avoid confrontations with others. They have a very good team spirit. 
  5. Neuroticism: This dimension is synonymous with depression and anxiety. People exhibiting this trait suffer oscillating mood states, get easily irritated, and are overly anxious about situations. They are pessimistic about life generally. They also tend to crumble in the face of stressors. 

There is a genetic and an environmental basis to the kind of personality traits individuals exhibit. One’s upbringing as a child can be responsible for the personality that the adult eventually possesses. Children tend to observe and mimic the behavior of parents as well. Also, it is necessary to highlight that behavior is a product of both personality traits and specific situations. Some behavior will only be exhibited in a certain context. For example, people who under normal conditions exhibit Neuroticism may become extroverted when in the presence of family members or friends. However, personality traits largely get to determine behavior.  

How do Changes in Personality Come About?

In trying to solve a problem, the first step is to identify the cause. Once the cause is known, strategies can then be developed around it to help mitigate its effect. With personality changes, this is the best step to take as well. So, outlined below are common reasons why an abrupt change in one’s personality may occur.

  1. Medical Reasons: There are a number of medical conditions that bring about behavioral changes. Examples include Cerebrovascular accident (Stroke), Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, concussion, dementia, menopause, injury leading to damage of the brain’s frontal lobe, and brain tumor. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of some of these conditions can help slow their progression rate, as is the case with Alzheimer’s disease. Menopausal women also experience personality changes due to a reduction in estrogen production. They become more irritable, anxious, angry, and experience panic attacks. In Parkinson’s disease, these individuals have altered sleep patterns, become disinterested and withdrawn.
  2. Psychiatric Disorders: There is a wide spectrum of psychiatric conditions with a variety of symptoms ranging from depression to mania. These individuals can oscillate between aggressive behaviors and apathy. The imbalances due to chemical compounds in the brain can also bring about modifications to their sexual appetite, sleep, and eating habits. Examples of psychiatric illnesses include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), mental illness, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and bipolar disorder.
  3. Drug Abuse: Consumption of harmful will overtime alter an individual perception of reality and cause them to behave violently, engage in risky sexual habits, and lose touch with family and friends. It is a common cause of personality changes in adults. Alcohol abuse has been shown to cause changes in the neuronal wiring of addicts, leading to alterations in their personality. These individuals are incapable of coherent communication, and their sense of judgment is severely impaired. Drug abuse can also lead to psychiatric disorders, as seen with marijuana and heroin.
  4. Side effects of Medications: Some drugs prescribed for certain conditions can also result in behavioral changes in patients. Prolonged use of corticosteroids such as dexamethasone can lead to psychiatric-like symptoms in patients, such as confusion and delusion. Chemotherapy in cancer patients also plays a role in affecting their mood. Other medications such as antidepressants, anxiolytics, and antihistamines can also affect the mood to varying degrees.

How do you know When to Seek Help?

There are pointers to watch out for before seeking medical help. When all of a sudden, you notice a colleague constantly snaps at others at the workplace, or your spouse is no longer as open as they used to be.

These abrupt behavioral modifications are often a pointer that is a much more profound issue that has not been dealt with. This is especially true when this behavior becomes consistent over time.

Another warning sign is the occurrence of a head injury that was not properly attended to. We know that damage to the frontal lobe can result in personality changes. On the strenghth of this information, it becomes necessary to book an appointment with the doctor for a proper assessment.

Psychiatric conditions usually involve an inability to control one’s action, and such individuals are a threat to not only themselves but others as well. They may either physically harm themselves or threaten to do so. An appointment at the nearest psychiatric facility will be necessary to first calm them down and later on begin actual treatment of the condition. This behavior is also similar for patients who abuse medications.

Management of Personality Changes

The best approach is to combine drug therapy with different psychotherapy strategies specifically suited to specific patients.

For medical conditions such as Stroke, prompt and effective treatment at the early stages may lead to a full recovery of the individual and restore normal behavior and function. However, this may not be the situation in some other instances. Also, drug therapy and counseling may be necessary. When the degree of disease progression cannot be remedied with medication, symptomatic treatment is carried out to manage the situation.

The elderly may also experience behavioral modifications such as age-induced loss of memory and irritability. A holistic approach is also necessary with them to yield the best result. 

Guide to Seeking Prompt Assistance

Now that you have learned about personality changes when you observe people around you undergo a rapid alteration in their behavior, it is advisable to learn more about the change. Professionals in that field are available to assist with this.
Contact the number 615-490-9376 to assist with around-the-clock information on dealing with behavioral changes from experts. It is courtesy of Foundations Recovery Network.

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