Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by violating the rights of others. Many times people with this particular personality disorder will engage in criminal activities. Some of the most notorious criminals in history have shown symptoms of antisocial personality disorder. The exact causes are unknown, although likely linked to environmental and genetic factors.

Antisocial Personality Disorder FAQs

To find answers to questions you may have about this personality disorder, explore the below antisocial personality disorder FAQs.

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is typically diagnosed once someone who presents symptoms associated with ASPD reaches the age of 18. Clinicians believe that brains don’t fully develop before the age of 18 and even though someone may produce symptoms of ASPD, symptoms of ASPD could also be typical adolescent behavior.

When someone is diagnosed with ASPD, it is usually a lifelong disorder. While someone living with ASPD can experience symptoms and behaviors of ASPD for their entire life, these behaviors can be managed through treatment and coping mechanisms. Treatment for antisocial personality disorder will most likely involve cognitive behavior therapy. Additionally, treatment providers may use group or family therapy in a patient’s treatment plan.

There are currently no specific medications prescribed for ASPD, treatment providers may choose to prescribe medications for aggression and psychotic symptoms. Treatment should be consistent and long-term to improve the symptoms and behaviors associated with ASPD.

No. ASPD is a personality disorder. Personality disorders are classified into three clusters: A, B and C. Each cluster is associated with varying characteristics of personality disorders. Antisocial personality disorder is grouped into cluster B, which is associated with dramatic, impulsive and emotionally dysregulated behavior.

Depression is classified as a mood or depressive disorder. While both ASPD and depression are difficult to live with and can disrupt someone’s life, the two disorders are different. ASPD symptoms that are most prevalent include long-term patterns of disregard for right and wrong, violation of other’s rights, aggressiveness, impulsiveness and arrogance. People living with ASPD are often involved in criminal activity and have difficulty holding a job or taking orders from authoritative figures.

People living with depression often experience the opposite. Some symptoms of a depressive disorder include lack of energy, feelings of sadness and frequent or recurrent suicidal thoughts.

So while ASPD and depression aren’t the same disorder or in the same classification of disorders, someone with ASPD can have a co-occurring depressive disorder caused by the frustrations and distress of their ASPD symptoms. Additionally, someone with antisocial personality disorder can also develop a substance use disorder as a result of unhealthy coping mechanisms.

No. A psychotic disorder is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition(DSM-5), by abnormalities in one or more of five domains: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking, grossly disorganized or abnormal motor behavior and negative symptoms.

ASPD is a personality disorder that is characterized by a pattern of behavior involving disregard for and violation of the rights of other people and usually becomes present in childhood and early adolescence. While a particular event or trauma may trigger the onset of a psychotic disorder, symptoms of ASPD may be present but not diagnosed until someone exhibiting ASPD behavior is 18 years old.

Psychotic disorders do not include ASPD. However, someone with ASPD may develop a co-occurring condition like psychosis. Psychosis can also be induced by certain drugs, which may be used by someone with ASPD as an unhealthy way to cope. Drug use as a coping mechanism can develop into an addiction.

Yes. Personality disorders like ASPD are on a spectrum. A spectrum of ASPD can range in severity from occasionally aggressive or violent behavior to repeatedly breaking the law and being involved in criminal activity.

Criminal behavior is a dominant feature of ASPD and is on the more severe end of the spectrum. It’s not uncommon for someone with the disorder to commit crimes and be imprisoned if they have a more serious case of ASPD. Also on the severe end of the spectrum could be someone who has difficulty keeping a job — due to having difficulty following directions from authoritative figures — and risks homelessness.

The most severe symptoms of ASPD may not appear until someone is in their late teens and early 20s, but with treatment these symptoms are manageable and someone living with ASPD can learn coping mechanisms. The severity of symptoms typically improves by the age of 40.

The development of ASPD is usually attributed to someone’s genetics, physical development and the environment. Because the exact cause of ASPD isn’t established, researchers continue to conduct studies looking for a more definitive cause to better understand the disorder and how to treat it.

Researchers found that people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are more likely to develop co-occurring mental health conditions like personality disorders. A few studies examining the relationship between PTSD and ASPD found that people with PTSD have a higher chance of developing ASPD than people who don’t have PTSD. The symptoms of both disorders could overlap and cause someone living with PTSD and ASPD additional distress.

Conversely, someone living with ASPD experiences impulsiveness as a symptom of their disorder and this behavior could cause them to be involved in a traumatic event. Experiencing trauma or being involved with a traumatic event often contributes to the development of PTSD and similar disorders.

If you or someone you know struggles with substance use or co-occurring disorder like ASPD, help is available. At The Recovery Village, a staff of professionals provides several treatment programs for substance use and co-occurring disorders. Call and speak with a representative to learn more about which treatment program could work for you.