I was wondering if it would be possible to let me know if i could have a personality disorder? I am 15 years old and a girl. Sometimes i have weeks where i will cry everyday, become angry and sometimes to the extent of hurting myself. Then i’ll have days where i am happy and it seems like everything is fine. I am very sensitive to critism, and even the smallest of things can upset me. I am a very shy person because i get very anxious, nervous and my heart will start beating really fast when talking to people i hardly know or dont know at all, which has recently become a problem and has affected school assignments where we have to do oral presentations. I have trouble staying focused sometimes.

A. While it is difficult to accurately give a diagnosis over the Internet, based on the information that you have provided, you do not seem to meet the criteria for a personality disorder. Sometimes individuals experience symptoms without matching a specific diagnosis. In other words, sometimes people have problems that do not fit a particular label. I think there are a number of issues that you are struggling with, including having difficulty managing your emotions, maladaptive coping skills, low self-esteem and anxiety. The good news is that all of these issues are curable and help is available.

It was very wise of you to write to us to help determine if you have a problem. Now that we have identified a few possible issues the next important step is to speak to your parents. Your parents may be able to assist you in getting help with your problems. You want to speak to your parents sooner rather than later before your issues become overwhelming and less manageable. You need to let your parents know that there is a problem. They can’t help you if they don’t know a problem exists. If you are unwilling to speak your parents, then you need to speak to a guidance counselor, teacher, clergyman or whomever you feel comfortable sharing information with.

In the meantime, plan ahead. For instance, we have identified the fact that you have difficulty managing your emotions. Put a plan in place for what to do when you become emotionally overwhelmed. Your plan should include identifying concrete strategies to manage or to remove yourself from difficult situations. My suggestions include:

  • calling a friend
  • screaming into a pillow
  • engaging in vigorous exercise
  • watching television
  • reading a book
  • listening to upbeat music
  • doing physical labor
  • petting your dog or cat
  • going for a walk
  • writing in a journal
  • viewing a funny movie

The idea is that you want to distract yourself from the emotionally charged situation as a way to prevent yourself from engaging in the maladaptive self-harm behavior. These methods might help temporarily until you are able to seek counseling.

With regard to giving oral presentations, public speaking is the number one fear among the majority of people. You are not alone. The fear of public speaking is not a reason to think that there is something wrong. In fact, if you were not afraid of public speaking you would be in the minority. Learning to be comfortable as a public speaker is a process. It can take time to decrease or eliminate your fear but it is very possible. Please consider reading the answers I have written previously with regard to public speaking and how to decrease the anxiety it produces.

I hope this answer helps. Please take care. I wish you well.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Feb 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Crying Everyday, Sensitive to Criticism: Personality Disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/02/20/crying-everyday-sensitive-to-criticism-personality-disorder/