I have been diagnosed with both narcissistic and avoidant personality disorders. Is it possible to have both of these at the same time? If I do have both, what is the best way to combat these disorders?

A. It may be possible to have both disorders. I wonder if your therapist (or whoever diagnosed you) diagnosed you with both conditions or thought that you may have traits of those conditions. I would be interested to know how he or she came to his or her diagnosis.

If you are a regular reader of my column then you may know that I typically steer people away from focusing on a specific diagnosis (or set of diagnoses). In some cases pinpointing a specific diagnosis is important and can lead to the best possible treatments. I think in many cases, however, it’s better not to focus on diagnoses and better to focus on the therapy itself. It’s usually more beneficial to the client to focus on problem-solving, decreasing symptoms and overall improving their life.

With regard to specific treatments, what would work best for you would generally depend on the severity of your symptoms. If I had the opportunity to interview you I would inquire about your specific symptoms, how long you have been struggling with them and also trying to gauge how much they are negatively impacting your life. Knowing that information could help me to determine what the best treatment would be for you.

It can be difficult to treat personality disorders without the help of a trained mental health professional but a great place to start would be by educating yourself about them. Psychoeducation is very important in the treatment of mental health disorders.

Generally speaking, therapy with a competent and seasoned mental health professional is the best way to treat personality disorders. If you are willing to attend therapy then that is what I would suggest you do. If you would like to find a therapist in your community please search this therapist directory. Thank you for your question and I wish you the best of luck.