Cluster B personality disorders

Samir Kadri
Author: Samir Kadri Medical Reviewer: Morgan Blair Last updated:

Personality disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by long-term, sometimes lifelong, patterns of persistently harmful thoughts and behaviors. They are split into 3 categories based on the way sufferers present symptoms: Cluster A, Cluster B and Cluster C.

People with Cluster B personality disorders typically behave dramatically, erratically and with a high degree of emotional volatility. These disorders can be challenging to diagnose and treat, but with the right approach individuals can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. [1]

The following article will explore Cluster B personality disorders, the ways they differ from other personality disorders, their causes, how they are diagnosed and what treatment options are available.

What are Cluster B personality disorders?

Cluster B personality disorders are a group of personality disorders characterized by dramatic, emotional, and erratic behavior. Sufferers often struggle to form relationships with others, both personally and professionally. [1]

Everyday tasks and activities are more challenging for people with personality disorders, with impulse control and emotional regulation particularly problematic or people with Cluster B personality disorders. Below are four of the main Cluster B personality disorders:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): BPD is characterized by a long-term pattern of uncertainty and instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotions, as well as impulsive behavior and suicidal tendencies. People with BPD may experience intense fear of abandonment, engage in self-harming behaviors, and have a fragile sense of self. [2]
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD): People with NPD often harbor grandiose thoughts about their self-importance, a distinct lack of empathy for others and an unquenchable thirst for admiration. [3]
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD): People with HPD tend to be excessively emotional, attention-seeking, and have a strong desire to be the center of attention. Sufferers may exhibit sexually inappropriate tendencies. [4]
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD): Individuals with ASPD often exhibit a pattern of disregard for the rights of others, impulsivity, and a lack of empathy. They may engage in illegal activities, deceitful behavior, and show little remorse for their actions. This disorder is often associated with a history of conduct problems in childhood. [5]

How are Cluster B personality disorders different from other personality disorders?

Cluster B personality disorders are differentiated from Cluster A and Cluster C in the way their symptoms are presented. While Cluster B personality disorders are marked by dramatic, erratic, and emotionally volatile behavior, Cluster A personality disorders are known for the eccentric, unusual behavior sufferers exhibit. Cluster C personality disorders, however, are characterized by anxiety and fearfulness. [1]

What causes cluster B personality disorders?

The causes of cluster B personality disorders are not fully understood, but research suggests that genetic and environmental factors are both contributing factors

Research has shown that individuals with a family history of mental health conditions or personality disorders are more likely to develop a personality disorder themselves. Childhood experiences, such as abuse or neglect, can also increase the risk of developing a personality disorder [6].

How are cluster B personality disorders diagnosed?

Cluster B personality disorders are diagnosed by mental health professionals following a thorough assessment of a patient. The first step for most people is making an appointment with their doctor, with the aim of being referred to the appropriate mental health professional – typically a psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist.

You may be asked to participate in a clinical interview, provide a detailed medical history and discuss your symptoms. The clinician may also use standardized tests and questionnaires to aid in the diagnosis of a personality disorder.

The latest edition Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) outlines the eligibility criteria for Cluster B personality disorders. This is what the mental health professional will assess your symptoms against.

It’s important to differentiate between different personality disorders and other mental health conditions that may have overlapping symptoms. Mental health professionals will consider other possible mental health conditions, before providing you with a definitive diagnosis. [1]

How are cluster B personality disorders treated?

Once a diagnosis is made, the mental health professional can work with the individual to develop an appropriate treatment plan, which may include psychotherapy, medication, or other interventions tailored to the specific personality disorder and its impact on the individual’s life.

Below are the primary treatment options used to treat Cluster B personality disorders.


Therapeutic intervention is the frontline treatment for personality disorders. The primary aim of therapy for Cluster B personality disorders is to help the patient manage their symptoms, improve the way they socially interact with others and live a better quality of life. Different therapeutic approaches include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT can be adapted to address various Cluster B disorders, targeting maladaptive thought patterns and behaviors. It helps individuals identify and change harmful thought patterns and develop healthier coping strategies.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT – an offshoot of CBT – is especially beneficial for borderline personality disorder (BPD). It focuses on emotion regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness to help individuals manage intense emotions and impulsive behaviors.
  • Psychodynamic therapy: Patients identify and explore the underlying cause of their personality disorders, emphasizing insight into unconscious conflicts and relationship patterns.[1][7]


While no medication has been approved specifically for the treatment of cluster B personality disorders, certain medications may be used to manage comorbid conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or impulsivity.

The type of medication prescribed will depend on the patient’s symptoms and may include antidepressants, antipsychotics, or mood stabilizers. Do not take start any course of medication without it being prescribed by a doctor. [7]


Self-care can be extremely beneficial for individuals with Cluster B personality disorders, enabling them to be the best version of themselves to combat the symptoms of their condition. Strategies include [8]:

  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and exercise regime – Prioritize physical health through regular exercise, a balanced diet, and a solid sleep schedule. Physical well-being can have a positive impact on emotional stability.
  • Emotion regulation – Learn and practice emotion regulation techniques, such as mindfulness meditation and deep breathing exercises, to manage intense and unstable emotions.
  • Build a solid support network – Build a strong support system of friends and loved ones who understand your challenges and can provide emotional support.

Final thoughts

The road to managing your symptoms can be difficult and can take time, but through dedication to a treatment plan and a solid support network, you can get on top of your Cluster B personality disorder.

Listen to feedback from friends, family and colleagues and consult a doctor as soon as you suspect you may have a personality disorder. They will set you on your way towards a better quality of life.

  1. Overview of Personality Disorders – Psychiatric Disorders. (n.d.). MSD Manual Professional Edition.
  2. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) – Psychiatric Disorders. (n.d.). MSD Manual Professional Edition.
  3. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) – Psychiatric Disorders. (n.d.). MSD Manual Professional Edition.
  4. Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) – Psychiatric Disorders. (n.d.). MSD Manual Professional Edition.
  5. Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) – Psychiatric Disorders. (n.d.). MSD Manual Professional Edition.
  6. American Psychological Association. (2010). What causes personality disorders?
  7. Treatment. (2020, January).
  8. Self-care for personality disorders. (n.d.).
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Samir Kadri
Author Samir Kadri Writer

Samir Kadri is a medical writer with a non-profit sector background, committed to raising awareness about mental health.

Published: Sep 26th 2023, Last edited: Oct 26th 2023

Morgan Blair
Medical Reviewer Morgan Blair MA, LPCC

Morgan Blair is a licensed therapist, writer and medical reviewer, holding a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Northwestern University.

Content reviewed by a medical professional. Last reviewed: Sep 26th 2023