Antisocial Personality Disorder (cont.)

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How is antisocial personality disorder diagnosed?

There is no specific definitive test, such as a blood test, that can accurately assess whether a person has antisocial personality disorder. Practitioners conduct a mental-health interview that gathers information to look for the presence of the symptoms previously described. Due to the use of a mental-health interview in making the diagnosis and the fact that this disorder can be quite resistant to treatment, it is important that the mental-health professional know to assess the symptoms in the context of the individual's culture so the person is not assessed as having antisocial personality disorder when he or she does not. Unfortunately, research shows that many practitioners lack the knowledge, experience, and sometimes the willingness to factor cultural context into their assessments.

What are the treatments for antisocial personality disorder?

Another very common question asked is, can antisocial personality disorder be cured? While it can be quite resistant to change, research shows there are a number of effective treatments for this disorder. For example, teenagers who receive therapy that helps them change the thinking that leads to their maladaptive behavior (cognitive behavioral therapy) have been found to experience a significant decrease the incidence of engaging in repeat antisocial behaviors.

On the other hand, attempting to treat antisocial personality disorder like other conditions is not often effective. For example, programs that have tried to use a purely reflective (insight-oriented) approach to treating depression or eating disorders in people with antisocial personality disorder often worsen rather than improve outcomes in those individuals. In those cases, a combination of firm but fair programming that emphasizes teaching individuals with antisocial personality disorder the skills that can be used to live independently and productively within the rules and limits of society has been the more effective treatment for this condition.

While medications do not directly treat the behaviors that characterize antisocial personality disorder, they can be useful in addressing conditions that co-occur with this condition. Specifically, depressed or anxious individuals who also have antisocial personality disorder may benefit from antidepressants, and those who exhibit impulsive anger may improve when given mood stabilizers.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/9/2012

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