Personality change
Personality changes are alterations in the behavior, thinking and interactions of a person from their established character. These changes may...

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Definition

Personality change is a noticeable difference in the established structure of a person’s character. Personality changes usually occur in adults, but may occur in children.

Alternative Names

Change in personality.

Synopsis

Personality changes are alterations in the behavior, thinking and interactions of a person from their established character. These changes may be indicative of chemical dependencies, psychiatric illness, dementia, trauma, illness, altered body chemistry or temperature, or poisoning. Personality change should be taken seriously and reported to the primary care provider of the affected person. Personality changes may impair relationships with others at home, on the job, or result in legal difficulties.

Personality changes due to a medical condition are also called secondary personality disorders or organic personality syndrome. In these cases, the personality changes are due to disease that affects the brain and may herald a significant brain disease, such as dementia.

Associated Diagnoses

  • Brain tumor
  • Depression
  • Major depression
  • Seizure
  • Alcohol related disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Head injury
  • Epilepsy
  • Stroke
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Dementia
  • Delirium
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Poryphyria
  • Senile dementia
  • Pituitary cancer
  • Lead poisoning
  • Cerebral infarctions
  • AIDS
  • Neurosyphylis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency

Diagnosis and Treatment

A complete history and physical, examination and diagnostic studies by a physician are warranted for a diagnosis. Treatment will depend on symptoms and diagnosis. If the personality change puts the person or others at risk, legal guardianship or protective custody may be necessary.

Call your provider:

Any time personality changes are observed. They may be a sign of serious underlying illness and should be thoroughly evaluated.

Written by: JC Jones MA, RN
Reviewed by: Paul Auerbach, MD
Written: November 27, 2007
Last Updated: November 30, 2007
Published By: Healthline Networks Inc.
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