KayaWell Icon

Personality change

Personality change refers to a shift in the way you think, act or feel. It may be noticeable only to you, or it may be evident to people close to you.

Gradual personality changes can be normal as you age. It is also normal for you to have changing behaviors or feelings based on your mood, but these changes are temporary and can usually be attributed to a specific event. A sudden, undesired or uncontrollable change in your personality may be the sign of a serious condition.

Several mental illnesses can lead to personality changes. These include anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder, dementia, and schizophrenia. In the case of mental illness, personality changes may be the result of an interplay of factors, including heredity, environment and stress. These types of changes typically emerge before adolescence. Most mental illnesses are thought to result from imbalances in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) and are treated with medication and psychotherapy.

Sudden changes in personality can also result from brain damage or infection. Possible causes of brain damage include injury, stroke, infection and inflammation, among others.

Personality change may accompany other symptoms that result from an underlying mental illness including:

Engaging in harmful, hedonistic behaviors (binging)
Recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions)
Repeated, uncontrollable actions (compulsions)
Social isolation
Thoughts not based in reality (delusions)
Unreal sensations (hallucinations)
Unstable mood
Unwanted thoughts or feeling.
Personality change may be caused by many different mental illnesses including:
Anxiety disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder
Borderline personality disorder (condition characterized by unstable relationships)
Dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease)
Personality change