What Can Cause Sudden Personality Changes?

Sudden personality changes can be disturbing and even frightening to people who witness the change, and to the person who has undergone the personality change as well. In nearly all instances, there is some outside factor involved. These factors can be health-related or due to medication or other substances the person might be using. In any event, sudden personality change is an indicator that calls for immediate attention.

Symptoms of Sudden Personality Change

Sudden personality changes are accompanied by a number of related symptoms. These symptoms include confusion, delusional beliefs even when presented with contrary evidence, violent behavior (with no previous history), withdrawal from family and friends, paranoid beliefs or behavior, and general acting out, including radical changes in lifestyle.

Medical Causes

Vitamin B12 & Seizures

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Sudden personality change can be a symptom of a medical disorder, such as a stroke, the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, AIDS or other disorders. It is important to rule out medical causes as quickly as possible. In the case of a stroke, early treatment can mean the difference between nearly full recovery and severe debilitation. For other disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and AIDS, early treatment can slow the progression of the disease.

Medication Side Effects

All medications have risks of side effects, with some side effects being severe. If a person has been prescribed with steroids, he could be subject to wild mood swings, sometimes known as "roid rage." Other medications can cause side effects which could manifest themselves as sudden personality change. Again, it is wise to seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

Substance Abuse

Causes of Emotional Immaturity

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In some instances, sudden personality change is the result of substance abuse. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can cause both acute and chronic side effects, including personality change. Other drugs can also cause severe side effects when abused, some of which may be permanent. In the absence of medical causes, substance abuse must be seriously considered as a possible cause of sudden personality change.

Other causes

Other causes of sudden personality change can be a reaction to an especially traumatic event which may result in severe depression. A brain tumor or head injury can also cause sudden personality change. Any head injury should be taken seriously, because damage might not be evident on the surface. It is also possible that the extent of the head injury may not be evident without examination until the damage has become severe.