A person with a personality disorder thinks, feels, behaves or relates to others very differently from the average person. There are several different types of personality disorder. This page gives some information about personality disorders in general, linking to other sources for more detail.
Symptoms of a personality disorder
Symptoms vary depending on the type of personality disorder.
A person with borderline personality disorder tends to have:
- disturbed ways of thinking
- impulsive behaviour
- problems controlling their emotions
- intense but unstable relationships and worry about people abandoning them
A person with antisocial personality disorder will typically:
- get easily frustrated
- have difficulty controlling their anger
- blame other people for problems in their life
- be aggressive and violent, upsetting others with their behaviour
You can also read about the other types of personality disorder on the Royal College of Psychiatrists website.
Someone with a personality disorder may also have other mental health problems, such as:
- substance abuse
Treatment for a personality disorder
Treatment for a personality disorder usually involves a talking therapy. This is where the person talks to a therapist to get a better understanding of their own thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
The length of time in therapy will depend upon the severity of the condition and other problems the person may have.
As well as listening and discussing important issues with the person, the therapist may identify strategies to resolve problems and, if necessary, help them change their attitudes and behaviour.
Therapeutic communities (TCs) are an intensive form of group therapy in which the experience of having a personality disorder is explored in depth.
TCs have been shown to be effective for mild to moderate personality disorders, but require a high level of commitment.
Medication may be prescribed to treat problems associated with a personality disorder, such as:
For example, moderate to severe symptoms of depression might be treated with a type of antidepressant.
Many people with a personality disorder recover over time. Psychological or medical treatment is often helpful, but support is sometimes all that's needed.
There's no single approach that suits everyone – treatment should be tailored to the individual.
It's not clear exactly what causes personality disorders, but they're thought to result from a combination of the genes a person inherits and early environmental influences – for example, a distressing childhood experience (such as abuse or neglect).
Support for people living with a personality disorder
Having a personality disorder can have a big effect on the person's life, as well as their family and friends, but support is available.
Ask your GP about support groups for personality disorders near you. You should also check what mental health services are currently available within your health and social care trust.
- Belfast Health and Social Care Trust - mental health
- Northern Health and social Care Trust – mental health
- Western Health and Social Care Trust – mental health
- South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust - mental health
- Southern Health and Social Care Trust - mental health
More useful links
The information on this page has been adapted from original content from the NHS website.
For further information see terms and conditions.