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Personality disorder treatment

Your personality defines how you think, feel and behave in everyday life, combining to form who you are as a person.

Throughout many social situations over a period of time, you will show certain traits of your personality which are in keeping with how you tend to act, although for people with a personality disorder, this can be more problematic.

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Treatment for personality disorders at Priory aims to reduce the impact of the condition on your life. Our nationwide UK hospitals and wellbeing centres are able to offer tailored treatment programmes based on your personal situation and recovery goals, with specialist therapists and consultants working with you throughout using effective, evidence-based treatments such as talking therapies in order to reduce the impact of a personality disorder on your everyday life.

If you are living with a personality disorder, patterns in your thinking in relation to yourself and those around you can cause significant distress, and can negatively affect your mental health and wellbeing. Changing these can be very helpful and relieve a lot of distress.

It's important to understand that having a personality disorder does not make a person untreatable. There are several psychotherapies which are very helpful. Medication can also be helpful in dealing with distressing symptoms.

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Co-occurring conditions and different types of personality disorders

Having a personality disorder does not mean that you do not have another psychiatric diagnosis. Those with personality disorders are predisposed to developing depression, anxiety, alcohol and substance misuse. Treating personality disorders makes managing these other disorders much easier.

There are currently 10 known types of personality disorder, with each of these believed to fit into the broad categories of suspicious, emotional and impulsive or anxious. If you have a personality disorder of any kind, there will be signs and symptoms that may differ from other personality disorders. While certain treatments will be more effective on some personality disorders more than others, fundamental differences in beliefs and ways of managing life situations in comparison to people without a personality disorder remains.

Diagnosing a personality disorder

While being diagnosed with a personality disorder remains controversial, due to the personal nature of the mental health condition, it can help to think of the diagnosis as a tool which helps mental health professionals decide what will be the most effective method of treatment and support to help manage the disorder.

There is a misguided belief, that personality disorders cannot be treated. In fact they respond very well to treatment and over 50% of those diagnosed with personality disorders recover within five years.

What causes of a personality disorders?

While it isn’t currently clear what causes a personality disorder to develop, it is thought that a combination of genetics and environmental factors during your childhood can play a role in the likelihood of being diagnosed with a type of personality disorder. Childhood trauma is an important factor for many people.

The unique nature of all our personalities and the complexity involved in forming what makes us who we are is the reason why there are so many different types of personality disorder, with each type accounting for varying aspects of your personality and how they may adversely affect your life in certain ways.

Because personality is mostly formed during childhood, including the way you observe the world around you and relate to others, the following experiences as a young person may trigger a personality disorder if you are already genetically pre-disposed:

  • A chaotic family life such as living with family members who struggle with substance abuse or mental health problems
  • A poor support network either from your caregiver, peers, or wider community, particularly when you are of school age
  • Losing a parent or experiencing a traumatic event such as a car accident
  • Verbal, physical or sexual abuse

These circumstances do not always lead to the development of a personality disorder, as the way you react and are supported during these difficult periods of your life which determines how much it affects your mental health and wellbeing as an adult.

This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Leon Rozewicz (MBBS, FRCPsych, MRCGP, MRCPsych) in June 2020, and is scheduled to be reviewed again in June 2022. To view all Priory personality disorder specialists, please click here.

Treatment for personality disorders at Priory
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What is a personality disorder?
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Signs and symptoms of a personality disorder
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