This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Michael Phelan (MBBS, BSc, FRCPsych), based at Priory Hospital Roehampton, in January 2021.
What is a personality disorder?
Personality disorders are complex mental health conditions that affect multiple areas of a person’s life, including behaviour, thoughts, and feelings, on a daily basis. They can also affect how you understand and relate to other people, as well as your general health and wellbeing.
There are many personality disorders types and they can range from being mild and relatively manageable, to having a severe and enduring impact on an individual’s ability to function.
What are the 10 types of personality disorders?
There are 10 recognised types of personality disorder. It’s likely that the symptoms you experience will vary depending on the specific type of personality disorder you are struggling with. Symptoms will also vary from person to person.
The 10 types are:
- Dependent personality disorder
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Schizoid personality disorder
- Schizotypal personality disorder
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD)
- Histrionic personality disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)
- Emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), also known as borderline personality disorder (BPD)
- Impulsive personality disorder (a subtype of BPD)
Managing a personality disorder can be incredibly difficult without the right support and treatment. To get the correct care, you need to get a diagnosis for your personality disorder so that the right treatment plans can be put into place.
To get a diagnosis, there are a few things you need to do.
- Talk your GP and tell them all of the symptoms you are experiencing
- Get a GP referral to a personality disorder specialist for an assessment
- Discuss treatment options with a specialist after your diagnosis
What are personality clusters?
Different types of personality disorders have different symptoms. For example, it is very unlikely that someone with borderline personality disorder would experience the same symptoms as someone with paranoid personality disorder.
To help us understand some of the symptoms and characteristics a little better, personality disorders can be categorised into three different clusters.
Cluster A – includes personality disorders that are characterised by unconventional behaviour. This group includes paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder.
Cluster B - groups together disorders with dramatic and unpredictable symptoms. This group includes antisocial personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. Borderline personality disorder, also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder, and impulsive personality disorder also fit into cluster B.
Cluster C – a grouping that includes disorders where people typically experience fearful and anxious symptoms. This group includes avoidant personality disorder, obsessive compulsive personality disorder and dependent personality disorder.
When you visit your GP or specialist for a personality disorder assessment, they will be able to explain each cluster in more detail to you and where you may fit in.
Identifying personality disorders
Paranoid personality disorder
Characterised by a difficulty in trusting others and believing they will take advantage of you in some way. If you have paranoid personality disorder, you may interpret danger in everyday situations which other people don’t observe, and you will always be watching other people closely in case they become hostile.
Schizoid personality disorder
You may feel that relationships get in the way of your day-to-day life, and that other people will only cause you problems. This means you tend to have an ongoing disinterest in forming relationships, even with other family members. It can be difficult to experience pleasure from everyday life, with little interest in emotional connection or intimacy.
Schizotypal personality disorder
Often compounded by eccentric behaviour, finding and making close relationships is often incredibly difficult. You may use words and phrases which other people find unusual, while delusional thoughts and beliefs, such as believing you have special powers, can lead you to feeling anxious or tense when others don’t share these ideas.
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)
People with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) may behave dangerously and sometimes illegally, and generally act in ways that are unpleasant to others. You may already have a criminal record and feel little or no sense of guilt when mistreating or upsetting other people.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
Also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), you will often experience intense emotions which can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. Fluctuations will vary between the extremes of happiness and self-belief to feeling low, often in the same day. You may find it hard to maintain stable relationships, while suicidal thoughts and self-harming behaviour can also be experienced.
Impulsive personality disorder
This is a subtype of BPD, and is very different from other types of the disorder in that you will appear charismatic to others. Enjoying being at the centre of attention, you may be adventurous to the point of engaging in dangerous activity, although meaningful connections with others can be difficult to come by.
Histrionic personality disorder
Similar to impulsive personality disorder, with histrionic personality disorder you might feel uncomfortable not being centre of attention at social events or in the workplace. You may have an overwhelming urge to entertain people regularly, and can be easily emotionally influenced by other people and their opinions towards you.
Narcissistic personality disorder
If you struggle with narcissistic personality disorder, you may appear selfish and regularly put your needs above others. You believe that there are unique reasons that make you different or better than other people, although you have a delicate self-esteem which is built upon others’ recognition of your value and attributes.
Obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD)
You feel the need to keep everything in order and be in control of your surroundings, which can make you have high expectations of yourself and other people in work and other ability focused settings. You will think that awful things are about to happen if something doesn’t go your way, while you will dwell on the mistakes of yourself and others.
Avoidant personality disorder
Also known as anxious personality disorder, with avoidant personality disorder you will tend to avoid situations where you have to spend a significant amount of time with others, such as at work or social gatherings. You will feel overly sensitive to disapproval and will constantly worry about being rejected in social settings. You may feel inferior to others, and avoid developing relationships for fear that you may be ridiculed or rejected.
Dependent personality disorder
You are dependent on others to make decisions in your daily life, and will often let others take responsibility for you in many areas. You may have low self-confidence and appear submissive or passive to others. In work meetings for example, you will agree to things even if you dislike a thought or opinion so that you don’t lose the support of others.
What to do if you suspect you have a personality disorder
If you suspect you have a personality disorder, you need to visit your GP or another type of medical professional. They will be able to talk you through any symptoms you may be experiencing and provide a general observation from your initial meeting.
Once you have had your first meeting, you will be able to get clear answers as to whether you do have a personality disorder as well as what kind of disorder you may have.
It’s important to understand that having a personality disorder does not make a person untreatable and that different treatments are available depending on the type of personality disorder.
Treatment for personality disorders at Priory aims to reduce the impact of the condition on your life and there are several psychotherapies can help to achieve this. Medication can also be helpful in dealing with distressing symptoms. Depending on the severity of a personality disorder and how far along the treatment process you are, our expert teams are able to offer residential, day care, inpatient and outpatient based treatment for personality disorders.
Get in Touch Today
For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding mental health and wellbeing, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to submit an enquiry form. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here
Call our Enquiry Line
For more information about the mental health services that Priory offer, download our brochure.Get our brochure