Personality disorder
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Personality disorder

 Content Editor

What is personality disorder?
Personality disorder is a diagnosis given to someone who experiences a certain set of difficulties that affect the way they think, perceive, feel and relate to themselves and others.

If someone has personality disorder, often the way they cope is different and more extreme compared with other people. They will often have problems keeping and forming healthy relationships. Someone with these types of difficulties may find their emotions confusing, exhausting and hard to control, which can be distressing for them and for others around them.

There are many different symptoms associated with a personality disorder. Sometimes, people avoid relationships, experience paranoia and have what others can perceive are unusual beliefs. Others can be grandiose, feel they need to be the centre of attention or find it difficult to follow rules; whilst others can be rule-bound and paralysed with perfectionism. Below is a list of difficulties commonly linked to symptoms. If somebody has several of these symptoms they may have problems consistent with a personality disorder.
  • difficulty making and keeping friends
  • describes themselves as a loner
  • difficulty trusting other people
  • easily loses their temper
  • can be an impulsive sort of person
  • a constant worrier
  • in general, can depend on others a lot
  • in general, can be a perfectionist
Everybody can have some of the above symptoms, however, to meet the diagnosis their symptoms need to be:
  • problematic for them or others
  • pervasive and affect all parts of the their or others' lives (eg family, home, work, friends)
  • persistent – problems have been with them since early adulthood
Because it can be very distressing, someone with the difficulties associated with personality disorder may develop other mental health problems such as depression or anxiety and they may seek other ways of coping such as drinking heavily, using drugs or self-harming.

Personality disorders are common mental health problems. In England, it is estimated that around 1 in 20 people meets criteria for a diagnosis of personality disorder.
How do you get help to treat or manage a personality disorder?
People with personality disorder can get help from several sources. Often, the first line of help and treatment is to address the acute symptoms. These are symptoms like depression or anxiety. These symptoms can often be addressed by their GP or psychological therapies.
Sometimes, people need specialised help to address their long-standing difficulties (symptoms or behaviours that led them to meet the diagnosis for personality disorder). All our secondary care recovery teams (community mental health services) have specialist programmes to help with these long-standing difficulties. The programmes can be intensive and often require group and individual therapy delivered in the community. 

We also provide intensive training, education and support for carers of people with a personality disorder.

For more information about how we can help, make an appointment to see your GP. They will be happy to work with you to help you to manage mild to moderate symptoms of mental ill-health outside of secondary services.
It might be that you do need more specialised support. If so, your GP can make a referral to our assessment teams on your behalf in the boroughs of Halton, Knowsley, Warrington and St Helens.

If you feel you are in mental health crisis, visit our help in a crisis page for advice and support.
For information about training provided by our Trust, view our training brochure: Centre of Expertise in Personality Disorder online training prospectus
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