Personality disorder

Written by Nicola Dalrymple

Understanding personality disorders

Personality disorders are clinically diagnosed mental health disorders yet they often hold a lot of stigma and even more confusion. It is evident that the disorder isn’t discussed enough and is unfortunately misunderstood by so many. It is a mental health disorder which imposes serious burden on those suffering and those who surround them.

So what is personality disorder?

Essentially, a person with a personality disorder, thinks, feels and acts differently to other people.

What are the different types of personality disorder?

Personality disorders can take many forms including antisocial personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and obsessive compulsive personality disorder. Many patients may in fact meet the criteria for several different types of personality disorder. It is important to highlight that people with the same disorder may have very different symptoms to each other due to their individual experiences. While there are several types of personality disorders, borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of the most common.

What are the symptoms of BPD?

Impulsivity and mood regulation difficulties are two core factors which effect those with BPD. Some of the more serious clinical features include impulsive aggression, repeated self-injury and suicidal tendencies making those suffering extremely vulnerable and in need of mental health service support.

Moreover, personality disorders such as BPD predict a range of negative outcomes across the lifespan including increased risk of mental disorders such as anxiety, eating disorders and depression. They also enhance the risk of physical disorders and result in reduced quality of life. For such reasons BPD patients often find it difficulty keeping a job and having a family.

What causes BPD?

The exact cause of BPD is not clear but they’re thought to result from a combination of the inherited genes and early environmental influences – for example, a distressing childhood experience such as abuse or neglect. The management of patients with personality disorder is one of the most challenging and sometimes controversial areas of psychiatry.

How do you diagnose BPD?

Diagnosing BDP requires specific recognised criteria. Some of the criteria include symptoms

Such as the following:
  • Intense fear of being left alone
  • Intense and unstable relationships
  • Absence of strong sense of self and self-image
  • Impulsive and risky behaviours
  • Self harming behaviours
  • Intense mood swings

How do you treat BPD?

Recovery from BPD depends on correct diagnosis, psychological and often medical treatment and a minimum of three months of talking therapy with a psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist. There is no single treatment and the treatment options depend on the individual and their specific needs.

Treatment for BPD usually involves some type of psychological therapy, also known as psychotherapy. Psychotherapy involves taking time to help the patient get a better understanding of how they think and feel. Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is also often used and is a type of therapy specifically designed to treat people with BPD. The goal of DBT is to help patients “break free” of seeing the world and their relationships in a very narrow, rigid way that leads them to engage in harmful and self-destructive behaviour.

Key conclusion
Complete recovery from BPD remains rare with high levels of relapse. However, those patients who receive appropriate treatment from professionals will do well to manage their disorder and this will positively impact how they live their lives. If you or someone you know is suffering from BPD it is essential help is sought.

Contact us, The Blue Tree Clinic for private personality disorder assessment and treatment.

References

Clarkin, J. F., Levy, K. N., Lenzenweger, M. F., & Kernberg, O. F. (2007).
Evaluating Three Treatments for Borderline Personality Disorder: A Multiwave Study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 164(6), 922-928. Retrieved from https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/ajp.2007.164.6.922. doi:10.1176/ajp.2007.164.6.922

Coid, J., Yang, M., Tyrer, P., Roberts, A., & Ullrich, S. (2006).
Prevalence and correlates of personality disorder in Great Britain. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 188(5), 423-431.

Davison, S. E. (2002).
Principles of managing patients with personality disorder. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 8(1), 1-9.

Hutsebaut, J., Videler, A. C., Verheul, R., & Van Alphen, S. P. J. (2019).
Managing borderline personality disorder from a life course perspective: Clinical staging and health management. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 10(4), 309-316. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pdh&AN=2019-29902-001&site=ehost-live
Joost.Hutsebaut@deviersprong.nl. doi:10.1037/per0000341

Lieb, K., Zanarini, M. C., Schmahl, C., Linehan, M. M., & Bohus, M. (2004).
Borderline personality disorder. The Lancet, 364(9432), 453-461.