#Wellbeing series: A guide about personality disorders

Personality Disorders – A guide about personality disorders

Buzz Manchester Health & Wellbeing Service

Personality disorders are common mental health problems. A UK study from 2006, found that one in 20 people might have a personality disorder. Many people with personality disorders lead full and successful lives. Some people may even recover over time. One example is Borderline Personality Disorder which is the most commonly recognised personality disorder.

Each of us have our own set of patterns in the way we think, feel and what we do. Some people develop patterns of behaviour that lead to long-term problems in the way they think, feel or how they cope in personal relationships with other people.  

There are many factors that play a part in why people develop personality disorders but the two main reasons are our genes and experiences in life. Problems with personality usually start around teen years and continue into adulthood often caused by tough upbringing in childhood.

This may include:

  • Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Bullying 
  • Feeling unloved
  • Feeling uncared for
  • Feeling like no one understands you

Look out for the following patterns of behaviour if you think you and someone you know have a personality disorders:

  • Odd beliefs/behaviours – paranoid thoughts
  • Hard to manage emotions – including being very emotional or lacking emotions
    • relationships with other people 
    • Self-harm and suicidal thoughts Problems in relationships – including intense reactions to relationships, uninterested in and avoiding

There are 3 main clusters of personality disorders: each has their own symptoms and or behaviours.

Cluster A 

  •  Have odd or eccentric beliefs 
  • Find it hard to relate to others 
  • Are suspicious or paranoid 
  •  Behave in ways most people would see as odd 
  • Other people may describe them as living in a fantasy world of their own

 Examples are: 

  •  Paranoid Personality Disorder 
  •  Schizoid Personality Disorder 
  •  Schizotypal Personality Disorder 

Cluster B

  •  Have chaotic lives 
  • Find it hard to manage their emotions 
  •  Behave in ways most people would see as odd 
  •  Swing between being very positive and being very upset and angry with other people • Other people may see them as being dramatic and unpredictable. This can distress them

 Examples are: 

  •  Borderline Personality Disorder 
  • Anti-social Personality Disorder 
  •  Narcissistic Personality Disorder 
  •  Histrionic Personality Disorder 

Cluster C

  •  Struggle with lots of feelings of anxiety and fear 
  •  Find it hard to cope with day to day life because of their anxiety 
  • Find it hard to do things for themselves without support from other people 
  •  Other people may see them as worrying a lot and needy

 Examples are: 

  •  Avoidant Personality Disorder 
  •  Dependent Personality Disorder 
  •  Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder 



  • Psychological therapies
  • Psychodynamic (reflective) psychotherapy 
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Therapeutic communities
  • Medication
  • Self-help 

Tips to help cope with personality disorder:

  • Educate yourself and other about your condition
  • Mindfulness – skill for focusing the mind 
  • Relaxation/stress management – learn how to manage stress in your life
  • Sleep – good quality sleep is vital for good mental health 
  • Manage relationships – keep in contact with family and friends and keep balance in your relationships
  • Drugs and alcohol – can negatively affect how you cope with your emotions
  • Organise activities – taking part in activities is good for mental health 
  • Coping strategies – create a list of useful things to do to help you cope at difficult times 
  • Seek help – if you are not coping seek help from family and friends

For a full guide visit: https://d1jw0l0b625fbx.cloudfront.net/docs/Personality-Disorders-December-2016.pdf

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