Personality disorder is a diagnosis that may be given to someone who experiences extreme distress, resulting in significant disruption to their life and relationships. In making this diagnosis, doctors will ask about changes that are unusual for you and look for possible symptoms. These can include:

  • difficulties with relationships
  • thoughts or actions of self-harm
  • feelings of extreme fear of abandonment
  • feelings of extreme vulnerability

Common personality disorders

Borderline personality disorder (BPD): feeling strong emotions and moods. You may experience difficulty coping with these emotions or feelings, and may experience a very negative sense of self.
Paranoid personality disorder: feeling suspicious of other people. You may feel worried that other people are lying to you or want to hurt you. If you feel this way, you may find it difficult to trust or forgive people.
Antisocial personality disorder: feelings of impulsiveness. You may experience extreme feelings of frustration and act in ways that other people might view as inappropriate or anti-social. 
Avoidant personality disorder: feeling fearful of being criticised or judged. You may feel extremely uncomfortable in certain social settings and avoid relationships.

As a result of the above extreme feelings or emotions, people may be at risk of using drugs and/or alcohol as a way of coping or may have self-harming thoughts or actions.

These types of experiences can have a significant impact on daily life, including relationships, work, physical health and sense of self.

Treatment and support will be different for each person. Mental health professionals should help you find treatments and supports that work best for you. This may be a combination of medication, rehabilitation and professional, family, community and peer support.

A number of therapies are available that aim to help people understand thoughts, motivations and feelings. This includes Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and psychotherapy. These therapies aim to help people manage their symptoms, develop satisfying relationships and make positive behaviour changes.

A diagnosis will mean different things to different people. It is only one way of understanding your experiences and what might support your recovery. It can help to do your own research and talk to a range of professionals, trusted family and friends, or to people who have had similar experiences.

Regardless of diagnosis, people do recover and live well.

If you need to talk, call our Helpline

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For more information, please contact Wellways on 1300 111 400.