Depression is the most common type of mood disorder, and affects approximately 10% of the UK population. All people experience states of unhappiness, but depression is an enduring state of deep unhappiness. Depression is a serious clinical condition, which can prevent carrying on with everyday life.
Symptoms of a personality disorder
Do you feel that your attitudes and beliefs are often different to those of people around you? Do others find your behaviour unusual or unpredictable? Do you find it difficult to control your emotions? Have you had difficulties forming and maintaining close relationships since your teenage years?
If you can strongly relate to some of these, then you may have a personality disorder and should seek advise from a professional. If you have experienced suicidal thoughts, have a history of self-harm or drug abuse, or partake in ‘risky’ behaviours such as excessive gambling or sexual promiscuity, then it is particularly important that you seek help.
An overview of personality disorders
There are currently 10 diagnosable personality disorders, but they can be difficult to distinguish as a person can display characteristics of more than one disorder at any given time. They are organized into three ‘clusters’ that group the disorders based on similar behaviours and emotions:
Cluster A – where odd or eccentric behaviours are a core aspect of the disorder.
Cluster B – where emotional or behavioural instability is most prevalent.
Cluster C – where the individual experiences overwhelming feelings of fear or anxiety.
Within these clusters there are more precise diagnoses, and your clinician will be able to discuss this further with you.
Personality disorders are not ‘illnesses’ that you catch, or conditions which you are born with, rather they are believed to slowly develop from childhood as a response to repeated problems or difficult relationships. Family instability has been identified as a risk factor, but the experiences of those suffering from personality disorders is greatly varied, making it difficult to identify their true cause.
Often, substance abuse or a highly stressful event can make previously underlying difficulties come to the surface, triggering onset of a personality disorder.
Anxiety Counselling and psychotherapy- how treatment works for your condition
Although personality disorders are highly complex and can be difficult to treat, the long-term outlook can be optimistic – however, it may require a number of different treatment approaches over a long period of time.
A specially trained clinician can help an individual to understand and regulate their thoughts and emotions, through a range of different talking therapies. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is such an approach that attempts to achieve behavioural modification by correcting the maladaptive thought processes that underlie mental health disorders. By working together with a trained professional, individuals with personality disorders can better understand their abnormal patterns of thinking and gradually achieve a more realistic and positive interpretation of themselves and others around them. CBT involves talking through an individuals’ problems with a clinician, as well as setting regular homework tasks to help them cope more effectively with their difficulties. Multiple variations of CBT exist, such as Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (designed specifically to treat personality disorders), and so different therapies may need to be tried for optimal results.
Whilst they cannot directly treat the core symptoms of personality disorders, a psychiatrist may prescribe medication to reduce symptoms relating to anxiety or low mood. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs (anxiolytics) can help to stabilise an individuals emotions to increase responsiveness to talking therapies. There is also evidence that low doses of antipsychotics are effective at alleviating some of the more severe symptoms of a number of personality disorders.
Through a combination of psychotherapy, medication (if deemed appropriate), and support from those around them, individuals with personality disorders can overcome their difficulties and happy, fulfilling lives.