What is a personality disorder?

What treatment is available?

Page last updated: May 2007

The range of treatments for personality disorders is growing. The type of treatment depends on the type of personality disorder.

Many personality disorders are related to other mental illnesses, although the behaviour is usually more enduring and chronic. For example, obsessive compulsive personality disorder is related to obsessive compulsive disorder, schizoid personality disorder to schizophrenia, and avoidant personality disorder to social phobia. Consequently, some similar treatment approaches may be used.

For borderline personality disorder, psychological therapies are the main treatment approach. Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy that targets mood instability and impulsivity.

It teaches people how to manage their emotions, and re-learn ways to react to people and situations.

An important aim of treatment for people with borderline personality disorder is managing self-harm and suicidal behaviour. DBT has been shown to be effective in bringing suicidal behaviours under control.

While our understanding of the effective treatment of personality disorders is still growing, the earlier treatment is sought the more effective it is likely to be.

The family and friends of people with a personality disorder can often feel confused and distressed. Support and education, as well as better community understanding, are an important part of treatment.