Personality disorders are a group of conditions characterised by an inability to get on with other people and learn from experience. People with a personality disorder may find that their beliefs and attitudes are different from those of most other people. Others may find their behaviour unusual, unexpected or perhaps offensive.
Personality disorders usually become apparent in adolescence or early adulthood, although they can start in childhood. People with a personality disorder may find it difficult to start or maintain relationships, or to work effectively with others. As a result, many may feel hurt, distressed, alienated and alone.
Personality disorders affect how a person thinks and behaves, making it hard for them to live a normal life. People diagnosed with personality disorder may be very inflexible – they may have a narrow range of attitudes, behaviours and coping mechanisms which they can’t change easily, if at all. They may not understand why they need to change, as they do not feel they have a problem.
Personality disorder is a controversial diagnosis. They are very deep-rooted, so hard to treat, but people can be helped to manage their difficulties. There are no accurate figures, but an estimated 10% of the general population have some kind of personality disorder. The risk of suicide in someone with a personality disorder is about three times higher than average. People who think they may be suffering from a personality disorder should consult a GP.