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Personality Disorders

When your feelings become irrational and distressing, it can become a serious problem

You might feel, think and behave differently to most people. When your feelings become irrational and distressing, it can become a serious problem. Our personalities are made up of our thoughts, feeling and behaviours. They are unique to you and everyone is individual, shaping who we are.

Emotions can become difficult and personality traits can cause long-lasting problems in your life, meaning you have a personality disorder. They affect how you cope with life, relationships and emotions. Everyone’s way of dealing with day-to-day-life is different to others but you may find it difficult to change patterns of negative behaviour. Emotions can be confusing and complex, tiring and hard to control, which can be difficult for you and those around you.

Symptoms of personality disorders

Support and medical advice can help you recognise the causes, manage the symptoms and control your emotions and behaviour. You can have a personality disorder alongside other mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, but it can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar and broad – making it difficult to understand. It’s unclear what causes personality disorders but it can include biological, environmental or trauma.

The symptoms might be:

  • Highly changeable mood
  • Extreme reactions to feeling abandoned
  • Unstable relationships
  • Confused feelings about who you are
  • Being impulsive and reckless
  • Self-harm, suicidal threats or behaviour
  • Anger
  • Paranoid thoughts

Different types of personality disorders

Personality disorders are split into three categories:

  1. Finding it difficult to relate to other people
  2. Finding it difficult to control your emotions
  3. Having strong feelings of fear or anxiety

The most common personality disorder is borderline personality disorder (BPD), where you may experience strong emotions, mood swings and feelings you find difficult to cope with. It can make you distressed and anxious, giving you problems with identity and how you view yourself and affecting relationships with others.

Finding it difficult to relate to other people can include paranoid, schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders, where you might feel suspicious of others, uninterested in forming social relationships, or making close relationships very difficult.

Finding it difficult to control your emotions can include antisocial, histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders – as well as borderline personality disorder – where you might not think about how your actions affect others, like being centre of attention and feel uncomfortable about being ignored, or have a high sense of self-importance.

Having strong feelings of fear or anxiety in relation to personality disorders can include dependent, avoidant and obsessive-compulsive (not related to OCD), where you may allow other people to take responsibility for parts of your life, have a fear of being judged negatively, or feel anxious when things are disorganised or unplanned.


Our Advice and Support Service is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, where advisers can signpost you to local support that most fits your needs, including our Change Mental Health services. We offer initial advice on money worries and help to deal with emergencies.

Contact 0808 8010 515, email us at or fill out the enquiry form on the Advice and Support Service page.

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