Personality Disorders - Risks & Complications
What risks and complications can personality disorders cause?
Doctors sometimes find it difficult diagnose personality disorder. This can be because of the following:
- An overlap with other mental health problems can make it difficult to pinpoint or ‘narrow down’ symptoms.
- Personality disorders are complex. The symptoms may not easily fit into any one of the ‘clusters’.
- If you use drugs or drink alcohol a lot, it can make it more difficult for health professionals to reach a correct diagnosis.
- Some doctors are reluctant to give this diagnosis, feeling that it may be ‘problematic’ or make it harder for you to get help.
You may feel you have been given a diagnosis of personality disorder because a professional is unsure of your diagnosis.
You may find it an unhelpful label or that it is stigmatising. But some people find that a diagnosis can help them to understand certain things they do, and help with finding the right treatment and support.
I didn’t understand why I had been given the diagnosis of personality disorder. At first, it was insulting. It felt like I was being told my personality was wrong or that I was somehow ‘flawed’. Everyone has faults and traits and everyone does things wrong. However, after some encouragement from my partner, I started the therapy that was offered. Over time, I began to learn techniques and methods that slowly helped with how I was feeling.
Services and recovery
The Department of Health says that people with personality disorders should be able to get the right care and services.
But because there aren’t specialist personality disorder units in every area, some people are not always able to get the right treatment.
You can ask to get treatment from a different NHS trust if your trust doesn’t offer a type of treatment you feel may help. You can do this by making an ‘individual funding request’. Once you have made a request, a panel will consider your case and decide whether the NHS will pay for it. You need to show that the treatment you are asking for will help with the symptoms of your illness and that other available treatments have not worked.
You can find out more about ‘NHS treatment – your rights’ here.
A study found that a lot of people who start treatment for personality disorders do not finish it. This can mean that getting better can be difficult or slow for some people. Dropping out of therapy might make people feel they can’t change or that their condition isn’t treatable.
In some areas, services use pre-therapy preparation to help people understand the link between emotions and decisions. The aim is to help you recognise your emotions before starting therapy, and hopefully finish your sessions.
Self-harm is common if you have borderline personality disorder (BPD). People self-harm to help manage feelings that are triggered by specific events or strong negative emotions. It can also act as a way of coping with distressing events and communicating the stress that they feel.
You can find out about ‘Self-harm’ here.
Use of alcohol and drugs
People with personality disorders can find that they use drugs or drink alcohol to cope with difficult emotions and feelings. This is sometimes known as dual diagnosis. Drinking alcohol or using drugs can lead to:
- doing things that you might not do normally (loss of inhibition)
- behaving impulsively (acting on the spur of the moment), and
- poor physical health.
Antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder have the strongest links with alcohol and drugs.
If you use drugs or drink alcohol heavily, you may find that some specialist personality disorder services will say that you need to cut down or stop before you can use the service.
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