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Personality disorders

Private treatment, support, counselling and therapy for personality disorders in London at Schoen Clinic Chelsea

Personality disorders often present as patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that can make your interpersonal relationships more difficult. This in turn can lead to distress in various other areas of life, such as family and work.

The level of severity of these issues can range from mild to severe life-impacting, so it's important to get help where necessary.

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What is a personality disorder?

Personality disorders are a type of mental health condition that can lead to a significant impact on your wellbeing. They are often characterised by ongoing patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that cover a wide spectrum of things from a lack of interest in social relationships, mood swings, and excess emotional swings.

These behaviours are often rooted in childhood trauma, and onset will occur during adolescence or early adulthood and remains stable over time. The term ‘personality disorder’ covers a wide range of specific medical issues, so symptoms, how they present in individuals, and the treatments used to recover from them can differ from individual to individual, often requiring a very personalised approach.

What causes personality disorders?

Personality disorders typically don’t have a single cause and are often a combination of genetic, developmental, and social factors which contribute to the onset of a condition. Genetic disorders such as family history of mental health issues may be a factor in developing a personality disorder, as well as the social environment that an individual is raised in.

If excess stress, a chaotic family environment, or a generally dysfunctional family environment is experienced, this can be a contributing factor. Often childhood or early adult trauma or abuse can be a factor. Exposure to neglect, and emotional, physical or sexual abuse can have a profound impact on personality development, even many years later in life. This can manifest in negative experiences forming complex relationships, which may compound the issue.

Other factors that are believed to be contributing factors are neurobiological factors, poor educational development, and cultural factors. Personality disorders cover a wide spectrum of mental health issues, and are often complex in nature, making symptoms challenging.

Symptoms of personality disorders

As personality disorders cover such a wide spectrum of conditions, symptoms can be varied and individual to each person. However, there are some common signs and patterns that may be observed across various personality disorders:

Cognitive and Emotional Patterns 

Distorted thinking patterns, trouble perceiving and interpreting social cues accurately, and having intense, unpredictable emotional responses. Persistent feelings of emptiness or loneliness are also common, as well as challenges in trusting others.

Challenging relationships

Sufferers often experience difficulty in both establishing and maintaining close relationships, due to frequent conflict arising and a persistent fear of abandonment or rejection. This can also be witnessed as a lack of empathy for others' perspectives, and a tendency to form unstable and intense relationships, with problematic patterns appearing in relationships that do form. Sometimes forming intimate relationships can be common, as well as trouble with authority and working relationships.

Behavioural and self-image symptoms

Those with personality disorders can act very impulsive and have little self-control, particularly with regard to substance abuse, or self-harm. They might have difficulty controlling anger and frustration, and avoidance of responsibility, or blame-shifting. Those suffering might also have poor self-image, and chronic feelings of boredom, as well as unstable life goals, values, or attitudes towards career, and difficulty in seeing the impact of long-term decisions.

Mood & social function

Mood swings can be coming, with episodes of high highs and low lows and depression. Extreme reactions to trivial events, and subsequent social withdrawal can often be seen. Societal norms can be challenging, with those experiencing personality disorders unable or finding it difficult to comply with social norms that we take for granted. Symptoms vary significantly between individuals, so it's important to get professional help if you recognise these traits in yourself or someone you care about.

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Get in touch with our dedicated team today for highly specialised personality disorder treatment in London

If you need help with a personality disorder, please reach out to our caring team in London today. We have appointments available in as little as 24 hours so you can begin treatment with minimal wait.

To access private treatment as swiftly as possible, simply fill out our online pre-screening questionnaire at any time to suit you.

How much does personality disorder treatment cost?

The cost of different types of treatment, therapy or support will vary. See our full breakdown of our prices and funding options for more information or specific costs.

Types of personality disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) groups personality disorders into three main types. The severity of these can vary, and sometimes span multiple groups, depending on the individual:

Cluster A (Odd or Eccentric) Personality Disorders

Paranoid Personality Disorder often presents as distrust and suspicion of others. This affects the formation of close meaningful relationships, and a reluctance to confide in others. Schizoid Personality Disorder can be seen as a complete lack of interest in social relationships, a limited range of emotions, and a preference to be alone. Schizotypal Personality Disorder can involve distorted thinking when it comes to relationships, and sometimes peculiar thoughts, appearance, and behaviour.

Cluster B (Dramatic, Emotional, or Erratic) Personality Disorders

Borderline Personality Disorder (also known as EUPD or emotionally unstable personality disorder) is characterised by intense mood swings, acting overly impulsive, and having difficulty forming stable relationships. Narcissistic Personality Disorder presents in individuals as an overly-inflated sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy towards others, and an obsession with success, power, fame, or money. Antisocial Personality Disorder shows a disregard for others' rights, being overly impulsive, and having a lack of remorse for harmful or hurtful actions. Histrionic Personality Disorder is marked by being overly emotional, attention-seeking behaviour, and a relentless need for reassurance and approval from others.

Cluster C (Anxious or Fearful) Personality Disorders

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) (not to be confused with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD [link to this page]), OCPD involves an obsession with perfectionism, orderliness, and an overbearing need for control in situations. Avoidant Personality Disorder is characterised by feelings of being inadequate, particularly compared to others and being overly sensitive when others have external opinions of them. Dependent Personality Disorder as the name suggests, is an overwhelming desire to be taken care of, which can lead to behaviour characterised by submission and clinginess.

Getting a personality disorder diagnosis

The first step in getting treatment for any personality disorder is getting a medical diagnosis from a mental health professional.

Our trained and caring team will conduct an initial assessment, which will involve talking to you about your history of symptoms, current challenges, and your work, family, and personal life. We conduct these assessments with the highest of confidentiality, and compassion, and understand it can be difficult to open up about certain issues. Once we've done this, we'll assess whether your symptoms align with some of the classifications for mental health issues.

We might also ask you some more questions about your thoughts and feelings and might observe you in certain situations with others, and understand how you respond. This is all done at our comfortable and discreet facilities, and you won't be under any pressure other than to be yourself. It's important to undergo these steps to understand the nature of your issues. Each person is an individual, so we'll tailor our diagnosis procedure to understand what's causing your concerns.

How do I cope with my personality disorder?

Self-care is an important and often overlooked aspect of recovery from a personality disorder. From simple coping methods such as slowing down, making a cup of tea, or talking to someone close, to more long-term strategies that require specialist guidance and intervention, there are many things an individual can do to help with the day-to-day realities of recovering from a mental health condition.

Can a personality disorder be cured?

Many people who suffer from personality disorders can recover over time. Unlike some medical conditions, recovery from mental health conditions like personality disorder can be a long road, requiring a strong support network, the right medical diagnosis and bespoke treatment plan, and effective aftercare to aid long-term recovery.

Can a GP diagnose a personality disorder?

Generally, no - a personality disorder is often a complex, nuanced series of issues which requires a specialist diagnosis from a mental health professional. If you have concerns before or after speaking to your GP, contact our team who can help you with an initial assessment.

Personality disorder treatment

Given the often unique and specific nature of personality disorders, treatment is rarely a one-size-fits-all all approach. Treatment will typically involve a combination of psychotherapy, support from our mental health professionals, and sometimes medication.

Talking therapies such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are often used as these can focus on identifying and changing the root negative thought patterns and behaviours that are causing the disorders. They are used in a wide range of treatments, for many mental health issues, and are widely acknowledged to have good success rates, when used effectively.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Especially effective for borderline personality disorder, DBT combines cognitive-behavioural techniques with mindfulness and acceptance strategies, emphasising skills development in emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and mindfulness. Other types of therapy such as psychodynamic psychotherapy explore your brain process to deeply understand your current ways of thinking and behaving. Similarly, Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) focuses on helping you to build strong interpersonal relationships and better communication, particularly in those personality disorders whereby these are most affected.

Medication can be used to help manage some of the symptoms of personality disorders, such as antidepressants to stabilise mood, or antipsychotics, to address symptoms such as paranoia or severe mood instability.

Group therapy can provide an environment of support, where multiple individuals with similar personality disorders share their personal experiences, learn from others, and practise developing their interpersonal skills. This can also extend to family members and loved ones, who can offer understanding and support for the challenges you may be facing. In severe cases, hospitalisation might be necessary.

With the right treatment plan, following a diagnosis from one of our specialists, we can help you to get a better quality of life and promote healthier patterns of thinking and behaviour that will allow you to flourish in life.

Recovery from personality disorders is possible with specialist support

Meet our multidisciplinary team of personality disorder specialists today

Our team of mental health specialists have helped hundreds of people recover from the most challenging of complex personality disorders, transforming lives.

With their combined experience, specialisms in particular mental health disorders, and vast professional qualifications and accreditations, they're one of the best ways to recover from your own issues. Find out more about the team which specialises in personality disorder treatment below.

Dr Tara Tofiq

Consultant General Adult Psychiatrist

Dr Tara Tofiq

Dr Werner Kierski


Dr Werner Kierski

Dr Adrienne Key

Consultant Psychiatrist

Dr Adrienne Key

Dr Edel McAndrew

Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Dr Edel McAndrew

Jahanara Khatun

Counselling Psychologist

Jahanara Khatun

Gabriele Malinauskaite

Lead Psychotherapist

Gabriele Malinauskaite

Dr Greg Shields

Consultant Psychiatrist and Cancer Specialist Psychiatrist

Dr Greg Shields
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