TREATMENTS THAT CAN HELP EASE THE TORMENT OF PERSONALITY DISORDERS
THERE is no quick cure for a personality disorder but lots of treatments can make life easier, and some people improve so much they no longer have a personality disorder.
It’s important to get a formal diagnosis by a psychiatrist or psychologist. Most mental health trusts have specialist teams who assess, diagnose and treat those affected.
The main treatment is psychotherapy, with different types useful for different symptoms: some people may need several types over several years. Where the main symptoms are difficulties in managing emotions, for example, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, which has elements of cognitive behavioural therapy, can help get people to identify and change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.
Some treatments are in groups; others are individual. Some psychiatric hospitals also offer therapeutic communities, where people with personality disorders choose to live for a period of time. Personality disorders can’t be cured by medication, however, many psychiatrists prescribe tablets to help with specific symptoms.
Antidepressants can help with mood or emotional difficulties and feelings of impulsiveness or anxiety. Antipsychotics are also sometimes used in low doses to take the edge off agitation.
Some people don’t need regular treatment, just advice and support at times when they are struggling. In general, admission to
a psychiatric hospital is avoided if possible because research has found that it tends not to benefit people with personality disorder and can be counterproductive, as it stops them developing coping strategies. Hospitals have ‘Crisis Teams’ to support patients in the community if they are having a difficult time.
If your partner, colleague or friend has a personality disorder, it’s important that you look after yourself, too. Set clear rules and expectations around their behaviour and walk away, distance yourself or give ‘time out’ when the boundary has been overstepped — but emphasise that it is a temporary measure and doesn’t mean you don’t love or care about them.