It can be difficult for someone with a personality disorder to learn to trust a doctor or therapist. However, establishing a positive relationship with a healthcare provider is an important step towards recovery. The treatment may vary, based on the type of personality disorder and any other conditions that might be present.
Psychotherapy is the most effective long-term treatment option for personality disorders. Psychotherapy helps people to understand their thoughts, motivations and feelings through a therapeutic relationship with a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. These insights can help people to manage their symptoms, develop satisfying relationships and make positive behaviour changes.
- cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)
- dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)
- psychodynamic psychotherapy
Medication and personality disorders
There is no specific medication to treat personality disorders. However, antidepressant medications may be used to treat associated conditions such as anxiety and depression, or to help people cope with their symptoms. Less frequently, other types of medications such as antipsychotics or mood stabilisers may be prescribed.
Medication works most effectively in combination with psychotherapy.
Some people with personality disorders have trouble coping with stressful events, and may need support in a crisis. They may develop suicidal thoughts and behaviours and require emergency assistance. Rarely, hospitalisation may be required in severe cases to prevent the risk of self-harm or suicide, or for the treatment of other mental health conditions. This is a temporary solution to ensure safety and, in general, long-term hospital admission is not recommended for people with personality disorders.
You should call triple zero (000) if you are having suicidal thoughts or believe someone else may be at risk of suicide. Helplines, such as Lifeline on 13 11 14, are also available to assist in a crisis. With treatment and support, many people with personality disorders are able to learn to manage their symptoms, develop positive and healthy relationships, and create a meaningful and fulfilling life.
Last reviewed: December 2016