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Treatment for personality disorders

2-minute read

A personality disorder is hard to deal with alone. Talking to a doctor or mental health professional is the first step towards getting support and treatment.

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

Psychotherapy is the most effective long-term treatment option for personality disorders. Psychotherapy is when a psychologist or psychiatrist helps people to understand their thoughts, motivations and feelings. These insights can help people to manage their symptoms, develop satisfying relationships and make positive behaviour changes.

Methods include:

Medicine and personality disorders

There is no specific medicine to treat personality disorders. However, antidepressant medicines 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 medicines such as antipsychotics or mood stabilisers may be prescribed.

Medicine works most effectively in combination with psychotherapy.

Crisis management

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.

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Last reviewed: December 2018

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