Symptoms of a Personality Disorder

Personality disorder is the term used within mental health services to describe longstanding difficulties in how individuals think and feels about themselves and others, and consequently how they behave in relation to other people. Symptoms vary depending on the type of personality disorder.

Borderline personality disorder

People with borderline personality disorder (one of the most common types) tend to have disturbed ways of thinking, impulsive behaviour and problems controlling their emotions. They may have intense but unstable relationships and worry about people abandoning them. 

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a disorder of mood and how a person interacts with others. In general, someone with a personality disorder will differ significantly from an average person in terms of how he or she thinks, perceives, feels or relates to others.

The symptoms of BPD can be grouped into four main areas:

  • emotional instability – the psychological term for this is affective dysregulation
  • disturbed patterns of thinking or perception – (cognitive distortions or perceptual distortions)
  • impulsive behaviour
  • intense but unstable relationships with others

The symptoms of a personality disorder may range from mild to severe and usually emerge in adolescence, persisting into adulthood.

Read more about the symptoms of BPD.

Antisocial personality disorder

People with antisocial personality disorder will typically get easily frustrated and have difficulty controlling their anger. They may blame other people for problems in their life, and be aggressive and violent, upsetting others with their behaviour.

Antisocial personality disorder is a particularly challenging type of personality disorder, characterised by impulsive, irresponsible and often criminal behaviour.

Someone with antisocial personality disorder will typically be manipulative, deceitful and reckless, and won't care for other people's feelings.

Like other types of personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder is on a spectrum, which means it can range in severity from occasional bad behaviour to repeatedly breaking the law and committing serious crimes. Psychopaths are considered to have a severe form of antisocial personality disorder.

Read more about antisocial personality disorder.

You can also read about the other types of personality disorder on the Royal College of Psychiatrists website.

Someone with a personality disorder may also have other mental health problems, such as depression and substance abuse.