Personality disorders

Explains personality disorders, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.

Your stories

Having a BPD diagnosis - my reality

Rebecca's account of being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Posted on 21/11/2014

A disordered personality?

Debbie talks about her experience of borderline personality disorder.

Posted on 30/07/2014

"What are you like when you're well?"

Louise talks about how her response when she was asked this question.

Posted on 27/04/2015

Why is it controversial?

The system of personality disorder diagnosis listed in this resource is the one generally used in this country. However, some psychiatrists disagree with its use, and many people who are given the diagnosis find it stigmatising and unhelpful.

The diagnosis of personality disorder can be controversial because:

Specialists can disagree about the way personality disorder should be understood

Some psychiatrists believe the types or categories of personality disorder are unhelpful, because:

  • most people who are diagnosed with a personality disorder do not fit any one category and may be diagnosed with more than one
  • the categories are based on how people behave when they are in hospital, not in the community – where most people live
  • some people believe the focus should instead be on what each individual needs in order to deal with their problems and discover new ways of living, not what category they are in

Could my diagnosis be wrong?

Some symptoms of personality disorder can be very similar to other mental health problems.

Depending on your mood and what's going on in your life when you speak to your mental health professional, they might find it hard to understand which diagnosis best fits your experiences.

What can I do if I disagree with my diagnosis?

If you're worried that your diagnosis doesn't fit the way you feel, it's important to discuss it with a mental health professional so you can make sure you're getting the right treatment to help you.

See our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem for information on how to make sure your voice is heard, and what you can do if you're not happy with your doctor.

Experiences of facing stigma

Personality disorder is a complex diagnosis that not everyone understands well, so you might find that people hold misconceptions about you or have a negative image of personality disorder.

In addition, the term 'personality disorder' can sound very judgemental. Being given a diagnosis or label of 'personality disorder' can feel as if you're being told there's something wrong with who you are. You may feel upset, insulted and excluded.

The stigma of being violent and dangerous is the worst for me. I am a caring and empathetic soul who would do anything for the people I love.

It's important to remember that you're not alone, and you don't have to put up with people treating you badly. Here are some options you can consider:

  • show people this information to help them understand more about what your diagnosis really means
  • get involved in your treatment – our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem provide guidance on having your say in your treatment, making your voice heard and steps you can take if you're not happy with your care
  • know your rights – our pages on legal rights provide more information
  • take action with Mind – see our campaigning page for details of the different ways you can get involved in helping us to challenge stigma

This information was published in August 2016. We will revise it in 2019.

Mental Health A-Z

Information and advice on a huge range of mental health topics

> Read our A-Z


Helping you to better understand and support people with mental health problems

> Find out more

Special offers

Check out our promotional offers on print and digital booklets, for a limited time only

> Visit our shop today