Personality disorders

Definition of Personality disorders

Personality disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions in which a person’s long-term (chronic) behaviors, emotions, and thoughts are very different from their culture’s expectations and cause serious problems with relationships and work.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The causes of personality disorders are unknown. However, many genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role.

Symptoms

Symptoms vary widely depending on the type of personality disorder.

Signs and tests

Personality disorders are diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation and the history and severity of the symptoms.

Treatment

At first, people with these disorders usually do not seek treatment on their own. They tend to seek help once their behavior has caused severe problems in their relationships or work, or when they are diagnosed with another psychiatric problem, such as a mood or substance abuse disorder.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outlook varies. Some personality disorders go away during middle age without any treatment, while others only improve slowly throughout life, even with treatment.

Review

Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 11/14/2010

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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