Personality disorder is a term which describes a set of problems that cause difficulties to an individual and/or those around them over a prolonged period of time. You will usually recognise you have problems, and may have assumed nothing can be done, or sought help in various places without finding much that makes a significant difference. Most of the problems affect relationships and the ability to cope with stress. Hard to handle feelings can lead to unstable mood, periods of depression or anxiety, and desperate attempts to alleviate how you feel. In an attempt to feel better you may use self destructive behaviours, drink or drugs, or have difficulties controlling your temper. You may experience anxiety being around other people, feelings you can’t cope by yourself, or have difficulty getting along with people and come across as rigid or distant. Although it is rare to experience all these things, many people will suffer from a number of them.
These kind of problems, if long term or lifelong, are referred to as personality traits, meaning an established way of interacting, being and feeling. If they have a significant negative effect on your life, you may suffer from a personality disorder. It may be difficult to maintain a tenancy, or employment, or relationships, but things are different for different people.
Not everyone who is treated in the Complex Needs Service suffers from a personality disorder, but everyone in the service has long term problems of the sort described above.
For more information on personality disorder from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, follow this link.
For some of the medical and academic/public health background to personality disorder, follow this link.