The short answer is yes.

We have seen from numerous other articles that I have previously published on this site that those who have been unfortunate enough to have suffered severe, protracted, interpersonal childhood trauma are at increased risk of being diagnosed with a personality disorder in adult life. But how many personality disorders can one individual suffer from?

According to Coid et al. (2006) 4.4 per cent of the population of the United Kingdom suffer from at least one personality disorder. However, as one might expect, Coid’s et al.’s research suggests that some personality disorders are more common than others. Coid et al. state that the most common personality disorders in the U.K are:

And the study also found the following disorders to be the least common amongst the surveyed population:

  • schizotypal personality disorder
  • dependent personality disorder
  • histrionic personality disorder
  • narcissistic personality disorder

Coid et al. found that the incidence of EACH of the above eight personality disorders taken INDIVIDUALLY varied from 0.06% (least prevalent) to 1.9% (most prevalent).

IT IS COMMON FOR SOMEONE TO SUFFER FROM MORE THAN ONE PERSONALITY DISORDER AT THE SAME TIME

The researchers also found that personality disorders frequently occur comorbidly in the same individual i.e. many individuals are suffering from MORE THAN ONE personality disorder at any given time. Amongst Coid’s et al.’s sample of individuals, it was found that NEARLY HALF HAD MORE THAN ONE PERSONALITY DISORDER. A breakdown of the figures reflected in the researchers’ population sample was as follows:

  • ONE PERSONALITY DISORDER: 54%
  • TWO PERSONALITY DISORDERS: 22%
  • THREE PERSONALITY DISORDERS: 11%
  • BETWEEN FOUR AND EIGHT PERSONALITY DISORDERS: 14%

SOME DEMOGRAPHICS OF PERSONALITY DISORDERS OBTAINED FROM THE STUDY:

According to the data collected:

  • Personality disorders occur more frequently amongst men than amongst women (although women suffering from BPD may be more likely to seek treatment for it than men)
  • Personality disorders occur more frequently in poor and urban environments
  • Personality disorders occur more frequently in individuals who are separated or divorced
  • Personality disorders occur more frequently amongst the unemployed (Coid et al., 2006).

ARE THOSE DIAGNOSED WITH AT LEAST ONE PERSONALITY DISORDER ALSO MORE LIKELY TO SUFFER FROM OTHER MENTAL ILLNESSES?

Again, the short answer is yes. Coid et al. found that those who suffered from antisocial, borderline, narcissistic and/or histrionic personality disorder were at particular risk of also suffering from anxiety, mood and/or psychotic disorders, whilst those suffering from avoidant, dependent and/or obsessive-compulsive personality disorder were at particular risk of also suffering from mood and anxiety disorders.

REFERENCES:

Coid J, Yang M, Tyrer P, Roberts A, Ullrich S. Prevalence and correlates of personality disorder in Great Britain. Br J Psychiatry. 2006 May;188:423-31. doi: 10.1192/bjp.188.5.423. PMID: 16648528.

David Hosier BSc Hons: MSc; PGDE(FAHE).