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The University of Bristol has done some groundbreaking research into people with personality disorders (PD) and their enduring relationship difficulties. In the UK, roughly one in 20 people are affected by the condition which represents up to 40 per cent of adult mental health service users.

In collaboration with the University Melbourne, the University of Bristol has provided a greater understanding of the disease burden associated with personality disorder for the first time.

The study’s lead author Dr Paul Moran, from Bristol’s School of Social and Community Medicine said "Using the data from an Australian community sample, we tracked the health and social outcomes of people with personality disorder, 11 years after they were originally assessed for the presence of personality difficulties or personality disorder.

"At the age of 24, personality disorder was already linked with social disadvantage, substance misuse and poor mental health. Eleven years later, the presence of personality pathology predicted the occurrence of anxiety and depression, as well as the absence of long-term relationships. What is most striking is that these associations were not due to pre-existing mental health, substance use or social problems. 

"People with personality disorder appear to be a distinctly vulnerable group with regards to future mental health and relationship problems. There is no doubt that future efforts to understand population health could be more successful if they took account of personality pathology. 

"Furthermore, there is a pressing need for early intervention, as well as innovative strategies to address the substantial disease burden experienced by people with personality disorder."

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