Prevalence

Epidemiological surveys using a variety of diagnostic criteria estimate a prevalence of 10 % to 15 % of at least one personality disorder within the general population (Mattia & Zimmerman, 2001). The diagnosis is more commonly made in younger people (25 to 44 years). The sex ratio varies according to the specific disorder: for example, women are more likely to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) whereas most individuals diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder are men. Unsurprisingly, both prisons and psychiatric hospitals have a particularly high prevalence of personality disorder. Within the former this has been estimated to be as high as 78 % Singleton, Meltzer & Gatward (1998), while figures for the latter range from one-third to two-thirds. The role of personality disorder in psychological morbidity is also significant in general practice. In a one-year prevalence study of 'conspicuous psychiatric morbidity' in patients attending two general practices in Nottinghamshire, Casey & Tyrer (1990) found that 28 % of identified cases also had personality disorders.

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