Personality disorders are often not diagnosed until a person is in adulthood. Technically, the diagnosis of a personality disorder is not made until a person is at least 18 years old. This is an area of much debate and disagreement. We at PDAN believe that the symptoms of personality disorders should be assessed at an early age. An Australian study showed the strongest prediction of a personality disorder in adulthood is the presence of those symptoms in childhood and adolescence (Chanen, A., McCutcheon, L., Jovev, M., Jackson, H., & McGorry, P. (2007).
Prevention and early intervention for borderline personality disorder. The Medical Journal of Australia. 187 (7), 18-21). Thus, the age at which the label of a personality disorder should be used is not the issue. It is, however, clear that personality disorder symptoms should be addressed early. Thus, a clear risk factor for developing a personality disorder is none other than the presence of those symptoms in childhood and adolescence. These symptoms include emotional dysregulation, temper outbursts, impulsivity, impaired thinking, depressive symptoms, substance abuse (especially alcohol), and disturbances in interpersonal relationships. Since many of these symptoms can be easily focused upon singularly, such as depression or substance abuse, traits of personality disorders may be missed. PDAN, consistent with its emphasis on prevention, is dedicated to providing education and resources to family, friends, and professionals who may be able to act as mitigating forces against the development of personality disorders.