Psychiatric and personality disorders in deliberate self-harm patients

C Haw, K Hawton, K Houston, E Townsend
British Journal of Psychiatry 2001, 178 (1): 48-54

BACKGROUND: Previous UK studies have reported much lower rates of psychiatric and personality disorder in those who attempt suicide than in those who die by suicide.

AIMS: To determine the nature and prevalence of psychiatric and personality disorders in deliberate self-harm (DSH) patients.

METHOD: A representative sample of 150 DSH patients who presented to a general hospital were assessed using a structured clinical interview and a standardised instrument. Follow-up interviews were completed for 118 patients approximately 12-16 months later.

RESULTS: ICD-10 psychiatric disorders were diagnosed in 138 patients (92.0%), with comorbidity of psychiatric disorders in 46.7%. The most common diagnosis was affective disorder (72.0%). Personality disorder was identified in 45.9% of patients interviewed at follow-up. Comorbidity of psychiatric and personality disorder was present in 44.1%.

CONCLUSIONS: Psychiatric and personality disorders, and their comorbidity, are common in DSH patients. This has important implications for assessment and management.

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