4 Personality Disorders That Women Are More Likely To Have Than Men

Hannah Burton/Bustle

Just like there are certain physical illnesses that are more common in women, there are different psychiatric health disorders that tend to affect women more as well. If you've wondered who do personality disorders affect, there are a number of personality disorders that women are more likely to have than men, although the reasons can sometimes be unclear. Just because you are a women doesn't necessarily mean you will have one of these disorders, but being aware of the increased risk can help you pay attention to signs and symptoms of a potential personality disorder in you or someone you love.

There are ten different personality disorders noted in the DSM-5, the manual that lists the criteria of mental conditions and illnesses, and there tends to be an overlap between many of them, neuropsychologist Rhonda Freeman tells Bustle. Most of these disorders happen equally in men and women, but some tend to occur more in women. However, it is still unclear whether they actually occur more frequently or if they just appear more in the data because women are more likely to seek treatment for mental health issues.

Although researchers are still unsure of the reasons, these are the four personality disorders that are sometimes found to affect women more than men, according to experts.


Borderline Personality Disorder

Hannah Burton/Bustle

The most common personality disorder that women get diagnosed with is Borderline Personality Disorder, which is characterized by feeling empty, anger outbursts, unstable mood, self-harm and other symptoms. "The traits of this disorder are generally maladaptive traits that one has evolved in order to protect themselves from experiencing further trauma," David Cato, LCSW, TCT, SEP tells Bustle. "Women are reported to be diagnosed with this disorder more often due to reports that they experience more abuse (emotional, verbal, physical, sexual) at young ages and learn to cope with symptoms by behaving erratically." If you or someone you know is beginning to exhibit these symptoms, speaking with a therapist or loved one can be the first step in finding treatment.

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit


Avoidant Personality Disorder

Hannah Burton/Bustle

Women tend to also experience Avoidant Personality Disorder more often, which is characterized by isolation, keeping distance from peers and activities, and worrying about what others may think of them. "This personality disorder is often connected to Borderline Personality Disorder as someone may isolate and also engage in self-harm behaviors, whether it be cutting, substance use, eating disorders, etc.," says Cato. "The cause is linked to neglect, abandonment, and receiving negative feedback as a child. If [someone] with Avoidant Personality Disorder is not around others, they believe they are protecting themselves from getting hurt." According to the Merck Mannual, between 1 and 5.2 percent of the population experience Avoidant Personality Disorder, but it's more commonly diagnosed among women. If you or someone close to you may be showing signs of Avoidant Personality Disorder, finding help from a professional can be the best way to look after your mental health.


Dependent Personality Disorder

Ashley Batz/Bustle

Someone with Dependent Personality Disorder is defined as a passive individual that relies on others to help them make decisions. "They will also go to great lengths to please someone or keep them in their life," says Cato. "Again, while the exact cause is unknown, symptoms of this personality disorder stem from childhood trauma, restricted autonomy, and being a child of someone that struggles with substance use disorder or mental health issues. Women are generally taught to care for others at a young age so it is likely that they will develop Dependent Personality Disorder more than men. Additionally, if a child learns early on that they have to take care of those around them, this can continue through adulthood." Although Psychology Today notes that Dependent Personality Disorder affects less than one percent of the population, women are found to be the majority of those diagnosed. If you or someone close to you are experiencing these symptoms due to a past of trauma, do not be afraid to speak up for yourself, and seek help from a professional.


Histrionic Personality Disorder

Ashley Batz/Bustle

"With this condition we see a pattern of dramatic, extremely emotional, attention seeking behaviors," says Freeman. "They use manipulation to elicit care from others. They tend to give considerable focus to their appearance, are sexually provocative, and emotionally shallow. They are easily suggestible, seeming to have no core opinions or convictions of their own, but rather will sway toward external influences." The direct cause of this disorder is not known, but the prevalent theory suggests that it is often related to childhood experiences (trauma), genetics, and parental modeling. However, it could also reflect clinician bias, as according to the DSM-5, there seems to be no significant difference in the prevalence rate between males and females.

Although these disorders occur in both men and women, more women tend to be diagnosed with these personality disorders than men. If you or someone you know is experiencing any symptoms that could suggest they have a personality disorder, look to a therapist or loved one for help. Therapeutic treatment can help to improve the overall impact of these issues on your mental health.