Because of the rapid, dramatic mood swings that personality-disordered individuals sometimes experience, it can be difficult to tell whether a change in their behavior is evidence of a substantial improvement or just part of the normal up and down of their feelings.

Perhaps the most reliable indicator of real recovery in a personality-disordered individual is longevity.

Whenever you observe a significant change in behavior from a person who suffers from a personality disorder, you should always ask: "How long ago did this happen?" Changes which last 12 months or more may be indicators of a significant long-term shift.

The 12 month threshold may seem over-conservative, but it is necessary in order to observe the effects of

  • Seasonal events - including the effects of climate changes in spring, summer, fall and winter.
  • Personal events - and holidays including Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day and important anniversaries.
  • Circumstantial events - including financial worries, employment stress, disappointments and opportunities.

Changes lasting shorter than 12 months and much shorter durations - such as weeks or days, are more commonly part of the normal ebb and flow of the personality-disordered person's changing moods and emotions.