Discussing mental health topics can become confusing due to some of the seemingly sophisticated vocabulary. Many individuals become muddled in the differences between certain disorders, thinking that mental health is all the same. However, there are important differences between disorders that should be understood to destigmatize the subject and help those struggling put a name to what they are experiencing.

Two often misunderstood fields of mental health include mood disorders and personality disorders. While they may seem similar at first glance, they have distinguishing characteristics. Understanding these differences can bring hope to those struggling and better understanding to the world at large.

What Is a Mood Disorder?

According to MedlinePlus by the National Institutes of Health, a mood disorder affects your day-to-day emotional state regardless of circumstances. Your moods can change quickly, impacting your ability to function and live your life. Types of mood disorders include bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and substance-induced mood disorders.

Common symptoms of mood disorders include persistent feelings of sadness, episodes of mania, sleep disturbances, problems focusing, impulsive behavior, irritability, feeling on-edge, weight changes, and changes in energy.

Treatment options for mood disorders usually include a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers are the most common medications given to individuals with mood disorders. Psychotherapy sessions are recommended to occur alongside taking medicine to help the person work through underlying issues or behaviors. Psychotherapy can include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that helps patients replace harmful thoughts and behaviors with more positive ones.

What Is a Personality Disorder?

MedlinePlus defines personality disorders as “a group of mental illness (that) involve long-term patterns of thoughts and behaviors that are unhealthy and inflexible.” Those with personality disorders often have problems with interpersonal relationships due to an inability to relate to other people and situations. Having a personality disorder means you may struggle with two more of the following: emotional responses, relating to others, self-perception and perception of others, and controlling one’s behavior. Common types of personality disorders include borderline personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and dependent personality disorder.

Symptoms of personality disorders include a fragile self-image, rapidly changing moods, impulsive behavior, suicidal ideation or behavior, unclear self-image, fits of rage, fear of abandonment, and unstable personal relationships.

Personality disorders are typically treated using psychotherapy. Psychotherapy helps those struggling learn more about their disorder, identify unhealthy coping mechanisms, and replace them with more positive coping strategies. Types of psychotherapy used include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), group therapy, and psychoeducation. Medication can be used, but there are no medications specifically for treating personality disorders.

Confusing mental health terms is understandable given the vast amount of information within the field. However, learning the differences between various disorders and treatments can help more people find healing. Personality disorders and mood disorders are often confused for each other, but they have defining characteristics that separate them from one another. Understanding these differences can help you to better understand what you are struggling with and what treatment options are out there for you. To start the path to healing today, contact Alta Loma Transformational Services at (866) 457-3843.


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