Mood vs. Personality Disorders: Differences Explained

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As humans, we are capable of experiencing a wide range of emotions, encompassing everything from joy to pain and love to hate. But when one particular mood begins to take over your life, particularly a negative one, there could be a mental disorder at its root. 

Depending on the symptoms, you may have a mood or personality disorder. Both of these affect your relationships and can disrupt your life. The good news is that you don’t have to handle them alone. Look for help at a top SoCal mental health treatment center or a facility in your area.

How do you know if you have a mood or personality disorder or if you’re just going through a season of strong emotion in your life? We’ll explain the two conditions and their differences here.

Recognizing Mood Disorders

Did you know that feeling extreme highs can be just as problematic as experiencing those deep lows? Healthy emotions consist of an average range of feelings, including general contentment and satisfaction, that are occasionally impacted by difficulties and challenges. These will bring sadness or anger to the surface, and that’s normal, too.

But when you feel extended periods where nothing fazes you, you’re always “high” on life, and even sad circumstances can’t burst your bubble, there’s a problem. Chances are, this happy state will eventually be replaced by an extreme period of sadness.

Either mood can hurt your ability to respond to a situation correctly. If you recognize any of these symptoms consistently, it’s time to get help:

  • Extended periods of sadness, regardless of the circumstances around you
  • Low energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness or that you don’t matter
  • Changes in appetite/unexplained weight fluctuations
  • Feelings of high energy and elation
  • Irritability, restlessness, or agitation
  • Fast speech
  • Risky behaviors
  • Racing thoughts
  • Trouble sleeping

 A combination of these symptoms could mean you have a mood disorder. This is similar to a personality disorder, with certain significant differences that characterize the two uniquely.

Recognizing Personality Disorders

Your personality is not your mood, although many people confuse the two. Moods change, but your personality is the consistent pattern of your thoughts, perceptions, reactions, and relations with others. For instance, some people have an outgoing, bubbly personality, while others are more introverted and shy. However, your personality can and should adapt to the situation using societal norms, such as adjusting to a celebration with a relaxed and happy appearance or switching to a more somber change for a funeral.

When that personality becomes so unflexible that it interferes with your life, you may have a personality disorder. This is typically caused by something in your experience that triggers your behavior change. Symptoms of a personality disorder include:

  • Distrust of others, regardless of who they are or what they’ve done
  • A general belief that others want to lie to you or hurt you
  • An inability to be happy in most situations
  • Not caring to “fit in” with society through your appearance, beliefs, speech, or actions
  • An inability to recognize or care for social cues that get you in trouble with others
  • Risky behaviors in a bid to get attention from others
  • Self-esteem concerns due to fear of criticism or rejection

 You may think that you’re the only person who understands how the world’s ethics, morals, or values are wrong. As such, you want others to listen to you, but they see you as arrogant or irrational. The reality is likely somewhere in between and is found in digging into your personality disorder.

With these two explanations under your belt, you’ll be more apt to determine whether your disorder focuses on you — your thoughts and feelings — or how you respond to others. The first one applies to mood disorders, while the second is associated with a personality disorder.

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I'm Alice and I live with a dizzying assortment of invisible disabilities, including ADHD and fibromyalgia. I write to raise awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental and chronic illnesses of all kinds. 

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