Many people don’t understand the differences between a Mood Disorder and Personality Disorder. To distinguish between the two, first we have to understand what “mood” and “personality” are.
Mood – the temporary state of mind or feeling. It lasts for hours to days. Therefore it is more stable than changeable emotional feelings (e.g., anger, happiness, sadness).
Personality – the combination and interaction of a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Personality usually lasts for a lifetime and is therefore more stable than mood.
Mood Disorder – a person’s mood (change) is extreme and is prohibiting him or her from normal functioning in daily life tasks. For example, you feel depressed persistently to the extent that you cannot go to work every day and you have frequent thoughts related to hopelessness and feelings of worthlessness.
Personality Disorder – a person has traits that cause them to behave in ways that are considered outside the norm. These certain behaviours and emotions cause them distress. Similar to your personality, Personality Disorders are relatively constant. These traits usually manifest in the person’s teens or early 20s.
Examples of Mood Disorders: Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder and Panic Disorder.
Examples of Personality Disorders: Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.
Research has shown that medications don’t tend to reduce the symptoms associated with Personality Disorders. For example, clients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are often prescribed antidepressants to treat their related anxiety and depression, but not the traits related to their Personality Disorder. However, psychotherapy, which aims at changing a client’s thought patterns, feelings and behaviors, would be a more effective way to ameliorate the traits associated with Personality Disorders, as these traits are more stable and constant than symptoms associated with Mood Disorders.