Table of Contents Hide
We live in an era where psychological problems are at their peak. According to an American study, 1 out of every 4 adults is suffering from a psychological disorder and this number will only get worse as we advance. There are many myths, stereotypes and confusion regarding these mental health issues. One of the issues that people face is the distinction of personality disorders and mental illness. These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. However, there are differences between the two and categorising an individual without much information is unethical.
In a time where mental health is the talk of the hour and people use words like ‘psychotic, ‘sociopath’, ‘mentally ill’, ‘personality disordered’, etc. This article discusses these two terms ‘Personality disorders’ and ‘mental illnesses’ in detail. Continue reading if you wish to learn more!
What is Mental Illness?
Before we begin to find the key differences between these two terminologies, it is important to know the exact meaning of the same. Mental illnesses are also referred to as mental disorders, psychiatric disorder, Psychological illness etc.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), mental illness is defined as any condition characterized by cognitive and emotional disturbances, abnormal behaviors, impaired functioning, or any combination of these. Mental illness is a broad term that encompasses various disorders like depression, schizophrenia, Autism etc
Along with personality disorders mental illness also constitutes learning disabilities, neurological disorders, developmental disorders, eating disorders etc.
Symptoms of Mental Illness
As we now know mental illness covers a wide range of disorders so each disorder has its own unique symptoms. However, a few initial concerning symptoms to look for are
- Suicidal or extreme negative thinking- People suffering from mental illnesses are usually more negative and suicidal in their conversations. They seem more upset than usual on most days.
- Inability to cope with daily life stressors- Patients often lose their ability to deal with daily life problems. Their problem solving, rational thinking and derivative reasonings are hampered to a great extent.
- Withdrawal, anger issues– Such people often avoid social situations and are angry when put in one. They withdraw themselves from their friends and family members. Such people should be taken extra care even if they push you.
- Heightened fears, extreme mood swings- People suffering from mental illness are noted to get frightened easily and their mood varies from extreme highs to extreme lows.
- Sleep and appetite changes- An abrupt change in sleep or appetite patterns can also sometimes hint towards a developing mental illness.
- Highly sensitive– Such people become more vulnerable and sensitive to others view of themselves. They react quickly and are more volatile.
- Decreased functioning quality- Patients of mental illness are often unable to function in their day to day life. Their productivity, organization skills etc decreases.
Mental illnesses can occur due to a wide variety of reasons or a complicated interaction of all. Socio- environmental factors, past experiences, development, functioning of neurotransmitters etc play a huge role in determining a person’s state of mind. People with a family history, stressful home or work environment are more susceptible to these problems and must take extra care for themselves.
What are Personality Disorders?
After having a brief information about what mental illness is, we can figure out what is the meaning of personality disorders. It is important to note that personality disorder is a category under mental illness.
According to APA, Personality disorder is a group of disorders involving pervasive patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and the self that interfere with long-term functioning of the individual. They consist of enduring pathological patterns which can persist from adolescence till the demise of the individual. Common personality disorders include Bipolar disorder, Borderline personality disorder, OCD, Split personality disorder etc.
Symptoms of personality disorders
The symptoms of personality disorders vary from disorder to disorder. For eg a paranoid personality will showcase symptoms of irrational suspicions, mood swings while a narcissistic personality will be more self-conscious, self centred etc. However, a few symptoms that are common to most include
- Abnormal thinking and behavior patterns– People with a personality disorder will show signs of weird and unusual thinking and behaviour. They do not conform to social norms and their body language is also quite different from the rest.
- Disturbed social relationships– Patients of personality disorder are not able to maintain healthy relationships and often withdraw themselves from their loved ones.
- Anxiety– High levels of anxiety can also point towards a personality disorder. However, everyone with anxiety problems is not likely to have a personality disorder too.
- Alternating moods and behavior- People with personality disorder seem to be confused and switching their personality roles. They modify their behaviour and they are inconsistent with their thoughts.
- Reduced concentration– Drop in concentration and attention levels is also seen as a warning sign and symptom of personality disorder among people.
The exact cause of personality disorders is still unknown. However, research has shown that childhood experiences and genes play a crucial role in this.
Key differences to take away
It must be a little clear as to what are the exact differences between personality disorder and mental illnesses. Mental illness encompasses a huge variety of disorders and syndromes while personality disorders are merely a part of that huge group. While both of them require special treatments and therapies, their symptoms could vary largely. Both of them can develop at any stage of life. However, mental illnesses related to development or neurological problems can be detected at an early age. If we talk fundamentally, clinical psychologists have differentiated mental illnesses and personality disorders on various grounds, major ones being their symptoms, causes, treatment etc.
It is utmost important that you pay heed to your mental well being and take necessary steps that promote it. If you face any unusual signs or triggers for a prolonged period of time, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Furthermore, if you notice any such symptoms in people around you, then also you must take them for guidance and help.Add to favorites