Personality disorder and mental illness: What’s the difference?

Personality disorder is a type of mental illness that impairs the functionality of a person in society and in intimate relationships.
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Grace Bains Published: 8 Oct 2021, 11:59 am IST
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So many people across the world are suffering from various mental health ailments. Causes for such ailments range from toxic familial and societal relationships, economic hardships, genetic disposition, to psychological factors. One such ailment is personality disorders, which impacts a person’s personal and societal functionality.

To better understand the difference between personality disorders and mental illness, we spoke to Dr Samir Parikh, Director, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare.

personality disorders
Personality disorders are a type of mental illness. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
How is personality disorder different from a mental illness?

Dr Parikh stated that when you refer to mental health ailments, it will consist of disorders such as depression and anxiety. Personality disorders are a category within the sub-group of mental ailments. He said that what happens is that you are looking at an individual with a problem that has an enduring pattern.

The symptoms to look out for include prolonged depressive episodes, lethargy, sudden mood changes, increased withdrawal from society, impairment of relationships, and unreasonable paranoia.

Features of personality disorder

With personality disorders, come sudden changes in behaviour and thought, said the expert.

Personality impairment: A person may experience personality impairment, which impacts self and interpersonal functionality.

Pathological traits: A person will exhibit pathological traits such as impaired self-identity, lack of empathy, and intimacy. These traits can adversely impact social functionality and create self-doubt in the mind of the patient.

personality disorders
If you think you have a mental health disorder, seek help. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

These features are prevalent amongst personality disorder patients, and each type of personality disorder has a defining characteristic associated with it. A few common types of personality disorder include:

Paranoid personality disorder: Includes general suspicion that everyone is out to disrespect or harm them

Schizoid personality disorder: The patient avoids social interactions at all costs.

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Antisocial personality disorder: The person develops a heightened disregard for the feelings of others.

Borderline personality disorder: One may experience unstable emotions and mood swings.

According to Dr Parih, personality disorder consists of a stable pattern of pathological behaviour which goes on for long durations of time, and can typically be traced back to adolescence years. and personality traits that impair functionality.

So, ladies, be mindful of these features and symptoms and consult a medical professional to seek help if required.

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About the Author

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book. ...Read More

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