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Top difference between a personality disorder vs other mental health issues

One of the more common questions when discussing personality disorders is why can’t they just take medicine to make them better, like someone with Bipolar or depression. That is a tough one to answer. You need to understand a bit of how personality disorders are different than other mental health issues.

A basic definition of each is:

  • mental illness – is mostly looked at as an illness of the mind, many times a physical problem which could be body chemistry.
  • personality disorder – has a pattern throughout life of behavior that is viewed as not normal by society

You need to understand that personality disorders are mainly defined in how the individual deals with and interacts with others and how they deal with and experience emotions. There are 3 different clusters of personality disorders. 

  • Type A: how the individual relates to others, often regarded as odd
  • Type B: the individual can’t regulate their moods
  • Type C: fear and anxiety dominate their lives

I am not a psychologist, but these are taken from the actual definitions that are used to identify mental health issues. Basically, someone with a personality disorder has these internal differences in how they relate to others and deal with their moods, whereas other mental health issues aren’t necessarily prevalent all the time and may have episodes of being more prevalent.

Many times, the signs and patterns of a personality disorder can be seen throughout life, including at childhood. Mental illnesses are not usually diagnosed in early childhood.

The actions and patterns of someone with a personality disorder are extreme compared to the ‘norm’. The actions are usually very inflexible and the person won’t change, no matter the negative consequences. Again, this can usually be seen in childhood. Other mental health issues develop later and have some physical component.

It’s that physical part that makes other mental health issues treatable by medicine. If there is a chemical problem in the brain, many times it can be treated with medicine – at least to some extent. Since personality disorders aren’t manifested due to a physical problem they can’t be treated the same way.

It is much harder to identify and define a personality disorder without seeing the patterns. The individual, many times, can cover up and adjust their actions. It also is easier to misdiagnose a personality disorder. Since it is harder to diagnose and it’s easier to misdiagnose, many professionals don’t want to diagnose someone as having a personality disorder as that can lead to lawsuits and problems for their practice.

What this ultimately means if you are divorcing someone that you think has a personality disorder is that you may be fighting an uphill battle. During a hurricane. While pulling a train car loaded with iron ore. And you have a splinter in your foot.

Keep that in mind when talking to your lawyer, mediator and in court. They won’t really listen, won’t believe you and won’t do anything about most of the problems you are dealing with. Again, that is why it is vital to keep track of things and write everything down.

If you would like to print out some handy pages that let you keep track of any communication with the ex and show that pattern, download them here.

You can also purchase the complete Co-Parenting Journal.

One of the best tools you can use is Our Family Wizard This was a lifesaver during my divorce. You can send all emails, use a shared calendar and track all expenses and payments.

These other articles may be useful for you also:

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