Are Personality Disorders Different From Mental Illness?

kati morton

Are Personality Disorders Different From Mental Illness?

A personality disorder defined as: a deeply ingrained and maladaptive pattern of behavior of a specified kind, typically manifest by the time one reaches adolescence and causing long-term difficulties in personal relationships or in functioning in society. Without treatment, the behavior and experience is inflexible and usually long-lasting. The pattern is seen in at least two of these areas:


1. Way of thinking about oneself and others
2. Way of responding emotionally
3. Way of relating to other people
4. Way of controlling one’s behavior


Personality disorders are categorized into 3 main groups: 1. Cluster A- which holds the personality disorders that can cause us to act in odd or socially withdrawal. This includes Paranoid PD, Schizoid PD and Schizotypal PD. 2. Cluster B – holds the emotional, erratic or overly dramatic PDs – like Antisocial PD, Borderline, Histrionic PD, and Narcissistic. Cluster C – which holds the more anxious or fearful personality disorder – like Avoidant PD, & Dependent PD.
On the other hand, the term mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions: these are disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior.
Therefore, mental illness is a collective term that refers to around 200 types of mental conditions, which are sub-categorized into 5 main classes: 1) anxiety disorders, 2) mood disorders, 3) psychotic disorders/schizophrenia, 4) eating disorders and 5) dementia.

Among all groups, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness. Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.
In conclusion, a personality disorder is a mental illness, but a very serious one. The reason I say it’s a serious one is because personality disorders are pervasive not episodic. They have been in our lives since we were young, and affect much of our day to day life, not to mention our relationships.


Many people argue that the causes of personality disorders differs from other mental health issues, but I honestly think that’s too tricky a thing to conclude. Different people have different coping skills and resiliency. That’s why siblings can go through the same things and come out very differently. We are all unique, and our mental health is not immune from that. That’s why it’s important that we see a professional, be properly diagnosed and get the treatment that works best for our struggles.


Know that regardless of what you are suffering from, the sooner we reach out for help and get the assistance we need, the better. All mental illnesses benefit from therapy and medication. So find a treatment that works best for you!

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