Mood, Anxiety & Personality Disorders


Many treatment centers talk about treating mood and personality disorders, but few focus on them as distinct diagnoses. Left unaddressed or undertreated, symptoms may worsen or lead to other problems such as drug or alcohol abuse. Elements Behavioral Health treats both mood disorders and personality disorders as primary issues and as co-occurring issues with substance abuse. Clients have access to a full range of traditional therapies, including psychotherapy, family therapy and medication, as well as alternative and holistic therapies.

Mood Disorders

The most common mood disorders, or affective disorders, are:

Major Depression – This condition is characterized by two or more weeks of hopelessness or irritability, decreased interest in usual activities and other symptoms. It affects women nearly twice as often as men. Most people with major depressive disorder experience their first episode in their mid-20s, though younger people are beginning to report depressive symptoms more frequently than in the past. The earlier depression sets in, the more persistent and severe it tends to be in adulthood.

Dysthymia – Also called dysthymic disorder, this condition involves an ongoing, low-grade depressed mood that lasts at least one year. It often begins in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood.

Bipolar Disorder – Also called manic depression, this disorder involves one or more episodes of depressed mood and one or more periods of mania, or elevated mood.

Some of the most common symptoms of a mood disorder are feelings of sadness, guilt, irritability, hopelessness or inadequacy, changes in appetite, weight or sleep, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, physical complaints, and suicidal thoughts. Substance abuse and certain medical illnesses can trigger symptoms of depression. Similarly, having a mood disorder may put people at greater risk for other conditions such as drug or alcohol abuse and eating disorders. The causes of mood disorders aren’t entirely understood, though the prevailing theories are that genetics, a chemical imbalance in the brain or stressful life events are the root cause.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are mental illnesses characterized by inflexible thought and behavior patterns, difficulty adapting to change, and conflict with self and others. These patterns lead to significant distress and impaired functioning at home, work or school and in relationships.

In general, symptoms of personality disorders include relationship problems, frequent mood swings, social isolation, mistrust of others and outbursts of anger. Symptoms typically emerge in adolescence and continue throughout adulthood, though many people with personality disorders only begin to recognize their symptoms after consulting with a therapist. Like other mental health disorders, personality disorders are likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

There are many types of personality disorders, which are usually grouped into three categories:

Cluster A – Odd or eccentric behavior

  • Paranoid Personality Disorder – As the name implies, people with paranoid personality disorder are distrustful and suspicious of others. Believing others to be disloyal or unfaithful, they tend to be angry, secretive and/or guarded around them.
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder – Distant and withdrawn, people with schizoid personality disorder are consumed by their thoughts and feelings and have difficulty expressing themselves and reading other people’s social cues.
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder – Individuals with schizotypal personality disorder are uncomfortable in social settings and respond indifferently or inappropriately when interacting with others. They may act, dress or think unusually and struggle with paranoia or beliefs that they can read minds or see into the future.

Cluster B – Dramatic, erratic or emotional behavior

  • Borderline Personality Disorder – Instability in mood, relationships, self-image and other areas is characteristic of people with borderline personality disorder. More often diagnosed in women than men, the disorder is also marked by moodiness, impulsivity, attention-seeking, bouts of anger and volatility in relationships.
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder – Power and success are irresistible to people with narcissistic personality disorder. They exaggerate their abilities and achievements in order to garner praise and attention, often at the cost of other people’s feelings as well as their own ability to handle failure.
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder – People with antisocial personality disorder don’t live by normal rules of behavior. They tend to be callous and irresponsible and feel little to no remorse for hurting others, which may result in violence and/or legal problems.

Cluster C – Anxious, fearful behavior

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder – Not to be confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder, an anxiety disorder, this personality disorder is associated with extreme perfectionism, inflexibility and a need to be in control. Although orderly and reliable, people with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are never satisfied and have difficulty adapting to change.
  • Dependent Personality Disorder – People with dependent personality disorder are excessively dependent and submissive, relying heavily on others for reassurance and guidance on making decisions. With a strong fear of being alone or rejected, these individuals have difficulty taking criticism or coping when a relationship ends, and may stay in an unhealthy or abusive relationship.
  • Avoidant Personality Disorder – Difficulty relating to others is a key element of avoidant personality disorder. These individuals are hypersensitive to criticism and disapproval, and are extremely shy in social situations.

Mood and personality disorders can make it difficult to enjoy life to its fullest. But these mental health issues are highly treatable. At Elements’ mental health treatment centers, we work with you to develop the skills and resilience to redefine your life.


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