Comparing Mood Disorder vs. Personality Disorder

When it comes to mental health, there are a lot of terms thrown around that can be confusing for people who are not familiar with them. For instance, mood disorders and personality disorders are two of the most misinterpreted and stigmatized groups of mental disorders.

What is their meaning in psychology? How do they differ from each other? Learn about mood disorder vs. personality disorder in our blog post and find all the answers.

Learn in This Article

  • What Are Mood Disorders
  • Types of Mood Disorders
  • What Are Personality Disorders
    • Cluster A
    • Cluster B
    • Cluster C
  • What Is the Difference Between Mood Disorders and Personality Disorders
  • Treatment for Mood Disorders and Personality Disorders

What Are Mood Disorders

Many therapists define mood disorders as affective disorders, as this group of mental health issues can highly affect a person’s mood or behavior. These changes can be either short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic).

Mood disorders can range from mild to severe, and they can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to function in their day-to-day life.

Types of Mood Disorders

If you are affected by some form of mood disorder, you might experience extreme changes in your emotional state. When it comes to determining mood disorders, here is a list of the most common ones.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder is a mood disorder that can cause a person to feel persistently sad or “blue.” If you are struggling with major depressive disorder, you may also experience considerable changes in sleep and appetite. 

Contrary to what most people believe, depression is not something you can just snap out of. As with any other mental disorder, depression also takes long-term treatment to feel better.

Bipolar Disorder

Formerly known as manic depression, bipolar disorder can cause a person to experience extreme shifts in their mood and energy levels.

In fact, people with bipolar disorder may swing from feeling extremely happy and energized (or “up”) to feeling very sad, indifferent, and hopeless (or “down”) and back again. Less severe manic episodes are known as hypomania.


Dysthymia, also known as persistent depressive disorder, can make one feel persistently sad or down for years. Similar to major depressive disorder, people who suffer from dysthymia may have trouble sleeping, eating, and losing interest in daily activities overall.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder, SAD for short, is often related to changing your mood according to the seasons. People with SAD may experience symptoms of depression during the winter months when there is less sunlight.

What Are Personality Disorders

Even for most professionals, it’s not easy to tell apart or define personality disorders. Generally, personality disorders are often portrayed as a way of feeling, thinking, and behaving that differs from the expectations of society, causing distress and issues that last for a long time.

Types of Personality Disorders

Recent studies have shown that 10–13% of the global population suffer from some form of personality disorder. Although this might sound like a lot, it’s important to remember that not all personality disorders are alike.

In fact, when thinking about personality disorder types, the DSM-5 has separated them into three clusters.

Cluster A: Odd and Eccentric Thinking and Behavior

Paranoid Personality Disorder

People with paranoid personality disorder tend to be extremely distrustful and suspicious of others. They may think that people are out to get them, harm them, or threaten them, even when there is no evidence to support this belief.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

Schizoid personality disorder is a mental health condition that makes it difficult for people to take part in social events. People with schizoid PD tend to be emotionally distant and detached from others. They may prefer to be alone and have little interest in having interactions or relationships.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

This mental health issue is often associated with people that have odd and eccentric behaviors. Troubled relationships, disturbed thought processes and ideas, and bizarre physical appearance are also common patterns for people diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder.

Cluster B: Unpredictable Thinking and Behavior

Borderline Personality Disorder

Because of its extreme mood swings, borderline personality disorder is often misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder.

Additionally, people diagnosed with BPD tend to be highly impulsive or reckless when making decisions. They might also encounter self-image issues, fear of abandonment, and a pattern of unstable relationships.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

While putting yourself first is necessary, people with narcissistic personality disorder take this concept to a whole new level. In fact, narcissists tend to be fixated on their own appearance and success. On top of that, they may need constant admiration from others and have a sense of entitlement. However, individuals with NPD don’t feel any sympathy or empathy towards others, leading them to have troubled relationships.

Learn more about how NPD and BPD are different (and how they’re similar).

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Individuals with antisocial personality disorder tend to be deceitful, callous, and manipulative. They may also be impulsive, aggressive, and disregard rules or laws.

People often associate the terms psychopathy and sociopathy with an antisocial personality disorder. However, not all people with ASPD are classified as either sociopaths or psychopaths.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Last but not least, a histrionic personality disorder is often associated with people that tend to be overly emotional and dramatic. 

For instance, a person diagnosed with HPD tends to dress inappropriately and exhibit an overly flirtatious approach. In addition to that, they exaggerate their expressions, often lacking sincerity.

Cluster C: Anxious and Fearful Thinking and Behavior

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder tend to be perfectionists, orderly, and neat. This behavior might be damaging when people with OCPD impose their thinking and standards on everyone else.

Dependent Personality Disorder

A dependent personality disorder is often seen in people that are extremely needy and clingy. They may fail even to make the simplest decision and take care of themselves.

Moreover, their lack of self-reliance and confidence causes them to go to great lengths to please others.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Feelings of shyness, inadequacy, and anxiety are common symptoms among plenty of mental health conditions.

However, a person with an avoidant personality disorder might be highly sensitive to criticism or rejected by others. For this reason, they tend to avoid interacting with other people.

What Is the Difference Between Mood Disorders and Personality Disorders

It’s not a surprise that mood disorders and personality disorders are often confused, misinterpreted, or used interchangeably.

While both of these groups involve mood changes, there is a key difference that shouldn’t be overlooked. Mood disorders are primarily centered on people’s feelings. On the other hand, personality disorders are more focused on how they interact or relate to others.

Another factor to take into consideration is duration. Mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder, include specific periods of time a person experiences persistent changes in their mood.

However, personality disorders involve long-standing patterns of dysfunctional thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Treatment for Mood Disorders and Personality Disorders

Treatment for mood disorders and personality disorders often consists of a combination of antidepressants and mood-stabilizing medication and psychotherapy.

Medication can help stabilize mood swings and minimize impulsive behaviors, while psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, can help people cope with their symptoms.

Mood Disorder vs. Personality Disorder: Key Takeaways

Because of how similar the symptoms are, many professionals fail to diagnose mood disorders and personality disorders correctly. If given the wrong treatment or left undiagnosed, these mental health conditions can worsen over time. Not to mention, the risks of substance abuse, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts can amplify.

So, if you think you or someone you know may be suffering from a mood disorder or personality disorder, it is crucial to seek professional help immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is bipolar disorder a mood or personality disorder?

BPD and bipolar disorder share some symptoms, making it difficult to distinguish between the two conditions. Both disorders are characterized by intense mood swings, impulsive behavior, and problems with relationships and work. However, there are some critical differences between BPD and bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder tend to experience more extreme highs and lows, known as mania and depression. In contrast, people with BPD often swing from feeling happy and content to angry and frustrated.

How are personality disorders different from other disorders?

Personality disorders are different from other disorders in a few ways. First, they tend to be more stable over time, meaning that they are less likely to be diagnosed in childhood and more likely to last into adulthood.

Second, they are usually more resistant to treatment than other disorders. This is because personality disorders are often rooted in deeply-held beliefs and ways of thinking that are difficult to change.

Finally, personality disorders can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to function in their everyday life. While other disorders may make it difficult to operate in specific areas of life, personality disorders can negatively affect all areas of life.

Is depression a mood disorder?

When doing a mood disorder vs. personality disorder comparison, it’s safe to say that depression is a mood disorder that can affect people of all ages and from all walks of life. It is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities, and difficulty concentrating. Depression can also cause physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and body aches.

While the cause of depression is not fully understood, it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Treatment for depression typically involves medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.