What Is Mixed Personality Disorder?

Personality Disorders and How Are They Diagnosed

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Definition: Mixed personality disorder refers to a type of personality disorder that does not fall into the ten recognized personality disorders. It is possible for people to have traits or symptoms of more than one personality disorder at the same time, while not meeting criteria for any one of them. In this case of "mixed personality disorder" the diagnosis of Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (NOS) is made, and the traits are listed out.

What Are Personality Disorders?

Most people have a fairly flexible personality that allows them to adapt to a variety of circumstances, people and events. People with personality disorders, instead, get stuck in fairly rigid ways of relating to people and events. It may affect how they think about themselves and the world around them, how they experience emotion, how they function socially, and how well they can control their impulses.

A personality disorder is a chronic and pervasive mental disorder that affects thoughts, behaviors and interpersonal functioning. The DSM-5 recognizes ten distinct personality disorders, which are arranged into three clusters:

Cluster A - Odd, Eccentric Disorders

    Cluster B - Dramatic, Emotional, or Erratic Disorders

    Cluster C – Anxious or Fearful Disorders

    How are Personality Disorders Diagnosed?

    In order to be diagnosed with a personality disorder, an individual must exhibit symptoms that meet the diagnostic criteria established in the DSM-5.

    • These patterns of behavior must be chronic and pervasive, affecting many different aspects of the individual’s life, including social functioning, work, school and close relationships.
    • The individual must exhibit symptoms that affect two or more of the following areas: thoughts, emotions, interpersonal functioning and impulse control.
    • The pattern of behaviors must be stable across time and have an onset that can be traced back to adolescence or early adulthood.
    • These behaviors cannot be explained by any other mental disorders, substance abuse or medical conditions.

    While the DSM-5 retained the DSM-IV's categorical approach to diagnosing personality disorders. However, it developed an alternate model, which is suggests could be an area for future study. Using this alternate, hybrid model, clinicians would assess personality and diagnose a personality disorder based on a combination of specific difficulties in personal functioning, as well as the general patterns of pathological personality traits.

    Differential Diagnosis

    Before a clinician can diagnose a personality disorder, they must rule out other disorders or medical conditions that may be causing the symptoms. The symptoms that characterize personality disorders are often similar to those of other disorders and illnesses. Personality disorders also commonly co-occur with other illnesses.

    The following are potential differentials that must be ruled out before diagnosing an individual with a personality disorder:

    • Substance Abuse
    • Anxiety Disorders
    • Depression
    • Dissociative Disorders
    • Social Phobia
    • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
    • Schizophrenia

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