Personality, mood and anxiety disorders show relevant overlaps because they have similar symptoms. For instance, anxiety is accompanied my certain mood disorders. The disorders therefore do not have major differences.
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However, there are slight differences between personality disorders such as OCD and anxiety disorders. Social phobia and avoidant personality disorder have some common characteristics. The process of combining symptoms leads to wrong diagnosis of diseases. This mostly occurs to individuals with mood and generalized anxiety disorders.
Researchers often try to give a detailed explanation of anxiety and mood disorders in terms of their nature. Their research is driven by problems of taxonomy such as heterogeneity and comorbidity. Comorbidity is a situation where individuals show signs of different disorders at the same time.
The condition is caused by overlap of hypothesized elements that are considered distinct. Comorbidity therefore increases prevalence of discriminant validity when many people are affected. Although personality disorders sometimes overlap or show differences that are not clear, they are usually differentiated through three distinct methods.
The first method is used to distinguish personality disorders from anxiety and mood disorders and involves analysis of ego-syntonic features present, chronic causes and early onset of the disorders. Ego-syntonic features are elements that do not change their consistency with regard to identity of an individual.
The second method is used to distinguish anxiety disorders from depressive conditions by observing real symptoms, events and childhood characteristics. In addition, personality characteristics, indicators of differential outcome and genetic models are observed.
The third method distinguishes mood disorders from other disorders through specific methods. The diagnosis is done by observing physical impacts of medical conditions like stroke. In addition, the method focuses on the history of patients and related laboratory results or physical examination.