What is Mixed Personality Disorder?

Reader’s Question

Somewhere between 1995 and 1999 I was diagnosed as having Mixed Personality Disorder, Aggressive Behavior Disorder and Chronic Depression. I was prescribed such medications as Prozac, Paxil, Valium, Zoloft, Serzone and Trazadone. They all helped to some degree, I guess, but I didn’t really feel anything at all. I wasn’t happy or sad, excited or disappointed, angry or content. I just was.

I hated not feeling but I was afraid of everything I did feel when I didn’t take whatever medication was the band-aid of the month for my defects. I’ve shuffled from one job to another both with and without taking the meds. My problem now is that my husband died a little over a year ago and I’ve been forced back into the world that I’ve managed to hide from until recently and I don’t know what I need but I know I need help. Why can’t I find any information on Mixed Personality Disorder? I have no patience, tolerance or time for hours of waiting in some office for some arrogant idiot to offend and irritate me just to set me up with 10 more appointments with 10 different people and no help in the meanwhile.

I feel like a rowboat overloaded with industrial size cargo on board in stormy seas and I’m sinking fast. I’m not asking for some kind of quick fix band-aid help, I just need some facts on my malfaction so I don’t lose what family I have left, a man who means the world to me or myself. Knowledge is power and if I can just jog my memory on some of the exercises that helped calm my anxiety, anger, and anguish then I know I’ll have the strength, the power, to hang in there through those 10 appointments with 10 different people followed by the finance department. Please, please, please, can you share any information on Mixed Personality Disorder?


Cynthia Ann
Tucson, AZ

Psychologist’s Reply

Q: In clinical practice, a person may receive a diagnosis of Personality Disorder. A Personality Disorder is defined as “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture” (DSM-IV). Folks with a Personality Disorder are different in the way they think and view the world, the way they express or process emotions, the way they relate to others, and the way they control their impulses. Ten specific Personality Disorders are diagnosed. People with a Paranoid Personality, for example, are always suspicious/distrustful, jealous, unforgiving, and emotionally cold. Antisocial Personality is often diagnosed in criminals as they consistently violate the rights of others. A diagnosis of Mixed Personality Disorder, the eleventh diagnosis, is often found in people who don’t meet the clear rules for a single personality disorder or who have a “mixed bag” of several personality disorder features.

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What it means in the real world is you may have a long history of having difficulty dealing with others, using judgement, controlling impulses, controlling your emotions, and coping with situations. When a Personality Disorder of any type is present it makes coping with a life situation (death, divorce, loss of job, etc.) very difficult. You can research personality disorders by an Google search for information on each personality diagnosis. [Editor’s Note: This site also has some information on personality disorders, as well as acting as the archive for hundreds of resources collated by the now-defunct Personality Disorders Foundation at the University of Connecticut.]

The death of a spouse is the number one stressor for adults. It creates severe changes and social stresses. My advice would be to first seek mental health help in dealing with the depression, anxiety, grief, and bereavement that is associated with your loss. Personality disorders do hinder and complicate mental health treatment due to the lack of patience, irritibility, and tendency to manipulate. Keep in mind that depression and anxiety exaggerate whatever personality we already have. If you are normally impulsive and easily irritated, that will now be worse. Getting those behaviors calmed down, maybe with medication, is the best way to eventually help the situation. The goal is to recover from your situation without letting Personality Disorder symptoms get in the way.

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