Personality is a very fluid idea. Often times, our actions or reactions are blamed on our personality. “That’s just how they are.” But personality is actually developed through the situations and environments we experience during adolescence. Our personality is affected by our temperament and our character. The APA defines personality as, “individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving”. Personality can also be defined as a set of traits or characteristics that uniquely influence a person’s behaviors and thoughts is various situations.

Personality evolves over time. It does not remain stagnant. Our behaviors and traits are influenced by our life experiences and relationships. Personality traits are also reinforced by our experiences. In many ways an unhealthy personality trait can be reaffirmed when a life event doesn’t go as planned. However, in this way you may also be committing a self-fulfilling prophecy. A self-fulfilling prophecy is when a person unintentionally and/or unconsciously fulfills a preconceived notion or idea, whether it be positive or negative. The only experience I have ever had with self-fulfilling prophecies have been negative.

There are also illnesses regarding personality. These of course, would be considered personality disorders. A person can have certain individual traits of a disorder without having the disorder. A personality disorder is defined as “a pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are consistently exhibited over a long period of time and create emotional and mental distress”. Personality disorders exist on a continuum from mild to severe, but left untreated it can reduce a person’s quality of life. Personality disorders can also be considered ‘fatal flaws’.

Personality disorders are grouped into three clusters based on their similarities and symptoms. Cluster A disorders are considered odd or eccentric behavior. This would include schizoid or paranoid personalities. Cluster B disorders are dramatic, emotional or erratic behavior. This would include narcissistic or histrionic personalities. Cluster C disorders are considered anxious and fearful behavior. This would include avoidant, dependent or OCD personalities.

In the next post I will be discussing the various personality disorders within their clusters, their traits and how they are diagnosed. Please remember that even if you display some of these traits, that does not mean that you have a personality disorder. No one is perfect.

  1. American Psychological Association
  2. Mind for Better Mental Health

Depression: A Clinical Definition

To have a better understanding of depression, you need to understand the medical definition as well as how it relates to a depressed person.

Depression, as defined by Mayo Clinic, “is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depression, major depression disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and believe and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.”₁

While this is the definition Mayo Clinic, NAMI₂ and various other institutions use to describe depression; the easiest and most forthright definition is that depression is a disease.

Let me repeat that.

Depression is a disease.

And like many diseases, depression can be fatal. Of course, it doesn’t have to be. With proper treatment, depression can be managed. Many depressives may only experience one episode or can even go into remission.

The best way to recognize depression in a person, or in yourself, is to know the symptoms.

Depression signs and symptoms vary from person to person, but they can include:

  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, such as sex
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so that even small tasks take extra effort
  • Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness — for example, excessive worrying, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that are not your responsibility
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness or unhappiness
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs

The thing to remember, is that everyone is different and each person experiences depression in their own way. My next post, will be about my beginnings with depression. It is important to differentiate between the clinical definition of depressive and the life a depressive person, lives. Although the definition explains the symptoms, depression is a complicated disease that is caused by genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors.

I’m hoping this clinical definition will give you a better understanding of depression as I take you through my life as a mentally ill, depressed person.

For more information view this video on The Science of Depression.

  1. Mayo Clinic
  2. NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Health