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Personality / Mood Disorders

At Burning Tree Ranch, we understand that mood and personality disorders can be difficult to navigate. They become even more complex when addiction is involved. When you’re intoxicated or experiencing withdrawal symptoms, symptoms of an underlying mood or personality disorder can be pronounced. Moreover, substances alter your brain chemistry, exacerbating symptoms of such disorders. A personality or mood disorder can also be a clue as to why you keep relapsing. Research shows that traditional substance abuse treatment may not work as well for people with personality disorders as it does for others.

What Are Personality Disorders?

Personality disorders cover a broad range of thoughts, behaviors and moods that deviate from the norm or cultural expectations. Everyone has quirks; personality disorders are diagnosed when those peculiarities follow a particular pattern and interfere with daily functioning.

There are 10 personality disorders, which fall under the following categories:

  • Cluster A – Schizoid and paranoid disorders, which are considered odd/eccentric
  • Cluster B – Emotional/erratic disorders, including borderline personality disorder
  • Cluster C – Anxious/fearful disorders, including avoidant and dependent personality disorders

Symptoms vary depending on the cluster. However, there is often a great deal of symptom overlap within each cluster.

The Effects of Personality Disorders

Your personality involves the ways that you think about yourself, relate to others and respond to emotions and events. Your personality may evolve over time. However, it’s generally fairly predictable.

If you have a personality disorder, certain aspects of your behavior and attitude may be excessive. For example, someone with borderline personality disorder tends to think in black-and-white extremes and have trouble accepting a balanced perspective. Individuals with avoidant personality disorder are so preoccupied with being judged or rejected that they may avoid social situations completely.

These personality traits guide the way that you act.

In some cases, personality disorders cloud your judgment. For example, someone with narcissistic personality disorder may consume large amounts of drugs because they think that they’re invincible. Many people with these conditions turn to drug and alcohol abuse to escape their troubles, reduce inhibitions or numb strong emotions.

Treating Personality Disorders With Addiction

Up to 75% of people who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse may have a personality disorder. The most common personality disorders that co-occur with addiction are borderline and antisocial. Both of these conditions fall under cluster B.

People with these disorders may be hesitant to seek treatment for many reasons. Perhaps they don’t want to fail. Maybe they don’t get along with people, including therapists.

It’s important for mental health professionals to identify symptoms of personality disorders so that they can help individuals access the most effective treatment. At Burning Tree Ranch, clients and their therapists have plenty of time to get to know each other and work together. This allows them to explore the best methods for treating both their personality and substance abuse disorders.

What Is a Mood Disorder?

A mood disorder is a mental health condition that is associated with shifts in your attitude, temperament and disposition. Some examples of a mood disorder include:

For many people, mood disorder symptoms can bring them down into an emotional low period for several days, months, weeks or years. Some patients who suffer from mood disorders may experience high periods, during which they may feel extremely happy, motivated and excited. However, these extreme highs can also be characterized by irritability, agitation and recklessness.

Everyone feels sad sometimes. We all have moments of emotional fluctuations. But for someone with a mood disorder, the extremes feel debilitating and difficult to control.

Not all people with a mood disorder cycle from highs to lows. With a mood disorder such as depression, you may feel down for a significant amount of time without coming out into a “normal” or “high” period. However, a mood disorder such as bipolar disorder can make you feel emotionally unstable as your mental state fluctuates.

Substance-Induced Mood Disorders

A mood disorder can be caused by genetics, traumatic events and chemical imbalances in the brain. The condition may also be set off by substance abuse. A substance-induced mood disorder can arise from the consumption of legal, prescription, illicit or recreational drugs. Alcohol, cocaine and opioids are the substances that are most commonly associated with mood disorders.

Mood Disorder Treatment

At Burning Tree Ranch, we understand that sobriety doesn’t instantly correct a mood disorder that develops from substance abuse. Eliminating the drugs from your system is the first step toward feeling better. However, most people need to learn how to manage a lifestyle without drugs. You’ll need to develop new coping strategies for stress and other intense emotions.

Regardless of the cause of your mood disorder, treatment can help. Medications can ease withdrawal symptoms as you detox from substances and balance the brain chemicals that influence your mood disorder. Therapy helps you uncover and change underlying beliefs and attitudes that contribute to the condition.

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LMSW, LCDC | Counselor
Kristina Robertson serves as Counselor at Burning Tree Ranch. Holding both a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Social Work, Kristina’s greatest joy is “watching our clients learn to love themselves again.” An avid equestrian, mother to twenty-one horses, and all-around animal lover, Kristina serves as a bright shining example of long-term recovery in action. Her commitment to whole person health: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual makes her an invaluable member of the Burning Tree Ranch clinical team. As a distinguished Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Zeta member, Kristina believes deeply in each client’s pursuit of becoming their best selves.

"who is a burning tree client?"

Beth Legacki, Burning Tree Ranch Alumni