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ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Just how common is it to have multiple mood and/or personality disorders?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (23285 points ) August 20th, 2011

Sometimes when I actually take a moment to reflect on all of my comorbid diagnoses, I realize that simple fact alone makes it seem like a much larger mountain to climb than it may be. Not to downplay the severity that mental illness can get to, including my own, but when I really lay it out it just seems much worse to have it broken up into multiple “disorders.” I find myself frustrated that there is just no way to simplify it with one diagnosis.
I think that I once read that 50% of people with major depressive disorder will also have an anxiety disorder, but what about beyond that? How common is it to have 3, 4, or maybe more?

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9 Answers

athenasgriffin's avatar

I actually don’t know many people who only have one. Perhaps me and my friends are insane, but a lot of people I know will be diagnosed with one disorder and suspect they have another, or suspect they have multiple disorders and are diagnosed for none.

I think if you get diagnosed for one disorder, you are probably seeing a psychiatrist who can possibly notice that you have other disorders over the course of your treatment. Kind of like going in for the first time is half the battle.

Hibernate's avatar

Stress generates a lot of problems today. And it’s not unusual to have at least one disorder. Even those who say they don’t have one really got one lurking around them but they don’t see it to clear. [okay now about going to a doctor for a check up… bear in mind that most will say you suffer from something just so you can become his patient .. some won’t lie but it all these new syndromes/disorders etc it’s not unusual to hear you are suffering from one or even more].

Cruiser's avatar

I agree with @Hibernate and I also think the answer to this question is it is more common than we realize. I once read that 10% of the population is clinically depressed which according to @ANef_is_Enuf‘s data would mean 5% of the collective here is similarly afflicted and would explain a lot! ;))

FluffyChicken's avatar

Very common. Everyone has issues. A diagnosis is simply something that helps find tools to overcome our issues and find our path to happiness. The more diagnoses you have, the easier it is to find those tools.

Seelix's avatar

I don’t know anything about studies or statistics having to do with the topic, first of all.

But I think that many mood disorders kind of open up the door to others, if you know what I mean. The low self-esteem that a depressed person experiences might make it more likely that she’ll worry about what others think, leading to anxiety or panic, which might then lead to agoraphobia. It is kind of a chicken-and-egg thing, though – who knows whether one causes the other or which came first, anyway?

As for the people I know, they tend to have more than one disorder. Depression and anxiety seem, at least to me, to go hand-in-hand a lot of the time.

wundayatta's avatar

A lot of people I know have more than one diagnosis, or have had different diagnoses over the course of their illnesses. I’m pretty boring. I only have one.

However, to a large degree, this is kind of academic. The point of a diagnosis is to help prescribe meds. Do you need a mood stabilizer? Do you need an anti-depressant? Do you need anti-anxiety meds? Anti-seizure meds? Anti-psychotics? Speed (to slow down ADD)?

I know people who are bipolar, borderline personality or schizo-affective, and they all take the same medication. WTF? My shrink tells me that there is a gene that is shared by all the mental illnesses. That’s just one out of many, but still, perhaps the disorders are all different versions of what is essentially the same thing.

The naming of the disorder is partly for diagnostic purposes. The more diagnoses, the better the psychiatrist can sound. They can bash other psychiatrists for not catching it. They can make you so glad you came to them to get the real diagnosis.

It’s bullshit. The prescribing of meds is still the same: hit or miss. It helps to know if you need a mood stabilizer or an anti-psychotic, but half the time the anti-psychotic stabilizes the mood and the mood stabilizer gets rid of the hallucinations. The doctors have no idea what med will work with what person. You just prescribe and hope.

There are currently 268 different combos of meds—just for bipolar disorder. I’ve heard people of going through 30 different combos before finding something that works. I’ve heard of more people who just give up and think the shrinks have no idea what they are doing.

The other thing is that diagnoses are kind of like merit badges. As are hospital stays. They can be a delineation of how sick we are. How difficult our troubles are. And, of course, some people use them as a way of labeling themselves and describing who they are. Who are you? I’m bipolar. Who are you? BPD. Cool. Wanna have lunch?

I think we need to get a little perspective. First of all, as the cliche goes, we are much more than any diagnosis. Second, the doctors can’t deal with these things very precisely. They can get in the ballpark, but from there on in, it’s hit or miss. The point is, we got stuff to deal with, and the diagnosis doesn’t help that much in pinpointing treatment. We know what town we’re in, but not which street, and especially not which house.

So I don’t take the diagnoses that seriously. I take the symptoms seriously. But I know that largely, there are many things we can all do that are not meds but will help. Those things are all the same things. Meds? Like I said. We are all guinea pigs.

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s very common, because the most likely root cause of them all is hormone imbalance. The symptoms are so varied, doctors haven’t been able to isolate them, and there is a different name for each set of symptoms. It doesn’t really mean that much.

As @wundayatta the treatments are varied and totally dependent on the actual type of imbalance each person has, plus the metabolism, size and overall health. It’s mostly trial and error.

Aethelflaed's avatar

From my friend that’s a psychologist: “It’s fairly common. It’s one of the reasons that the DSM 5 is being restructured (hopefully!) around PD.” So, you aren’t the only one who sees this as a problem.

SpatzieLover's avatar

^Agree. It’s is very common for people that are neuro-atypicals to have multiple disorders that are categorized as a syndrome.

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