That's why I say it might be related, because extra plug-ins and extensions are not part of the core program and their appearances can be customized by their makers. It's just a thought though. I've never really seen that happen before and can't think of much else.
100% sure it has nothing to do with windows appearance settings since the panels inside photoshop have zero connection to those settings. more than likely something bugged in photoshop because core extensions that came with photoshop are affected. I have had the problem for more than a year now, just have not tried to fix it until now.
I'll keep looking, worse case I reinstall photoshop.