What you need to know about Mood Disorder

What is a mood disorder?

A mood disorder is a mental health condition that affects a person’s emotional state. In this a person experiences long periods of extreme happiness, extreme sadness, or both.

It is normal to have mood swings depending on the situation. In order to be diagnosed with a mood disorder, symptoms must persist for several weeks or longer. Mood disorders can lead to changes in your behavior and can affect your performance at work or school.

Types of Mood Disorder

The common types of mood disorders are depression and bipolar disorder.

Depression (major or clinical depression): Depression is a common mental disorder. Grief is a typical response to a tragic life event or crisis, such as the death of a spouse or family member, loss of a job, or a major illness. If the depression continues to be present even when stressful events are over or there is no apparent cause, physicians would then classify the depression as clinical or major depression. For a person to be diagnosed with clinical depression, symptoms must be there for at least two weeks.

There are several different types of depression. Symptoms vary depending on the form of the disorder.

  • Postpartum depression : Postpartum depression occurs during pregnancy or after delivery
  • Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) : Persistent depressive disorder is a chronic form of depression that can last for at least two years.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Seasonal affective disorder is another type of depression that occurs during certain seasons of the year. It begins in the late autumn or early winter and lasts until spring or summer. Though less common SAD episodes may also begin during the late spring or summer. Symptoms of winter seasonal affective disorder are similar to those of a major depression. They tend to lessen during spring and summer.
  • Psychotic depression : Psychotic depression is a type of severe depression combined with psychotic episodes, such as hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that others do not) or delusions (having fixed but false beliefs). This is related to a medical condition, medication, or substance abuse

Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder): Bipolar disorder is the transition in mood from periods of depression to mania. When someone is going through a low mood, symptoms may resemble those of a clinical depression. Depressive episodes usually alternate with manic episodes. During a manic episode, a person may either feel elated or feel irritable.

Basic types of bipolar disorder are:

  • Bipolar I - Bipolar I disorder is the most severe form amongst the four bipolar disorders. Manic episodes exist for at least a week and may be severe enough to require hospitalization.
  • Bipolar II disorder - Bipolar II disorder causes cycles of depression similar to those of bipolar I. A person with Bipolar II disorder experiences hypomania, which is a less severe form of mania.
  • Cyclothymia disorder (cyclothymia) - Cyclothymia disorder has sometimes been defined as a milder form of bipolar disorder. People diagnosed with cyclothymia have continuous irregular mood swings ranging from mild to moderate emotional “highs” to mild to moderate “lows” for long periods of time.
  • “Other” or “unspecified” bipolar disorder - Symptoms of unspecified type of bipolar disorder do not meet the criteria for the above mentioned types but results in abnormal changes in mood.

What are the symptoms of common mood disorders?

Symptoms of major depression may include:

  • Feeling sad most part of the day
  • Lack of energy or feeling sluggish
  • Feeling worthless or hopeless
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Gaining weight or losing weight
  • Loss of interest in pursuing hobbies
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Frequent thoughts about death or suicide
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing

Symptoms of bipolar disorder may include depression as well as mania. Symptoms of hypomanic or manic episodes are:

  • Feeling extremely energized or elated
  • Rapid speech or movement
  • Agitation, restlessness, or irritability
  • Risk-taking behavior, such as spending too much money or driving carelessly
  • Suddenly trying to do too many things at once
  • Racing thoughts
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping
Fluctuation of thoughts & emotions are common in mood disorder
Mood swings are a common occurance in people who have this issue

What causes mood disorders?

There are several underlying factors, depending on the type of the disorder. Different genetic, biological, environmental, and other factors are associated with mood disorders.

Risk factors include:

  • Family history
  • Previous diagnosis of a mood disorder
  • Trauma, stress or major life changing events in the case of depression
  • Physical illness or use of certain medications. Depression has been linked to cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and heart disease.
  • Brain structure and function if it is the case of bipolar disorder

How are mood disorders diagnosed?

Your doctor may ask to get a physical evaluation done to rule out physiological causes for symptoms if any, such as a thyroid problem, other illnesses, or a vitamin deficiency. The doctor will ask about your medical history, ongoing medications and whether you or any family members have been diagnosed with a mood disorder. Your therapist will conduct an interview or survey to learn about your symptoms, sleeping and eating habits, and other behavior.

How are mood disorders treated?

Treatment depends on the specific illness and symptoms that are present. Therapy includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Common treatments for mood disorders include:

  • Antidepressant medications to improve moods
  • Antipsychotic medications in case of treating disordered thought patterns and altered perceptions
  • CBT to work on thought patterns and behavior
  • Family therapy to help gather support and understanding
  • Group therapy
  • Getting hospitalized for coexisting medical problems, other complications, severe disorders, or substance abuse
  • Identification and treatment of coexisting conditions
  • Individual therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy to discover and understand your past issues and their impact to current thoughts and behaviors

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