What are Mood Disorders?
Mood disorders also referred to as affective disorders, are conditions that severely impact mood and its related functions. Mood disorder is a broad term that’s used to include all the different types of depressive and bipolar disorders, both of which affect mood. If you have symptoms of a mood disorder, your moods may range from extremely low (depressed) to extremely high or irritable (manic).
With the update of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) in 2013, mood disorders are now separated into two groups: bipolar disorder and related disorders and depressive disorders. In general, the main types of mood disorders include:
- Major depressive disorder: This is what we often hear referred to as major depression or clinical depression. It involves periods of extreme sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness accompanied by a variety of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms.
- Bipolar I disorder: This disorder was formerly called “manic depression,” Mania is characterized by euphoric and/or irritable moods and increased energy or activity. During manic episodes, people with bipolar I also regularly engage in activities that can result in painful consequences for themselves and/or others.
- Bipolar II disorder: To be diagnosed with bipolar II, a person must have had at least one episode of current or past hypomania (a less severe form of mania), and at least one episode of current or past major depression, but no history of any manic episodes. The criteria for episodes of mania, hypomania, and major depression remain the same.
- Cyclothymic disorder: Diagnosis requires a minimum two-year history of many episodes of not-quite hypomania and not-quite major depression.
- Other: There are other categories of mood disorders that include substance/medication and medically induced mood disorders. There are also “other specified” and “unspecified” mood disorders that don’t exactly meet criteria for the other mood disorders.
New Mood Disorders
There are three new depressive disorders included in the DSM-V.
- Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder: This depressive disorder was added to the DSM-V for children up to 18 years of age who exhibit persistent irritability and anger and frequent episodes of extreme temper outbursts without any significant provocation.
- Persistent depressive disorder: This diagnosis is meant to include both chronic major depressive disorder that has lasted for two or more years and what was previously known as dysthymic disorder or dysthymia, a lower grade form of depression.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: This diagnosis is based on the presence of one or more specific symptoms in the week before the onset of menstruation, followed by the resolution of these symptoms after onset. The symptoms include mood swings, irritability or anger, depressed mood or hopelessness, and anxiety or tension, as well as one or more of an additional seven symptoms, for a total of at least five symptoms.
Mood disorders can lead to difficulty in keeping up with the daily tasks and demands of life. Some people, especially children, may have physical symptoms of depression, like unexplained headaches or stomachaches. Because there are various types of mood disorders, they can have very different effects on quality of life. In general, symptoms may include:
- Loss of interest in activities one once enjoyed
- Eating more or less than usual
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual
- Feeling “flat,” having no energy to care
- Feeling isolated, sad, hopeless, and worthless
- Difficulty concentrating
- Problems making decisions
- Feelings of guilt
- Thoughts of dying and/or suicide
With mood disorders, these symptoms are ongoing and eventually start to affect daily life in a negative way. They’re not the sporadic thoughts and feelings that everyone has on occasion.
No one knows the exact causes of mood disorders, but a variety of factors seem to contribute to them and they tend to run in families. Chemical imbalances in the brain are the most likely cause. Stressful life events like death, divorce, or trauma can also trigger depression, especially if someone has already had it before or there’s a genetic component.
Who is at risk for mood disorders?
Anyone can feel sad or depressed at times. However, mood disorders are more intense and harder to manage than normal feelings of sadness. Children, teens, or adults who have a parent with a mood disorder have a greater chance of also having a mood disorder. However, life events and stress can expose or worsen feelings of sadness or depression. This makes the feelings harder to manage.
Sometimes, life’s problems can trigger depression. Being fired from a job, getting divorced, losing a loved one, death in the family, and financial trouble, to name a few, all can be difficult, and coping with the pressure may be troublesome. These life events and stress can bring on feelings of sadness or depression or make a mood disorder harder to manage.
The risk of depression in women is nearly twice as high as it is for men. Once a person in the family has this diagnosis, their brothers, sisters, or children have a higher chance of the same diagnosis. In addition, relatives of people with depression are also at increased risk for bipolar disorder.
Once a person in the family has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the chance for their brothers, sisters, or children to have the same diagnosis is increased. Relatives of people with bipolar are also at increased risk for depression.
Mood disorders should be properly evaluated and treated by a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist. If any of the symptoms above have been interfering with your life, particularly if you are having suicidal thoughts, you should seek help immediately. Your doctor will be able to diagnose you by performing a physical exam and lab tests to rule out any physical reasons for your symptoms along with a psychiatric evaluation.
Millions of people experience mood disorders and are successfully treated, helping them live a better quality of life. Treatments for mood disorders can include psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, as well as medications to help regulate chemical imbalances in the brain. A combination of psychotherapy and medication is often the best course of action.
Mood disorders can often be treated with success. Treatment may include:
- Antidepressant and mood stabilizing medicines: especially when combined with psychotherapy have shown to work very well in the treatment of depression
- Psychotherapy: most often cognitive-behavioral and/or interpersonal therapy. This therapy is focused on changing the person’s distorted views of himself or herself and the environment around him or her. It also helps to improve interpersonal relationship skills, and identifying stressors in the environment and how to avoid them
- Family therapy
- Other therapies: such as electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial stimulation
Families play a vital supportive role in any treatment process. When correctly diagnosed and treated, people with mood disorders can live, stable, productive, healthy lives.
Can mood disorders be prevented?
At this time, there are no ways to prevent or reduce the incidence of mood disorders. However, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the severity of symptoms, enhance the person’s normal growth and development, and improve the quality of life of people with mood disorders.
- A mood disorder is a mental health class that health professionals use to broadly describe all types of depression and bipolar disorders.
- The most common types of mood disorders are major depression, dysthymia (dysthymic disorder), bipolar disorder, mood disorder due to a general medical condition, and substance-induced mood disorder.
- There is no clear cause of mood disorders. Healthcare providers think they are a result of chemical imbalances in the brain. Some types of mood disorders seem to run in families, but no genes have yet been linked to them.
- In general, nearly everyone with a mood disorder has ongoing feelings of sadness, and may feel helpless, hopeless, and irritable. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years, and can impact quality of life.
- Depression is most often treated with medicine, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, or a combination of medicine and therapy. In some cases, other therapies, such as electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial stimulation may be used.
Reclaim Your Life From Mood Disorders
Millions of people experience mood disorders and are successfully treated, helping them live a better quality of life. We Level Up California can provide to you, or someone you love, different treatments for the various types of mood disorders. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.