A mood disorder is a mental health condition that primarily affects your emotional state. It’s a disorder in which you experience long periods of extreme happiness, extreme sadness or both. Certain mood disorders involve other persistent emotions, such as anger and irritability.
It’s normal for your mood to change, depending on the situation. However, for a mood disorder diagnosis, symptoms must be present for several weeks or longer. Mood disorders can cause changes in your behavior and can affect your ability to perform routine activities, such as work or school.
Two of the most common mood disorders are depression and bipolar disorder.
What are all mood disorders?
Mood disorders include:
- Depression and its subtypes.
- Bipolar disorder and its subtypes.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
- Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.
What are the symptoms of mood disorders?
Each mood disorder has different symptoms and/or different patterns of symptoms.
Mood disorders typically have symptoms that affect your mood, sleep, eating behaviors, energy level and thinking abilities (such as racing thoughts or loss of concentration).
In general, depressive symptoms include:
- Feeling sad most of the time or nearly every day.
- A lack of energy or feeling sluggish.
- Feeling worthless or hopeless.
- Loss of interest in activities that formerly brought enjoyment.
- Thoughts about death or suicide.
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing.
- Sleeping too much or not enough.
- Loss of appetite or overeating.
In general, symptoms of hypomanic or manic episodes include:
- Feeling extremely energized or elated.
- Rapid speech or movement.
- Agitation, restlessness or irritability.
- Risk-taking behavior, such as spending more money than usual or driving recklessly.
- Racing thoughts.
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping.
Cause and Effect of Mood Disorders
What causes mood disorders? Researchers and medical professionals do not have a pinpointed answer for this question, but believe both biological and environmental factors are at play. If your family history includes individuals who have been diagnosed with mood disorders, your likelihood of experiencing them, while still low overall, is increased. Traumatic life events are also considered culprits of the onset of mood disorders as well. Mood disorders can negatively impact your work life and school life and intrude on your personal relationships. In some cases, medications and substance abuse can be the cause behind your disorder.
Mood disorders are treated primarily through medications and psychotherapy. Even with treatment though, it is not uncommon for mood disorders to persist throughout a lifetime or to come and go on occasion. Education about mood disorders help individuals suffering from these conditions recognize patterns of behavior and thought that are indicative of a mood disorder resurfacing – and prompt them to seek additional treatment.
Typically, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are prescribed to individuals coping with mood disorders to alleviate emotional distress. Even with medications though, most mental health providers recommend them in combination with psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is focused on changing thought patterns and behaviors. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often considered the benchmark therapy treatment for individuals living with mood disorders. It has been found to have significant positive treatment effects, and in some cases, psychotherapy alone is enough to treat a mood disorder.
Some mood disorders, such as bipolar depression, are usually treated with lifelong medication of mood stabilizers combined with psychotherapy. In addition, the severity of some mood disorders may cause hospitalization, especially if the affected individuals has tried to inflict harm on themselves or others or have thoughts or attempted suicide.