A mood disorder is a mental disorder that primarily affects an individual’s emotional state. It is a disorder during which an individual experiences longer periods of extreme happiness, extreme sadness, or both. It is normal for one’s mood to change depending on the situation, but having a mood disorder means that the symptoms for the same may be present for several weeks or even longer. Mood disorders can cause changes in one’s behavior and can affect their ability to deal with routine activities, such as work or school.
TYPES OF MOOD DISORDERS
Symptoms of mood disorders vary according to the mood disorder that is present.
Depression is the most common mood disorder. Sadness or decreased pleasure is a normal response to the body when subjected to grief or a traumatic life event or crisis, i.e., death of a spouse, loss of a job, or major illness. However, when depression continues to persist, even when stressful events are over or with no apparent cause, it may be a sign of clinical depression, also called Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
Symptoms of major depression may include:
- Feeling sad most of the time or nearly every day.
- Lack of energy or feeling sluggish.
- Feelings of being worthless or hopeless.
- Loss of appetite or excessive eating.
- Gain or loss of weight.
- Loss of interest in activities that one formerly used to enjoy.
- Sleeping too much or not enough.
- Frequent thoughts about death or suicide.
- Difficulty concentrating or focussing.
Sometimes depression is specified by the circumstances or different features:
- Postpartum or perinatal depression – This type of depression occurs during pregnancy or right after delivery.
- Persistent depressive disorder – This is a chronic form of depression that can last for at least two years. Symptoms of such may reduce occasionally in severity during this time but they never fully go away.
- Seasonal affective disorder – This is another type of depression that occurs during certain seasons of the year. It typically starts in the late autumn or early winter and lasts until spring or summer. Less commonly, SAD episodes may begin during the late spring or summer. Symptoms of winter seasonal affective disorder may resemble those of major depression. They tend to disappear or decrease during spring and summer.
- Psychotic depression – This is a type of severe depression combined with psychotic episodes, such as hallucinations or delusions.
- Depression related to a medical condition, medication, or substance abuse.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by swings in mood from depression to mania or hypomania. When someone experiences a low mood, symptoms may resemble those of clinical depression. Depression episodes alternate with hypo/manic episodes, but there may be periods of stable mood between episodes and sometimes people experience “mixed” episodes with both depressive and manic symptoms. During a manic episode, a person may feel elated, irritable or both. They typically have increased levels of activity.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder may include both depression and mania.
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 too much money or driving recklessly.
- Unusual increase in activity or trying to do too many things at once
- Racing thoughts
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Feeling jumpy or on edge for no apparent reason.
Types of Bipolar Disorder include:
- Bipolar 1 disorder – This is the most severe form of bipolar disorder. Manic episodes can last for more than seven days or be so severe that the patient might need hospitalization.
Depressive symptoms may also occur, lasting for at least two weeks. There is also a possibility for symptoms of both manic and depression to be present at the same time.
- Bipolar 2 disorder – This disorder causes cycles of depression similar to that of bipolar 1. An individual with this illness also experiences hypomania, which is a less severe form of mania. Hypomanic periods are not as intense or disruptive as manic episodes, and they are typically shorter in duration. Someone with bipolar 2 disorder is usually able to handle daily responsibilities and does not require hospitalization.
- Cyclothymia disorder (cyclothymia) – This type of bipolar disorder has sometimes been defined as a milder form of bipolar disorder. People with cyclothymia experience continuous irregular mood swings – from mild to moderate emotional “highs” or “lows” – for extended periods of time. In addition, changes in mood can occur quickly. There are only short periods of normal mood. For an adult to be diagnosed with cyclothymia, symptoms have to be experienced for at least two years. For children and adolescents, the symptoms must persist for at least 1 year.
- “Other” or “Unspecified” bipolar disorder – Symptoms of this type of bipolar disorder do not meet the criteria for one of the other types but people still have significant, abnormal changes in mood.
OTHER MOOD DISORDERS
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder – This type of mood disorder occurs seven to ten days before menstruation and goes away within a few days of the start of the menstrual period. Researchers believe this disorder is brought about by the hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle. Symptoms may include anger, irritability, tension, decreased interest in usual activities, and sleep problems.
- Intermittent explosive disorder – This is a less known mood disorder marked by episodes of unwanted anger. It is commonly referred to as “flying into a rage for no reason.” In an individual with intermittent explosive disorder, the behavioral outbursts are out of proportion to the situation.
UNDERLYING CAUSES FOR MOOD DISORDERS
There may be many underlying causes for the prevalence of mood disorders in certain individuals, depending upon the type of disorder. Many genetic, biological, environmental, and other factors have been associated with mood disorders.
Risk Factors May Include:
- Family history of mood disorders.
- Previous diagnosis or symptoms of a mood disorder.
- Trauma, stress, or major life changes in the case of depression.
- Physical illness or use of certain medications. Depression has been linked to major diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and heart disease.
- Brain structure and function.
Well Coast Medical providers are experts in assessing and treating mood disorders of all types. If you or a loved one are experiencing distress or problems related to mood, contact us today at (833) 931-1716 to find out how we can help!