Mood disorders (A complete guide)

Mood disorders, or affective disorders, are emotional wellness issues.

Commonly known mood disorders are depression and bipolar disorder, as they are the most diagnosed mood disorders.

Mood disorders can occur in anybody, including children.

The cause of mood disorders is not fully understood, but an imbalance in brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters is likely to play a role.

Sometimes mood disorders may be correlated with a medical condition, substance misuse, life occasions, or other circumstances. 

There are several types of mood disorders including major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, persistent depressive disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and bipolar disorder.

While it is typical for a person’s mood to fluctuate, at the point when extreme unhappy or extreme energetic feelings keep going for a lengthy period of time or meddle with your life, it is possible it is a result of a mood disorder.  

What are the various types of mood disorders? 

Major depressive disorder (MDD): Having less enthusiasm for common exercises, feeling pitiful or sad, and other symptoms for at least 2 weeks may indicate depression. 

Persistent depressive disorder (PDD): A less severe version of major depressive disorder, PDD is marked as an individual feeling depressed for most of the day, more days than not, for at least two years. 

Bipolar disorder: This is a condition where an individual has cycles of depression and mania.

There are two types, bipolar I and bipolar II; the difference between them is how extreme the manic periods are.

Bipolar I consists of the hypermania (more extreme). 

Cyclothymic disorder: A milder form of bipolar disorder, cyclothymic disorder is identified as low-grade high periods (hypomania), followed by brief periods of depression.

It presents with similar symptoms of bipolar II, but in shorter spans of time.

Substance-induced mood disorder: Symptoms of depression, typically, induced as a result of the impacts of medication, sedative maltreatment, alcohol abuse, exposure to toxins, or other types of treatment.

It can occur during use, shortly after use, or as a result of withdrawal from a substance.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD): PMDD is different than premenstrual syndrome in that PMDD causes emotional and physical challenges that interfere with a woman’s day to day life.

What causes mood disorders? 

As with most mental health illnesses, there is no absolute cause identified for any mood disorder.

Even so, there may be a few factors that have been seen to be related to certain disorders that may contribute to the development of said disorder.

Different hereditary, environmental, physiological, and other factors have been related to mood disorders.

These risk factors include (but are not limited to): 

♦   Family ancestry 

♦   Women

♦  Minority populations

♦  LGBTQ+ population

♦   Injury, stress, or major life changes 

♦  Traumatic experiences

♦   Physical sickness or utilization of specific prescriptions 

What are the symptoms of mood disorders? 

Symptoms of major depressive disorder may include: 

♦   Feeling depressed most of the day, more often than not 

♦   Absence of vitality 

♦  Feeling slow, having low energy

♦   Feeling useless or sad 

♦   Change in appetite (ie. loss of appetite or increase in appetite) 

♦   Loss of enthusiasm for activities that once brought happiness

♦   Resting excessively or unable to sleep

♦   Thoughts of death or suicide 

♦   Trouble thinking or concentrating 

Symptoms of persistent depressive disorder may include:

♦ Feeling hopeless and/or helpless

♦ Trouble sleeping or sleepy during the day

♦ Appetite changes (ie. eating more or less than typical)

♦ Poor concentration and/or focus

♦ Fatigue or low energy

♦ Trouble making decisions

♦ Low self-esteem

Symptoms of bipolar disorder include both depression and mania. See above major depressive disorder for depressive symptoms.

Symptoms of hypomania and hypermania include: 

♦   Feeling incredibly stimulated or thrilled 

♦   Fast discourse 

♦   Fomentation, eagerness, or peevishness 

♦   Risk-taking behavior (ie. going through an excessive amount of cash or driving carelessly)

♦   Unusual desire to achieve immense amount of work in unreasonable amount of time

♦   Impulsive actions 

♦   Little sleep needed to feel rested 

♦   Uncharacteristic anger

♦   Feeling unsteady or tense for no clear explanation 

Symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder can consist of the following:

♦  Mood swings

♦  Lethargy

♦  Feelings of hopelessness

♦  Tension, anxiety, and/or irritability

♦  Decreased interest in usual activities

♦  Trouble concentrating

♦  Change in appetite (ie. increase in hunger or decrease in hunger)

♦  Trouble sleeping or increase in sleeping

♦  Cramps or bloating

♦  Breast tenderness

♦  Joint or muscle pain

♦  Headaches

♦  Hot flashes

How are mood disorders diagnosed? 

Mood disorders are genuine medical disorders.

A psychotherapist or other mental health professional can assist an individual in determining whether or not they have a mood disorder by walking them through a total medical history and mental health assessment.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the book of guidelines for diagnosing various mental health illnesses, outlines specific criteria to be met in order to be officially diagnosed with a mood disorder. 

Maintaining a mood chart helps the therapist in analyzing how quickly your mood changes.

This analysis will help him deduce a treatment plan.

Who is at risk for mood disorders? 

Anybody can feel miserable or discouraged sometimes, however, mood disorders are more extreme and harder to manage than typical feelings of sadness.

Children, adolescents, or adults who have a parent with a mood disorder have a higher probability of also developing a mood disorder.

Life occasions and stress can uncover and/or exacerbate feelings of sadness or depression, thus making feelings harder to manage. 

Sometimes, life’s issues can trigger mood disorders.

Being terminated from a vocation, getting separated, losing a friend or family member, and money related difficulties, to give some examples, can all be troublesome and adapting to the burden might be problematic for some people.

These circumstances and stress can open the door to feelings of sadness or depression, which can result in the development of a mood disorder or make an already diagnosed mood disorder harder to manage. 

The risk of depression in women is almost twice as high for men.

When an individual in the family has this diagnosis, their siblings and children have a higher possibility of a similar diagnosis.

What’s more, family members of individuals with depression are likewise at expanded risk for bipolar disorder.

When an individual in the family has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the possibility for their siblings and children to have a similar diagnosis is increased.

Family members of individuals with bipolar are likewise at expanded risk for depression.

How are mood disorders treated? 

Mood disorders can often be treated a few ways. Treatment may include: 

  • Antidepressant and mood-stabilizing medicines—especially when combined with psychotherapy, which has been shown to work very well in the treatment of depression.
    • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are a very common medication prescribed to those struggling with depression. 
    • Mood stabilizers such as lithium carbonate and valproic acid are the most widely used. Ecstasy is also used to regulate mood.Often, antipsychotic medications are also prescribed as a method of treating bipolar disorder.
  • 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 cope with them.
    • Family therapy, which is a type of psychotherapy, can also be beneficial in treating mood disorders as families play a fundamental role in any treatment procedure. Family therapy allows for the entire family to support the individual struggling with the illness and work together to help them manage it.
  • Some research has looked into the effect that exercise has on mood disorder. These studies found that aerobic exercising can aid in managing the disorder and is most effective when done four to six times a week. Though that is recommended, really any amount of exercise is better than none.

When correctly diagnosed and treated, people with mood disorders can live, stable, productive, healthy lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes mood disorders?

There is no single cause for mood disorders, but studies have shown a variety of factors that seem to play a role in the development of mood disorders.

The following are some of the risk factors:

– Family history and genetics

– Previous diagnosis of a mental health disorder

– Trauma, stress, or major life changes

– Physical illness or use of certain medications

– Brain structure and function

– Minority populations

What is the best medicine to treat mood disorders?

Mood stabilizers and antidepressants are the most often prescribed medications for individuals diagnosed with mood disorders.

Some examples are lithium, depakote, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclics, and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors,

What are some examples of mood disorders?

Bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, cyclothymia, persistent depressive disorder, and substance induced mood disorder.

How prevalent are mood disorders?

It depends on the type of disorder.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, it has been statistically shown that 1 in 6 people experience a mental health challenge in the past week. 

Is winter depression a real thing?

Yes, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is an actual type of depression.

It results in an individual feeling symptoms of major depressive disorder during the winter months when the days are shorter and the weather is overall drearier.

How do mood disorders affect your life?

A mood disorder is a mental health illness that primarily affects a person’s emotional state.

Thus, they can result in altered behaviors and affect one’s ability to navigate daily life.

Is PMS a mood disorder?

PMS is not considered a mood disorder, however, some women experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) which is a new addition to the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health.

PMDD is similar in symptoms to PMS, but to a more extreme extent and to the point of daily life impedance

Book recommendations

A Spectrum Approach to Mood Disorders: Not Fully Bipolar but Not Unipolar–Practical Management

In A Spectrum Approach to Mood Disorders, the author writes an in-depth exploration of the signs, symptoms, and nuanced presentations of the mood disorder spectrum.

He focuses on the broad gray area between Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar I Disorder.

Using both theoretical explanations and real-world scenarios, the author provides practical knowledge regarding the treatment and identifying of mood disorders.

Good Mood, Bad Mood:Help and Hope for Depression and Bipolar Disorder

In this book, the author examines whether we are in an epidemic or if we have simply changed how we label our sad moods.

The author explores how current research suggests that the criteria used to diagnose depression has resulted in an increased and incorrect labeling of typical human sadness as depression. 

The Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Living with BPD

This book explains the nuances and details of borderline personality disorder in terms that most people can understand (rather than in the dense terms doctors often use).

By explaining the symptoms, treatments methods, and coping skills related to borderline personality disorder, this book is great for those just curious about it, who knows someone with it, or even has it themselves.


Mood Disorders, WebMDWhat is PMDD?, WebMD