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Mood disorders are prevalent throughout our society. A mood disorder is a mental health problem that primarily affects a person’s emotional state, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It may cause a person to experience long periods of extreme sadness, happiness, or both. We all deal with a change of mood, depending on our surroundings. However, a mood disorder diagnosis can only be made if symptoms persist for several weeks or more. These disorders create havoc in a person’s behavior and affect your ability to deal with work or school.

Children, teens, and adults are prone to developing mood disorders. Children and teens won’t exhibit the same symptoms as adults, and it’s harder to diagnose in children because they can’t express how they feel. A combination of therapy, support, self-care, and antidepressants can help treat their symptoms.

What are the Different Types of Mood Disorders?

Mood disorders will vary based on the symptoms the individual exhibits, but the most common mood disorders include:

  • Dysthymia: This is a chronic and low-grade irritable or depressed mood that lasts for two years or more. 
  • Major depression: The difference between feeling depressed or dealing with major depression is when a person loses interest in activities that once brought them joy, feeling hopeless or sad, and experiencing other symptoms that persist for two weeks or more. 
  • Bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder is a severe condition that causes periods of extreme depression and alternates with mania or elevated mood. 
  • Substance-induced mood disorder: An individual may be struggling with symptoms of depression that persist over an extended period, but it could be due to the effects of drug abuse, medication, alcoholism, or exposure to toxins. Always be honest with your doctor about substances you’re consuming for an adequate diagnosis. 

What Causes Mood Disorders?

There are various factors contributing to mood disorders, but most of them are caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. However, in other cases, it may be linked to stressful life changes causing you to feel a depressed mood. If a member of your family is diagnosed with a mood disorder, studies show that you’re genetically more at risk of developing it too.

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Who Is At Risk For Mood Disorders?

Depression or sorrow is part of our lives. We may be reeling from the loss of a loved one, going through a breakup, or dealing with bad news. However, those diagnosed with mood disorders go through more challenging and more intense feelings than typical sadness. As was mentioned above, children or young adults who have a parent or family member diagnosed with a mood disorder are at greater risk of also having the condition. Stress and life events may expose or worsen the feeling of depression or sadness, making it much harder to manage. 

It’s not a secret that problems in our lives can trigger depression. A death in the family, financial troubles, and some of what we mentioned above make it difficult to cope with, leading to overwhelming pressure that’s troublesome. Life events bring on feelings of depression or intense sadness that make mood disorders much harder to manage. 

Women are twice as likely to experience depression than men. Once a person in the family is diagnosed, their sisters, brothers, or children will have a higher chance of receiving the same diagnosis. Relatives of those with depression are also at an increased risk of developing bipolar disorder. 

What Are the Symptoms of Mood Disorders?

Mood disorders will affect everyone differently based on specific factors that include the type of mood disorder you’re diagnosed with, if you’re a man or woman, and your age. However, the most common symptoms that people experience include:

  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Ongoing sadness, feeling of anxiety, or an “empty” mood
  • Feeling worthless or inadequate
  • Dealing with low self-esteem
  • Excessive guilt
  • Problems in your relationship
  • Repeated thoughts of death or suicide, wishing you were dead, or attempting suicide. (Please call the suicide hotine if you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts – 1 (800) 273-8255.)
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, including sex
  • A decrease in energy levels
  • Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Unable to make decisions
  • Extremely sensitive to rejection or failure
  • Physical complaints that occur frequently, such as headache, stomach ache, or tiredness that doesn’t get better with treatment
  • Threats of running away from home
  • Running away from home
  • Hostility, aggression, or irritability 

In mood disorders, the feeling will be more intense than what a person might feel from time to time. It’s also concerning if these feelings persist over time or interfere with your family, school, or work. Anyone who expresses thoughts or feelings of wanting to hurt themselves must seek medical attention immediately. 

Mood disorders may look like other mental health conditions or health problems, but you must speak with a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis. 

How Are Mood Disorders Diagnosed?

Mood disorders are considered real medical disorders, which means a mental health professional or psychiatrist is the only one who can make a formal diagnosis. They will complete a psychiatric evaluation and look through your complete medical history. You must be honest and answer all questions to the best of your ability.

How Are Mood Disorders Treated?

Fortunately, mood disorders can be treated successfully with a combination of medications and psychotherapy. While each case will differ in the approach, the most common forms of treatment include:

  • Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy and other interpersonal therapies have been shown effective in treating mood disorders. These therapies are focused on changing your distorted views and the environment around you. It will help you to improve interpersonal relationship skills and identify stressors in your environment and how to avoid them. 
  • Antidepressants and mood-stabilizing medication: When medication is used in conjunction with psychotherapy, it has been proven extremely effective in treating depression.
  • Family therapy: Discussing your problems with your family in the presence of a psychotherapist helps them to better understand what you’re going through and understand the condition. It is beneficial for all involved.
  • Other therapies: Transcranial stimulation and electroconvulsive therapy are other proven methods.

Can Mood Disorders Be Prevented?

Unfortunately, at this time, there isn’t a way to prevent or reduce the severity of mood disorders. However, an early diagnosis in conjunction with treatment may enhance the person’s growth and development, reduce the severity of symptoms, and improve the quality of life for someone struggling with a mood disorder. If you believe that what you’re going through is more than life-induced depression, it might be time to reach out to a medical professional. Early diagnosis, like with any disease, is key to living a healthy life. 

Sources

Mayo Clinic (November 2020) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cognitive-behavioral-therapy/about/pac-20384610

Suicide Prevention Lifeline (November 2020) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. from https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

NIMH (November 2020) Depression. from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

ScienceDaily (January 2002) Discovery That Common Mood Disorders Are Inherited Together May Reveal Genetic Underpinnings. from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020110074124.htm

Cleveland Clinic (November 2020) Mood Disorders. from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17843-mood-disorders#:~:text=A%20mood%20disorder%20is%20a,change%2C%20depending%20on%20the%20situation

NIMH (November 2020) Bipolar Disorder. from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml

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