Basic Psychology, Psychopathology

Mood Disorders

Most people feel sad or irritable from time to time. They may say they’re in a bad mood. A mood disorder is different. It affects a person’s everyday emotional state.Mood disorders are characterized by a serious change in mood that cause disruption to life activities. A mood disorder also referred to as an affective disorder, is a condition that impacts mood and its related functions. If you are struggling with a mood disorder, your moods may range from extremely low (depressed) to extremely high or irritable (manic).

Mood disorders fall into the basic groups of elevated mood, such as mania or hypomania; depressed mood, of which the best-known and most researched is major depressive disorder (MDD) (commonly called clinical depression, unipolar depression, or major depression); and moods which cycle between mania and depression, known as bipolar disorder (BD) (formerly known as manic depression). There are several subtypes of depressive disorders or psychiatric syndromes featuring less severe symptoms such as dysthymic disorder (similar to but milder than MDD) and cyclothymic disorder (similar to but milder than BD).

Difference-Between-Mania-and-Hypomania-infographic1.jpg

      • Major depressive disorder(MDD) : commonly called major depression, unipolar depression, or clinical depression, wherein a person has one or more major depressive episodes. After a single episode, Major Depressive Disorder (single episode) would be diagnosed. After more than one episode, the diagnosis becomes Major Depressive Disorder (Recurrent). Depression without periods of mania is sometimes referred to as unipolar depression because the mood remains at the bottom “pole” and does not climb to the higher, manic “pole” as in bipolar disorder.
      • Bipolar disorders :Bipolar disorder (BD) (also called Manic Depression or Manic-Depressive Disorder), an unstable emotional condition characterized by cycles of abnormal, persistent high mood (mania) and low mood (depression), which was formerly known as “manic depression” (and in some cases rapid cycling, mixed states, and psychotic symptoms). Subtypes include: bipolar-type_0513-slideshow_375936.jpg
      • Substance-induced : A mood disorder can be classified as substance-induced if its etiology can be traced to the direct physiologic effects of a psychoactive drug or other chemical substance, or if the development of the mood disorder occurred contemporaneously with substance intoxication or withdrawal. Also, an individual may have a mood disorder coexisting with a substance abuse disorder. Substance-induced mood disorders can have features of a manic, hypomanic, mixed, or depressive episode. Most substances can induce a variety of mood disorders. For example, stimulants such as amphetamine, methamphetamine, and cocaine can cause manic, hypomanic, mixed, and depressive episodes.

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.

Treatment Options

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 is focused on changing thought patterns and behaviors. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)  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 which may include Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in severe cases. 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.

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