Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the US. However, some people may not be aware that there is more to mood disorders than just feeling down.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, there are a number of different types of mood disorders, including:

  • Major depression: loss of interest in activities, with sad or hopeless mood, that lasts two weeks or more
  • Bipolar disorder: alternating periods of depression and mania, which is a contrasting, highly elevated mood
  • Dysthymia: constant, low-grade depression lasting two years or more
  • Mood disorder related to another health condition: depression that occurs as a symptom of other major or chronic illness, such as cancer
  • Substance-induced mood disorder: can occur based on use of prescribed medications or treatments, or as a result of substance abuse

When all of these different types of mood disorder are considered, a wider picture of how mood disorders affect people across different areas of society can be drawn. The following statistics assist in detailing that picture even further.

1. Nearly 10 percent of adults will experience a mood disorder in a given year.

According to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), 9.5 percent of adults in the US experience a mood disorder each year, and 45 percent of those individuals will experience severe symptoms of the disorder. While the disorders are not fully understood, there are some particular risk factors for developing mood disorders, including:

  • Personal history of mental illness
  • Family history of mental illness or a mood disorder
  • Trauma, long-term stress, or challenging, major life events
  • Chronic or severe physical illness or injury
  • Some medications or use of illegal drugs or alcohol

A predisposition for mood disorders does not mean that the individual will necessarily develop a disorder. However, certain events and the presence of other risk factors may make it more likely that an individual will develop a disorder.

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2. Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression.

There is research demonstrating that twice as many women as men experience depression, and women have an increased likelihood of experiencing other mood disorders. As described in a research report from Science Daily, there is speculation that this is connected to female sex hormones like estrogen; however, the relationship between these hormones and whether or not a woman experiences depression is complex and needs more research.

Women also experience specific types of major depression disorders that do not occur for men, including premenstrual dysphoric disorder, premenstrual syndrome, and postpartum depression. Psychiatric Times explains that symptoms of depression are also more likely to occur in the few years before and after a woman reaches menopause.

3. About 14 percent of youth between 13 and 18 will have a mood disorder.

Information from the University of Rochester Medical Center explains that people under the age of 18 may show different symptoms of depression. Along with the general symptoms of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in former activities, teens may experience:

  • Oversensitivity to rejection or perceived rejection
  • Irritability or hostility
  • Excessive guilt, especially about situations they can’t control
  • The desire to run away
  • Underperforming in school, being distracted
  • Rebellion

A lot of parents or others may look at a teen’s moodiness and dismiss it just as being overdramatic or acting out for attention. However, it’s important to realize that depression and other mood disorders are real psychiatric issues that are best resolved through treatment. Mood disorders can sometimes lead to self-destructive behavior, such as cutting, risk-taking activities, or even suicide.

4. Mood disorders and substance abuse are highly likely to co-occur.

Substance use disorders are a type of mental health disorder that often co-occurs with mood disorders. However, the relationship between these two conditions is not always predictable; there are multiple ways in which substance abuse and mood disorders occur.

First, an individual with a pre-existing mood disorder may use drugs or alcohol to “self-medicate” the uncomfortable feelings, physical discomfort, and extremes of emotion that can occur with mood disorders. This may happen with prescribed medications or with illicit drugs or alcohol. However, this process can easily lead to substance abuse and even addiction if the person continues to increase dosages or frequency of use to manage symptoms. This type of co-occurring disorder requires treatment of both the substance abuse and the mood disorder in order to achieve reliable resolution of either condition.

In addition, as described by Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, substance-induced mood disorder can cause symptoms of depression or other mood disorders. As long as the individual is taking the substance, the symptoms of the mood disorder are likely to occur. If the drug is a prescribed medication, the individual may benefit from therapy to treat the mood disorder symptoms. On the other hand, if the depression symptoms are the result of abusing alcohol or illicit drugs, or improper use of prescribed substances, then ceasing use of the substance will often lead to alleviation of the mood disorder.

5. Adolescents with major depression are more than twice as likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.

Additional research from Addiction Science & Clinical Practice indicates that adolescents with substance use disorders are more likely than their peers to have been identified as having bad behavior or a challenging temperament as children. They are also more likely to have dealt with challenges like abuse, neglect, or trauma.

These early behaviors can indicate the presence of a mood disorder or other mental health disorder that may have led to the teenager engaging in illicit drug use or alcohol abuse, either as a risk-taking measure, an attempt to fit in with peers, or a form of rebellion. This substance use can in turn lead to a substance use disorder.

It is notable that the earlier in life an individual starts using drugs or alcohol, the more likely it is that the person will struggle with substance use later in life, as explained by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

6. More than 80 percent of people who have symptoms of depression are not being treated.

One of the biggest challenges of mood disorders is the social stigma that develops around them. People who have mood disorders may not recognize that there is a mental health disorder in action or that they can get help with the issue. However, even if they do realize that help is available, they may hesitate to get that help, not wanting to admit that there is a problem; it may make them feel even more broken, sad, and hopeless.

Nevertheless, help is available for people who are dealing with mood disorders. A number of therapies can help people learn to understand and manage the symptoms of depression. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, as described in an article from Psychiatric Clinics of North America, can provide a framework from which this understanding grows and can be developed to help the individual. An added benefit is that this type of treatment can also help individuals who have co-occurring substance use disorders.

Mood disorders are a misunderstood element of mental health. However, with continued study and attempts to remove stigma through public education, the risks and challenges of mood disorders, including substance abuse, can be mitigated.