Everyone’s mood changes as different events influence life. However, a persistent low or overexcitable sensation can be a symptom of a mood disorder. This category of mental health concerns is the general grouping for types of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Sometimes, these disorders are also called affective disorders. Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with a mood disorder.
List of Mood Disorders
- Major Depression
- Bipolar Diosrder
- Anxiety Disorder
- Seasonal Affective Sisorder
Types of Mood Disorders and Their Symptoms
Major depression: This is the persistent, unshakeable feeling of hopelessness, emotional numbness, and/or despair. A person experiencing major depression may have appetite changes or difficulty eating; be unable to concentrate on work, sleep, or hobbies; or experience persistent suicidal thoughts. The person struggling with major depression may have some happy moments or more elevated moods, but for the most part, the disorder does not go away and they consistently feel low or sad.This form of depression may be triggered simply by genetics or childhood environment, or it could also be triggered by:
- Grief due to the loss of a loved one
- Feeling deprived or socially isolated
- Large life changes, such as moving, changes in employment, graduation, or retirement
- Conflicts in relationships
- Physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse
Bipolar disorder: Originally called manic-depression, this disorder is divided into bipolar disorder I and bipolar disorder II. These two types of the mood disorder are characterized by changes or swings in mood from extreme happiness and excitability to serious depression, low mood, and low physical energy.
Bipolar disorder I: This disorder is characterized by an elevated, manic mood that lasts for at least seven days. The person may also experience symptoms of mania that are so severe they must be hospitalized for their own safety and the safety of those around them. Depressive episodes follow the manic episodes and typically last about two weeks. It is also possible in bipolar disorder I to experience both mania and depression at the same time.
Bipolar disorder II: With this disorder, the individual experiences cycling between depression and hypomania, which is different than full-blown episodes of mania but can still be disturbing to the individual’s life.
Anxiety disorder: Persistent feeling of impending problems, unspecified worries, or paranoia signify this disorder. Anxiety disorders can be broken down into their own categories and can include:
Social anxiety: fear of being judged or performing poorly in front of others, regardless of social or professional situation
Generalized anxiety disorder: a general feeling of restlessness and excessive worry for a period of several months
Panic disorder: recurrent, unexpected panic attacks that may have been triggered by a major life event at one point, but the panic diverges and is not directly caused by the original fear
Dysthymia: This is a form of depression that is typically milder or has fewer symptoms compared to major depression. However, it is still a chronic form of depression that can get in the way of a person’s life and typically persists for at least two years. Symptoms of dysthymia include:
- Sadness or low mood through most of the day
- Loss of enjoyment of formerly pleasurable hobbies or activities
- Difficulty concentrating
- Recurring, but not consistent, thoughts of suicide
Cyclothymia: This mood disorder is similar to bipolar disorder I and II, but typically the symptoms of emotional highs and lows are not as extreme. The person experiences upswings and downswings that are noticeably different from their baseline and not typically related to major life changes, such as a job transition or a loved one’s death.
Symptoms of cyclothymia ups can include:
- Exaggerated feelings of happiness or euphoria
- Extreme optimism
- Raised self-esteem
- Excessive talking
- Racing thoughts, inability to concentrate, or being easily distracted
- Too much physical activity, or reduced sensations of sleepiness or fatigue
Depressed symptoms of cyclothymia include:
- Hopelessness, sadness, or emptiness
- Irritability, particularly in children or teens
- Loss of interest in enjoyable activities or hobbies
- Sleeping too much
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling rundown or fatigued
Seasonal affective disorder: Sometimes called seasonal depression, this is a form of depression that appears to be triggered by seasonal changes, which may change how much serotonin the brain produces or alter hormonal balances. This is typically associated with changes from summer into winter, although some people experience the opposite flow.
Health-related mood disorder: This disorder involves changes in mood, particularly toward depression, that persist and are related to a medical condition. The medical condition can cause the person to struggle with changes to their life. For example, receiving a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis can lead to depression because the person’s life will change because of their disorder dramatically, or the medical condition can change brain structure and chemistry, leading to a mental health issue.
Substance-induced mood disorder: In this disorder, a substance changes the brain’s chemistry and structure enough to induce a mental health issue, like depression or anxiety. This can be chronic abuse of a substance like alcohol, a side effect of a prescription medication, or a highly addictive or dangerous chemical, like synthetic marijuana.
Treatment for Mood Disorders and Co-Occurring Substance Abuse
If a person develops a mood disorder and the condition goes untreated, the individual is at greater risk of developing a co-occurring substance abuse disorder or addiction. People who struggle with these conditions may become addicted to an intoxicating substance in order to feel more normal or regulate their symptoms. However, there is always the potential for this type of self-regulating to increase the severity or cycle of these symptoms. A substance use disorder can also lead to a mood disorder, as the substance changes brain chemistry and structure.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a study they conducted in 2014 revealed that 7.9 million people in the United States struggle with both a substance abuse and mental health disorder. Many of these mental health issues are mood disorders, which may be temporarily relieved by the substance abuse disorder, but likely get worse over time without appropriate clinical treatment. Fortunately, the link between mental health and addiction is becoming better understood, and more rehabilitation programs are available to help people struggling with these co-occurring disorders get simultaneous treatment.