Mood disorders, which are also referred to as affective disorders, are mental health conditions that feature intensive fluctuation in moods, extreme mania, or protracted feelings of sadness and loss of interest in life. Individuals with a mood disorder may exhibit an emotional state that is inconsistent with real circumstances, seeming irrational to the observer. There are various types of mood disorders, but all have the potential to disrupt normal functioning.
Different Types of Mood Disorders
Mood disorders feature fluctuating moods. These may involve pronounced mood swings or severe low mood, all of which can impair normal functioning. Mood disorders have group based on specific features. These types include:
- Bipolar I Disorder. Characterized by extreme manic episodes that can last up to a week, alternating with depressive episodes that may last two weeks or more. Bipolar I can involve acute and severe episodes that require acute stabilization.
- Bipolar II Disorder. Features a pattern of hypomanic mania, a less intense form of mania, alternating with depressive episodes.
- Cyclothymic Disorder. Characterized by repeated periods of where both the symptoms of mania and depression exist, but do not rise to the level of a diagnosed episode.
- Major Depressive Disorder. MDD features 5 or more of the symptoms of sadness, despair, fatigue, changes in eating and sleep habits, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, slowed movements, difficulty concentrating, and suicidal ideation that persist for more than two weeks.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder. Also referred to as dysthymia, features long-term lower grade depression lasting more than two years in duration.
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. A severe form of PMS that features irritability, extreme sadness, anger, and hopelessness associated with the menstrual cycle.
of the U.S. population reports at least one depressive symptom a month
of U.S. adults are estimated to experience any mood disorder at some time in their lives.
of U.S. adults are estimated to have had any mood disorder in the past year
of adolescents are estimated to have had any mood disorder
What Causes a Mood Disorder
Science has yet to definitively define the exact causes of depression or bipolar disorder, although there are some identified factors. These include:
- Imbalances in brain chemistry, such as the neurotransmitters, may be involved in mood disorders. In addition, the brain structure itself may be different in individuals with bipolar disorder.
- An unstable family environment, abuse, neglect, sudden death of a loved one, and protracted stress may be risk factors for mood disorders.
- Mood disorders often run in families, with successive generations experiencing depression, anxiety, or bipolar.
- Substance abuse. A substance use disorder can increase the risk of developing a mood disorder, especially depression. Certain substances, such as cocaine, sedatives, and hallucinogens cause symptoms that mimic mood disorders.
Treatment for Mood Disorders
Mood disorders can be successfully treated and managed through medication and psychotherapy, improving the quality of life. Each type of mood disorder will require a treatment regimen tailored accordingly. The framework for the treatment plan involves the following interventions:
Medication. The specific mood disorder will dictate the type of medication needed. The drugs used to treat mood disorders include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety drugs, or anti-psychotic medications, based on the specific diagnosis.
Psychotherapy. Through psychotherapy, patients are taught ways to reshape their self-defeating thought patterns that can trigger symptoms, and to replace the disordered thought-behavior patterns with healthier beliefs and more positive behaviors. The most commonly utilized psychotherapies for mood disorders include cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal and social rhythm therapy.
Holistic activities. Holistic activities can augment clinical results by promoting relaxation and stress reduction in daily life. Holistic activities might include yoga classes, deep-breathing exercises, practicing mindfulness, art therapy, guided meditation, acupuncture, or therapeutic massage.
Residential Treatment for Severe Mood Disorders
When the mood disorder becomes life impairing and outpatient mental health services have not adequately improved functioning, or if the individual displays symptoms of self-harm or considering suicide, a residential treatment program is higher level of care. A residential program can provide acute stabilization services to immediately safeguard the patient in distress before transferring to treatment.
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