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What is a Mood Disorder?

An individual may be diagnosed with a mood disorder if they experience persistent mood swings, low mood (depression) or elevated mood (mania) for an extended period of time.

Mood disorders are psychological conditions characterized by serious changes in one’s moods. Most people have feelings of sadness or happiness from time to time. Individuals with mood disorders experience persistently low (depressed) or persistently high (manic) moods — above and beyond what most would consider to be typical feelings of sadness or happiness.

Mood disorders include:

  • Major depressive disorder — extremely low moods
  • Bipolar disorder — extremely high (manic, euphoric or hyperactive) and low moods
  • Persistent depressive disorder — depression that lasts more than three years
  • Cyclothymia — a less severe form of bipolar disorder that may include hypomania and episodes of moderate depression
  • Seasonal affective disorder — depression that occurs only during the winter, when there is less sunlight

Mood disorders can occur along with substance use, anxiety disorders, eating disorders or personality disorders.

Nearly one in ten adults in the U.S.. will experience a mood disorder in their lifetime and mood disorders have a strong genetic link. This means that you are more likely to develop a mood disorder if one of your close relatives also has a mood disorder.

Signs of a Mood Disorder

Signs of a mood disorder include serious changes in one’s moods (extremely low or extremely high).

Individuals experiencing depression may notice the following signs:

  • Changes in one’s energy levels, appetite, emotions, or sleep (for instance, eating or sleeping more or less than usual)
  • Feelings of indifference, worthlessness or irritability
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Loss of pleasure in things they used to enjoy

Depression can sneak up on people and it could take months or even years before the individual recognizes the problem.

Individuals experiencing mania may notice the following signs:

  • An increase in energy and confidence; feeling grandiose or important in some way
  • A decreased need for sleep without feeling more tired
  • Racing thoughts, ideas or speech
  • Feelings of irritability or feeling aggressive
  • Impulsivity or reckless tendencies

Mood disorders are associated with a number of health risks, including chronic medical conditions, an increased risk of hospitalization (particularly in younger adults) and an increased risk of suicide.

Help for depression and bipolar disorder

Mood disorders can have very serious outcomes when left untreated. This means that is important to seek help for a mood disorder as soon as symptoms are noticed.

In treatment, individuals can receive medical and psychiatric care along with talk therapy. With proper treatment, individuals with mood disorders are able to live productive, full lives.

If you have concerns that you or someone you love may have a mood disorder, please call us at (877) 711-1878 to speak with a Master’s-level counselor about treatment options for mood disorders.

At first, I was ready to quit the program because I felt hopeless, but I stuck through the whole journey and it has helped me stand up stronger and quicker when I fall.

Former Patient