What is a mood disorder?
An individual with a mood disorder is affected primarily by their emotional state. A person who suffers from this disorder is often experiencing extreme joy, sadness, or both at the same time.
It is normal for a person’s mood to change based on their situation. An individual must display symptoms of a mood disorder for several weeks before it can be diagnosed. Mood disorders can change your behavior as well as your ability to deal with mundane daily tasks.
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Types of mood disorder
Depression (major or clinical depression)
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders. When a traumatic life event or crisis occurs, such as when a spouse or family member dies, a job is lost, or someone is sick, sadness or grief can be a natural reaction.
In contrast, if the depression persists even after stressful events have passed or there is no apparent cause, it would be classified as clinical or major depression by doctors. It must last for at least two weeks before a person can be classified as suffering from clinical depression.
Depression can take a variety of forms. Each form of the disorder has its own set of symptoms.
- Postpartum depression (peripartum depression) – In this type of depression, the patient experiences depression during pregnancy or shortly after birth
- Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) – This is a chronic type of depression that may last for two years or longer. During this time, reduced severity of symptoms may occur.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – The mood swings of this type occur during certain seasons of the year. The season usually lasts from late autumn through winter. Sometimes, SAD episodes can also begin late in the spring or during the summer. It is also possible to experience symptoms of major depression along with winter seasonal affective disorder. Spring and summer tend to see a disappearance or a lessening of these pests.
- Psychotic depression – The condition occurs when severe depression is accompanied by psychotic symptoms like hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that others do not) or delusions (holding false beliefs that are true despite external evidence). Often, the episodes have a theme and can be shocking or disturbing.
- Depression is caused by substance abuse, medication, or medical condition.
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Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder)
Bipolar disorder is characterized by mood swings from periods of depression to mania. Depression-like symptoms may happen when someone is experiencing a low mood. Manic episodes alternate with depressive episodes. Manic episodes can cause elation or lead to feelings of irritability or an increased level of activity.
Bipolar disorder can be classified into four basic types.
- Bipolar I – There is only one form of this disease. A manic episode lasts at least seven days or can be severe enough to end up in the hospital. There will also be depressive episodes, which often last for at least two weeks. Mania and depression can occur together at times.
- Bipolar II disorder – There are many similarities between this disorder and bipolar disorder. Hypomania is a milder form of mania, which occurs in those affected by this illness. The severity of a hypomanic episode is usually lower than that of a manic episode. A bipolar II disorder sufferer typically does not need to be hospitalized and can handle everyday responsibilities.
- Cyclothymia disorder (cyclothymia) – A milder form of bipolar disorder has been called this type of bipolar disorder. Cycles of mild to moderate mood swings – from mild to moderate emotional “highs” to mild to moderate “lows” – are experienced by people with cyclothymia for long periods. Mood changes can also happen quickly and without warning. The normal mood only lasts for short periods. Symptoms of cyclothymic must be present for 2 years before cyclothymic is diagnosed in an adult. A child or adolescent must display the symptoms for at least a year.
- Mood changes that are not consistent with one of the other types of bipolar disorder are called ‘other’ or ‘unspecified’ bipolar disorder.
Other mood disorders
A mood disorder of this type usually begins seven to ten days before menstruation and will usually resolve within a few days of the period beginning. According to researchers, hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle are responsible for this disorder. The symptoms may include irritability, anger, tension, reduced interest in everyday activities, and lack of sleep.
Intermittent explosive disorder
The condition is characterized by unwarranted anger episodes. The behavior outbursts are out of proportion to the situation in individuals with the intermittent explosive disorder.
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What causes mood disorders?
Depending on the type of disorder, there may be several underlying factors. The causes of mood disorders vary from genetic factors to biological factors to environmental factors.
There are several risk factors to consider:
- Family history
- Diagnosed with a mood disorder in the past
- A major life change, trauma, or stress can cause depression
- Medications or ailments that cause physical symptoms. Studies have often linked depression to serious diseases such as Parkinson’s, cancer, and diabetes.
- An examination of bipolar disorder’s effects on brain structure and function
What are the symptoms of common mood disorders?
The symptoms of mood disorders vary depending on their type. Some of the symptoms of major depression include:
- Constantly or nearly every day feeling sad
- Feeling sluggish or lacking energy
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Overeating or loss of appetite
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Loss of enjoyment from previously enjoyable activities
- Oversleeping and undersleeping
- Death or suicide frequently on your mind
- Concentration or focusing on problems
There are both depression and mania symptoms associated with bipolar disorder. There are several symptoms of hypomania and manic episodes, including:
- Exuberant or elated feeling
- Speaking or moving rapidly
- Restlessness, irritability, or agitation
- Excessive spending or reckless driving are examples of risk-taking behavior
- Activity that is unusually high or that is being done at the same time
- Racing thoughts
- Sleeping problems or insomnia
- Feeling tense or tense without apparent cause
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How are mood disorders diagnosed?
A physical examination may be conducted by your physician to rule out physiological factors that can cause symptoms, such as a thyroid problem, other illnesses, or vitamin deficiency. If you have or if you have family members who have been diagnosed with a mood disorder, your doctor will inquire about your medical history.
Mental health professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists, will conduct an interview or survey, evaluating your sleep and eating habits, symptoms, and other behaviors.
How are mood disorders treated?
Treatment depends on the specific disease and symptoms present. Medication is usually combined with psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy”). Psychologists, psychiatrists, and other health professionals can conduct therapy sessions.
Medications to treat depression and/or bipolar disorders
Depression and bipolar disorder depressive episodes can be treated with many different medications. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are among the most widely used drugs.
The most popular of these include citalopram (Celexa®), escitalopram (Lexapro®), sertraline (Zoloft®), fluoxetine (Prozac®), and paroxetine (Paxil®). Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like duloxetine (Cymbalta®) and venlafaxine (Effexor®) are also popular and work similarly to SSRIs.
Depression and seasonal affective disorder can be treated with bupropion (Wellbutrin®). SNRIs and SSRIs work in different ways. An older form of antidepressant is a tricyclic antidepressant, monoamine oxidase inhibitor, and tetracyclic antidepressant.
The effectiveness of antidepressants depends on the individual, although different types work equally well. When taking antidepressants, even if you’re feeling better, you should continue to take them as instructed. Most antidepressants require 4 to 6 weeks of taking them as prescribed before they begin to work.
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Bipolar disorder or other disorders can cause mood swings that can be controlled by these medications. Anomalies of the brain are reduced. Antidepressants can be prescribed in conjunction with mood stabilizers in some cases.
Some of the most widely used mood stabilizers include lithium and anticonvulsant drugs, such as valproic acid (Valproic®), carbamazepine (Tegretol®), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal®) and lamotrigine (Lamictal®).
Aripiprazole (Abilify®) might be prescribed to bipolar disorder patients who experience mixed or mania-like episodes. If antidepressants do not control symptoms of depression, atypical antipsychotics may be used.
Psychotherapy (talk therapy)
The psychotherapy or counseling sessions may benefit patients with mood disorders such as depression. There are several types of therapy:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Problem-solving therapy
Brain stimulation therapies
Researchers believe that brain stimulation therapy causes changes in brain chemicals that are known to contribute to depression and bipolar disorders. Neurostimulation therapies include:
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
If medications and psychotherapy have failed to bring relief from bipolar disorders or severe depression, then ECT can help. Anesthesia and a muscle relaxant are administered before ECT. A scalp or forehead electrode is placed in certain locations.
Electric currents are delivered through the brain to cause seizures. Approximately five to ten minutes after the patient falls asleep, he wakes up. It is possible to perform ECT on an outpatient basis.
A minimum of two or three treatments per week is usually needed, spread out over several weeks. The average number of sessions required is six to twelve.
Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)
An electromagnetic coil is used to deliver short pulses of electricity to specific brain cells during this noninvasive procedure. An electric current is transmitted through the skull as the magnet is positioned on the forehead. When antidepressants aren’t working to treat major depression, this procedure is used.
Treatments for seasonal depression
The seasonal affective disorder can be treated with antidepressants, like SSRIs and bupropion, and psychotherapy. Furthermore, vitamin D supplements and light therapy may be beneficial to patients.
SAD has long been treated with this technique. Autumn and winter can be brightened with artificial light that supplements natural sunlight.
They may use a lightbox that uses cool-white fluorescent lights. About 20 to 60 minutes of artificial light are exposed to the individual every morning. A typical indoor light source emits about 20 times more light than this one.
What’s the outlook for people with mood disorders?
Depression and bipolar disorder are mood disorders that may recur or continue to occur and may require long-term or lifelong treatment. Taking your medication as prescribed is important. You may not notice a change in your symptoms for up to six weeks after you start your medications. You must continue to take your medication, no matter how much better you are feeling.
Consult your doctor or another healthcare professional if you are concerned about changing or stopping your medication. Consult your doctor if you experience unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or headaches with your current medication.
Therapy has been proven to help treat depression as well as medications and brain stimulation. Psychotherapy alone may be able to treat mild cases of depression.
In rare cases, brain stimulation therapy is used to treat severe symptoms, in people who cannot tolerate treatment with drugs, or in people with severe symptoms who are not responding to other options. Various therapeutic approaches can be effective in treating patients with mood disorders since every patient is different.
You should seek help right away if you feel suicidal or thinking of hurting yourself.