Any mental disorder that primarily targets the constant emotional state, or mood, of a person in a negative way is known as a mood disorder.1 This means that people who suffer from mood disorders do not have bad moods or attitudes as a result of choice or natural personality, but as a result of a physical disorder that they are sick with. Understanding mood disorders and why some people are affected with them can help you to understand yourself or others who are affected by this type of mental health condition.
Many do not realize that mood disorders constitute legitimate medical conditions that can often receive insurance-covered treatments just like any other disease.
Some of the most common mood disorders are depression and bipolar disorder, which includes depression but also includes episodes of mania. Both of these disorders are able to be treated successfully. However, there are many mood disorders in addition to depression and bipolar disorder.2
An expression that you may hear if you suffer from depression goes something like this: “It is all in your head. That’s not the way it really is! Don’t be so hard on yourself. Why can’t you just perk up?” People may expect you to see things from a positive point of view, to ‘see the bright side’, so to speak. However, for some reason, even though you understand that there are reasons to feel better than you do, you still feel down.
Depression makes you feel like you don’t have the energy to do what you should do. You might feel like you’ve become uninteresting, or at least uninterested in things that you might have enjoyed in the past. Your life gets harder to deal with, and things don’t seem to bring joy like they used to. You want to sleep a lot, or you can’t sleep at all. When you get invited somewhere, you might feel tense and too tired to accept, but guilty of you don’t. If you don’t get invited somewhere, you may feel unloved, even though you might not have gone if you were invited. You can begin to feel that others see you as uncaring and this might make you retreat further into isolation. Problems can seem overwhelming, options can seem cloudy or far-off, and hope dissipates.
Depression is more common than you think. Some suffer from depression in conjunction with life changes, and others deal with it all throughout their life. Depression can come with pregnancy in some cases as a result of hormonal imbalance. Depression is way more extreme than a feeling of sadness that results even in a very sincere and intense level, such as when a mate dies. Depression lasts too long, it runs too deep, it covers too many areas of life.
Bipolar disorder used to be known as manic depression. That is because a bipolar person would be depressed sometimes, and other times that person would experience mania, becoming extremely full of energy, excited, and, for a very short period of time before things get completely out of control– possibly lots of fun. However, these changes in mood are confusing, uncontrollable, and extreme. A person who suffers from bipolar disorder seems difficult to figure out, because sometimes something seems to make that person happy, and other times he or she may seem upset or sad for no apparently good reason. Nearly 6 million American adults suffer from bipolar disorder.
One problem with bipolar disorder is that it is often mistaken for depression. Treatment for depression and bipolar disorder are different. If you are receiving treatment for depression, look for the manic or hypo-manic symptoms of bipolar disorder, such as the following:
- Seriously decreased need for sleep
- Feeling very talkative and possibly being unable to stop talking
- Ideas racing through your head
- Ability to pay attention to everything, even things that aren’t important
- Feeling super goal oriented
- Alternating between excitement about having fun, anger, or extreme and forceful sadness
These things are not necessarily negative. The point here is that if you have periods where these symptoms are present, then it is likely that you do not have depression, but bipolar disorder. If you receive treatment for depression, the antidepressants can actually make the bipolar disorder worse– thus, good communication with your doctor is very important.
Help for Mood Disorders
Now that we know that mood disorders are common, treatable, and varied in nature, what can you do if you suspect that you or a loved one has a problem with some sort of mental health issue?
Depression screenings are easy to perform. You can even find them online if you would like to get just a general idea of your state of mental health.
Treatment for mood disorders may include natural remedies, medication, specialized intensive therapy or even therapeutic group exercises or activities. These treatment forms often bring great results to mood and overall life quality.
1. National Institute of Mental Health. “Any Mood Disorder among Adults.” Found online 2/2/16 at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-mood-disorder-among-adults.shtml.
2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.