Mood disorders can be severe or minor forms of depression and disease. Mood disorders include dysthymic disorder, cyclothymic disorder and the well-known bipolar disorder. Mood disorders are consistent, long-term diseases that affect daily living and may cause depression.
According to MedlinePlus:
Most people feel sad or irritable from time to time. They may say they’re in a bad mood. A mood disorder is different. It affects a person’s everyday emotional state. Nearly one in ten people aged 18 and older have mood disorders.
Mood disorders can increase a person’s risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases.
Proper diagnosis and treatment can help people struggling with mood disorders learn how to cope and lead productive and active lives. The affects of mania and depression depend on the severity of the mood disorder, the frequency of the symptoms and the duration of the episodes.
Mood Disorder Symptoms
This is the mildest mood disorder, but will still disrupt a lifestyle with long-lasting mood swing symptoms. Brooding, low moods may cause a dark and dreary lifestyle on a consistent and daily basis. This is a form of mild depression and tends to show up earlier than major depression. Often this disorder is missed when patients believe they have always been this way or everyone feels like they do. Common signs include moodiness and up to four of these additional symptoms:
- Consistently glum or low outlooks on circumstances
- Lack of sleep or oversleeping
- Lack of appetite
- Overeating and weight gain
- Listlessness and hopelessness
- Apathy, anger or sadness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble making decisions
- Lack of motivation
Though dysthemic disorder is not debilitating, struggling with low moods will considerably affect the experience of daily life. Dysthemic disorder may develop into a more severe mood disorder or may increase the risk of other physical diseases. Dark moods may cause a risk for severe depression and suicide and should be taken seriously.
Cyclothymic disorder is often considered to be a mild form of bipolar disorder. Those struggling with cyclothymic disorder have brief mood changes, swinging from moderate depression to excitement. While the mood swings experienced in cyclothymic disorder are less severe than those of bipolar disorder, they are more extreme than dysthemic disorder. The change in attitude is more frequent than bipolar and, while a sense of enjoyment or discouragement may be exaggerated, those with cyclothymic disorder do not loose touch with reality.
According to WebMD, symptoms of cyclothymic disorder are:
- At least 2 years of mood swing episodes between mild depression and excitement
- Persistent and frequent symptoms with less than two symptom-free months in a row
- More dark moods and irritability than positive ones
Bipolar disorder is a severe mood disorder and considered a manic-depressive illness. It is the most well-known out of the mood disorders and often the first one considered if the topic is brought up.
Bipolar is the most severe of the mood disorders and interferes with a daily lifestyle in a crippling way. The sharp changes between euphoria and despair may cause severe damage to relationships and lead to suicide. Productivity is also affected by changes from impulsiveness to despondency. A complete lack of motivation may turn into a manic episode of energy and vise versa. Signs for bipolar disorder are:
- Prolonged periods of unusually high moods changing to unusually low moods
- Extreme irritability and restlessness
- Change from overly outgoing to hopelessness
- Sluggishness and jumping from thing to thing
- Easily distracted and unable to concentrate
- Changing eating and sleeping habits
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Struggle with substance abuse
Major swings from one mood to the other may occur in episodes of mania and major depression, as well as a combination of extremes at the same time in bipolar disorder. A mixed state of emotions may have symptoms of both agitation and hopelessness. Odd changes in appetite and sleep patterns are one symptom of this serious mood disorder.
Four basic forms of bipolar include:
- —manic and mixed episodes lasting at least a week with depressive episodes that often last two weeks and often requires immediate hospital care.
- Bipolar II—severe swings in mood but not full-blown manic episodes or mixed episodes
- Bipolar Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS)
- Cyclothymic Disorder a mild form of bipolar
Mood Disorder Causes
Dysthemic disorder is considered to be caused by genetics, brain chemistry, lifestyle stress, illness, isolation or other disorders. WebMD reports that 5% of the population is believed to struggle with this mild mood disorder.
Research has show that bipolar disorder is considered genetic and may be passed through family lines. Experts believe certain genes allow a tendency for bipolar development. Brain structure and other lifestyle factors may be involved in the cause for bipolar disorder. According to theNational Institute of Mental Health, “Scientists are studying the possible causes of bipolar disorder. Most scientists agree that there is no single cause. Rather, many factors likely act together to produce the illness or increase risk.”
Mood Disorder Treatment
Talk therapy (psychotherapy) and antidepressants are common treatments for mood disorders, specifically for mild cases, like dysthemic disorder. Specific forms of exercise have also been recommended on a frequent basis and light-therapy may also be used in some cases of mood disorders and depression.
Bipolar disorder is a lifetime disease that lasts for a lifetime and cannot be cured. It can, however, be treated effectively and allows patients to get control of their mood swings. Treatments may include medications, mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics, antidepressants, talk therapy (psychotherapy) and other treatments. Occasionally ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) is administered to give relief in cases where other treatments have failed. Sleep medications might be applied if needed and often herbal supplements are considered as well in treatment.
Mood disorders are a serious disease that should be identified and treated as early as possible to prevent life-threatening outcomes. While minor disorders can develop into major ones, all disorders have the potential for the kind of depression that leads to suicide.