Depression and Mood Disorders
Your mood and mental health together impact every aspect of your life. This includes how you feel about yourself, your relationships, and even elements of your physical health. A strong link exists between mental and physical health.
When individuals suffer from poor moods or mental health, depression and other mental health disorders may be. These disorders lead to digestive issues, insomnia, fatigue, heart issues, and other challenges.
These issues may become chronic at certain times, leading to depression and other mood disorders. When these disorders arise, individuals will have side effects that interfere with their daily lives.
What Is a Mood Disorder?
When you have a diagnosable mood disorder, your overall emotional state or mood is unstable and inconsistent with your situation. It may also lead to challenges in your ability to lead a normal life.
Feelings of extreme sadness or emptiness may persist. Additionally, individuals may become irritable or go through a wide range of emotions. One minute, a person may be incredibly sad and suffer from depression. In a matter of hours (or sometimes days), individuals will switch to being overly happy (mania).
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Mood disorders can damage personal relationships and ruin many important elements of a person’s life. They can have difficulties maintaining a job and will often withdraw from family and friends. It’s not uncommon for individuals suffering from a mood disorder to spend multiple days in a dark home sleeping the majority of the time.
One of the best ways to describe a mood disorder is the experience of all colors being taken from life. Individuals seem to exist in a constant state of black and white, passing through a revolving door of happiness and deep sadness.
The term mood disorder isn’t a specific diagnosis. Instead, this umbrella term makes up a large number of smaller, more specific disorders.
Examples of Mood Disorders
The following are some of the most common types of mood disorders based on the DSM-5 categorization of disorders.
Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder is outlined by extended and frequent periods of extreme sadness. Individuals will have intense feelings of despair and hopelessness. It’s not uncommon for them to have frequent bouts of crying for no apparent reason, thoughts of suicide, and staying in bed for days on end.
This is also known as manic depression or bipolar affective disorder. Bipolar disorder includes alternating periods of depression and mania. Individuals will be extremely happy for a short period, which eventually transitions to an equally long period of intense sadness.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
SAD is a form of depression associated with a shorter amount of daylight in the far northern and southern latitudes from late fall to early spring. This can be a complicated disorder to deal with and may be caused by physical influences. Levels of the sun affect certain chemicals in the body that lead to happiness and an overall positive attitude. The lack of these chemicals is a classic example of a physical deficiency leading to a mental health challenge.
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This disorder leads to intense emotional peaks and valleys. However, these feelings are often less extreme than the ones present with bipolar disorder.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
This is a common disorder that only affects women. When this disorder is present, women suffer from mood swings and irritability. These symptoms occur during the premenstrual phase of a woman’s cycle. However, they go away with the onset of menses.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Persistent Depressive Disorder is also known as dysthymia. This is simply a chronic form of depression.
Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
This disorder is unique in the fact that it all manifests in children. Symptoms include persistent irritability in young children, including violent tempers and frequent outbursts. These negative side-effects are inconsistent with the developmental age of the child.
Depression Related to Medical Illness
This form of depression is outlined by a frequent depressed mood and a loss of pleasure in most hobbies and other dynamics. Any activities directly linked to the physical effects of a physical condition may develop a negative stigma for the suffering individual.
Depression Induced by Substance Abuse or Alcohol
This includes depression symptoms that manifest during or immediately after substance abuse or withdrawal. These symptoms may develop after individuals begin a regimen with the substance of choice in certain cases.
Because of the complexity and range of characteristics associated with these disorders, there may be multiple driving forces behind their development. How does a mood disorder arise, and how do professionals identify their presence?
How Does a Mood Disorder Arise?
There are several contributing factors when it comes to individuals developing mood disorders. Not one single influence exists that causes these disorders, but rather multiple external and internal forces.
As stated in the previous section, certain disorders may be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. However, controllable forces may trigger the onset of these disorders as well.
Stressful life changes such as a switch in career, a move to a strange place, or other shifts may trigger a mood disorder. Additionally, traumatic events or severe issues within the family dynamic may also lead to the onset.
Significant evidence suggests that mood disorders also tend to run in families. This leads to an important question: Are these actual genetic markers that lead to these disorders, or are direct, external influences by prior generations that trigger them in the next?
Because of these causes, it’s important to understand the demographics at high risk for developing mood disorders.
Who Is at Risk for Mood Disorders?
It’s common for people to feel sad or depressed during certain times of their lives. Intense or tragic events may trigger short periods of intense sadness or anguish. However, a healthy mind will process these emotions normally and soon pass.
In the case of an individual with a mood disorder, these feelings aren’t processed efficiently, and the most intense, severe feelings persist. Certain groups of people have higher odds of developing a mood disorder. Children and young adults with parents or other direct family members with a mood disorder have strong chances of developing the same disorders.
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Individuals who suffer intense life challenges are at high risk for these disorders as well. If you’ve ever been fired from an important job, been divorced, lost a loved one, or experienced intense financial struggles, you could be at risk of developing a mood disorder.
When individuals experience these life changes, coping with their pressures can be nearly impossible. This triggers feelings of sadness that make these disorders much harder to manage.
The risk of a mood disorder in women is almost twice as high as it is for men. Additionally, when a person in the family is diagnosed with a mood disorder, their close, immediate family has a higher chance of receiving the same diagnosis. This includes brothers, sisters, and children who may suffer as well.
What about the most important signs of a mood disorder? It’s important to understand the symptoms associated with a mood disorder in order to obtain help for yourself or someone you love.
Signs of a Mood Disorder
The following signs are some of the most prevalent symptoms in individuals who suffer from a mood disorder.
- They may display constant signs of being sad, anxious, or feeling empty
- They may express feelings of hopelessness or often feel helpless in regard to the elements of life
- Many individuals suffering from a mood disorder suffer from feelings of low self-esteem
- It’s not uncommon for these individuals to feel inadequate or worthless. They often feel like they’re not good enough to receive normal living standards.
- Individuals will also display irrational feelings of excessive guilt, even when they’ve done nothing wrong.
- They may have repeated thoughts of death or suicide. Individuals may wish for death, and in the worst cases, attempt suicide. It’s important that individuals displaying any of these signs should be entered into an emergency mental health program.
- Individuals will lose interest in activities or hobbies they once enjoyed. This may include sex, family gatherings, sports, or any other form of recreation.
- The challenges associated with mood disorders will often cause relationship problems.
- Individuals will either suffer from insomnia or sleep too much.
- They may have changes in appetite on either end of the spectrum. Certain individuals will lose their interest in eating and lose significant amounts of weight. However, individuals can engage in emotional eating and gain weight rapidly.
- Because of the decline in mental and physical health, there will be intense periods of fatigue.
- Individuals will have difficulty remaining focused or concentrating.
- They will experience a decrease in the ability to make decisions and lose confidence.
- Physical challenges will become more severe, such as headaches, stomach aches, and other issues.
- Individuals will leave home or make threats of leaving home.
- Individuals will be very sensitive to failure, rejection, or criticism
- Possible hostility or aggression
When individuals suffer from mood disorders, certain feelings intensify more than they would normally be. It’s critical, especially in the occurrences of suicidal ideation, that help is sought swiftly.
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How are Mood Disorders Treated?
Several treatment models exist for the existence of mood disorders. It’s very common for individuals to be treated with a high degree of success. Portions of treatment may include:
- Individuals may be prescribed different medications, such as antidepressants or mood stabilizers, in conjunction with mental health services. In the specific case of mood disorders, this combination of pharmacological and psychological therapy has produced significant levels of success.
- Forms of psychotherapy are normally cognitive-behavioral-based therapies and interpersonal therapies with the inclusion of interpersonal therapy. The primary goal of therapy is for clients to change their views of themselves and the environment that surrounds them. A more realistic perspective may be achieved with the right balance of therapies and counseling sessions. Significant boosts are provided to personal relationship skills and specific relationships themselves. Individuals are also taught to identify certain stresses and triggers in their daily lives and how they can be avoided.
- Family-involved therapy provides benefits in regard to mending close relationships. Close family members and loved ones must be proactive in treatment and aftercare to gain an understanding of the elements of the disorder. This helps them cope with the client in a more efficient manner and assists them in returning to a normal life.
- In severe cases, when results aren’t garnered from other therapies, electroconvulsive therapy may be applied to achieve positive changes.
When these mood disorders are diagnosed and treated in the most efficient manner, clients can expect to achieve positive results and return to a stable, productive life.
Many questions are directed at the subject of whether mood disorders can be prevented. While there are no significant studies or research on this topic, it’s certainly possible to prevent relapses.
At Icarus Behavioral Health, we specialize in diagnosing and treating mood disorders and dual-diagnosis cases. Individuals with mental health challenges often display signs of other disorders such as substance abuse or further mental health complications.
We take a balanced approach toward treatment, with evidence-based programs and a mix of holistic options. Contact a member of our admissions team to find out how we can help you rebuild a solid mental health foundation.