Mood Disorder

February 2, 2017

A mood disorder is a mental health class that health professionals use to broadly describe all types of depression and bipolar disorders. The Moods referred here are not the usual “ups-and-downs” or occasional “blues” that we all experience as part of life. They are forms of a “chemical imbalance” that result for various biological and/or environmental reasons.

Illness under mood disorders include: major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder (mania – euphoric, hyperactive, over inflated ego, unrealistic optimism), persistent depressive disorder (long lasting low grade depression), cyclothymia (a mild form of bipolar disorder), and SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

Mood – While many people use the term “mood” to simply refer to their feelings at any given moment (e.g. “I’m in a happy mood”), mental health professionals use it a bit differently. In clinical settings, it is used to describe a persistent emotional state that affects how the person sees the world.

Mood disorders are characterized by a significant disturbance in a person’s persistent emotional state or mood. The two primary types of moods are depression and mania. Thus, most mood disorders fall under the broad categories of depressive disorders and bipolar disorders (formerly known as “manic depressive” disorders).

Most individuals with a bipolar mood disorder experience episodes of depression as well as manic (or hypomanic) episodes. The term “bipolar” refers to these fluctuations in mood from one “pole” to the other.

Types of Mood Disorders

These are the most common types of mood disorders:

  • Major depression – Having less interest in usual activities, feeling sad or hopeless, and other symptoms for at least 2weeks may indicate depression.
  • Dysthymia – This is a chronic, low-grade, depressed, or irritable mood that lasts for at least 2 years.
  • Bipolar disorder – This is a condition in which a person has periods of depression alternating with periods of mania or elevated mood.
  • Mood disorder related to another health condition – Many medical illnesses (including cancer, injuries, infections, and chronic illnesses) can trigger symptoms of depression.
  • Substance-induced mood disorder – Symptoms of depression that are due to the effects of medication, drug abuse, alcoholism, exposure to toxins, or other forms of treatment.


Symptoms of depression in children and adolescents can be related to a number of things. It can be triggered by a sad or painful event like a death in the family. It can develop in children who observe constant fighting between their parents. It can also result from the child experiencing parental neglect or abuse.

However, being prone to more serious kinds of mood problems can run in families. They happen because chemicals in the brain that help regulate mood are not working properly.

Sometimes, when children are under stress early in life, their bodies change in a way that can make them react badly to stress for the rest of their life. As a result, they develop problems with depression and/or anxiety that can be lifelong.

Risk Factors

Sometimes, life’s problems can trigger depression. Being fired from a job, getting divorced, losing a loved one, death in the family, and financial trouble, to name a few, all can be difficult and coping with the pressure may be troublesome. These life events and stress can bring on feelings of sadness or depression or make a mood disorder harder to manage.

The risk of depression in women is nearly twice as high as it is for men. Once a person in the family has this diagnosis, their brothers, sisters, or children have a higher chance of the same diagnosis. In addition, relatives of people with depression are also at increased risk for bipolar disorder .

Once a person in the family has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the chance for their brothers, sisters, or children to have the same diagnosis is increased. Relatives of people with bipolar are also at increased risk for depression.


Depending on age and the type of mood disorder, a person may have different symptoms of depression. The following are the most common symptoms of a mood disorder:

  • Ongoing sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Feeling inadequate or worthless
  • Excessive guilt
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide, wishing to die, or attempting suicide (Note: People with this symptom should get treatment right away!)
  • Loss of interest in usual activities or activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
  • Relationship problems
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight
  • Decreased energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • A decrease in the ability to make decisions
  • Frequent physical complaints (for example, headache, stomachache, or tiredness) that don’t get better with treatment
  • Running away or threats of running away from home
  • Very sensitive to failure or rejection
  • Irritability, hostility, or aggression

In mood disorders, these feelings are more intense than what a person may normally feel from time to time. It’s also of concern if these feelings continue over time, or interfere with one’s interest in family, friends, community, or work. Any person who expresses thoughts of suicide should get medical help right away.

The symptoms of mood disorders may look like other conditions or mental health problems. Always consult a health care provider for a diagnosis.


Mood disorders can often be treated with success. Treatment may include –

Antidepressant and mood stabilizing medications – especially when combined with psychotherapy have shown to work very well in the treatment of depression

Psychotherapy – most often cognitive-behavioral and/or interpersonal therapy. This therapy is focused on changing the person’s distorted views of himself or herself and the environment around him or her. It also helps to improve interpersonal relationship skills, and identifying stressors in the environment and how to avoid them

Family therapy

Other therapies, such as electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial stimulation.


Alternative Treatment

S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is an amino acid that is a major donor of methyl groups needed for synthesis of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, and is widely prescribed in Europe and gaining popularity in the United States. Some studies have shown levels to be reduced in patients with major depressive disorder.

Omega-3 fatty acids have become increasingly popular and seem to play a role in stabilizing neuronal membranes and facilitating monoamine neurotransmission. The human body is unable to synthesize essential fatty acids and so they must be ingested. The most common source is fish oil and many studies have shown that these supplements may balance mood.

There are several other products that are used, this includes – 5-hydroxytryptophan, Rhodiola rosea , Crocus sativus , chromium picolinate, Lavandula angustifolia , Ginkgo biloba , and chamomile.

St. John’s Wort – This may be the most-studied herb is effective for treatment of mild forms of depression.

Mind-Body Relaxation – Whether it’s guided imagery, meditation, or yoga, anyone who suffers from clinical depression or anxiety disorders can benefit from some mind-body relaxation technique.

Exercise – Regular exercise can beat the blues. But research suggests it helps with all levels of depression, even the most severe. Exercise may also help keep depression from coming back.

Melatonin improves sleep quality in people with schizophrenia, major depression, and seasonal affective disorder. This supplement may be an alternative to drugs, especially for children and the elderly.


Reference –,P00759/

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