A mood disorder is a mental health condition primarily affecting your emotional state. It is a condition in which you undergo long periods of extreme happiness, sadness, or both. Certain mood disorders also involve other constant emotions, like anger and irritability. The general emotional state or mood of persons with mood disorders is distorted or inconsistent with the circumstances, making it difficult for them to function normally.
It's normal for the mood to alter according to the situation. However, in mood disorders, symptoms persist for several weeks or longer. It can cause changes in your behavior and can affect your capability to perform routine activities, like work or school. There is an increased risk of suicide associated with mood disorders.
Clinical Conditions Associated with Mood Disorders
Depression and bipolar disorder are the most prevalent forms of mood disorders. Also, anxiety disorders affect mood and frequently transpire along with depression. Though anxiety (generalized anxiety disorder) does not fall in the mood disorder category, it often precedes or coexists with mood disorders. The entities under mood disorders include:
• Major depressive disorder - lengthy and continued periods of extreme sadness
• Bipolar disorder - also known as manic depression or bipolar affective disorder, shows alternating depression and mania.
• Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - is often linked to fewer daylight hours in the far northern and southern latitudes from the end of fall to the onset of spring.
• Cyclothymic disorder - causes emotional ups and downs, milder than bipolar disorder.
• Premenstrual dysphoric disorder - mood changes and irritability occur during the premenstrual phase in women and resolve with the onset of menses.
• Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) - a longstanding form of depression
• Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder - characterizes chronic, severe, and persistent irritability in children that frequently contains periodic temper outbursts inconsistent with the child's developmental age.
• Depression related to medical illness - a constant depressed mood and a substantial loss of pleasure in most or all activities that are directly related to the physical effects of another medical condition.
• Depression induced by substance use or medication - depression symptoms that develop during or soon after substance use or withdrawal, or exposure to a medication.
Clinical Presentation of the Manifestation
Each mood disorder shows a different set or different patterns of symptoms. Mood disorders typically include characteristics that affect mood and sleep, eating habits and energy status and thinking capabilities.
In general, depressive symptoms present as-
• Being sad most of the time or almost every day.
• Energy deprived or feeling sluggish.
• A feeling of worthlessness or hopelessness.
• Disinterest in previously enjoyable activities.
• Ideas about death or suicide.
• Hardship concentrating or focusing.
• Sleepy or sleep deprived.
• Loss of appetite or overeating.
In general, hypomanic or manic episodes symptoms present as-
• Feeling excessively energized or elated.
• Rapid speech or movement.
• Agitation, restlessness, or irritability.
• Risk-taking behavior, like spending excessive money or driving carelessly.
• Racing thoughts.
• Insomnia or trouble sleeping.
Prevalence and Causative Factors
Mood disorders can affect all age groups as children, adolescents, and adults. Major depression is twice more likely to affect women than men.
The development of mood disorders is thought to be caused by several factors, like-
• Biological factors: The brain's amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex control feelings and emotions. People with mood disorders have shown an enlarged amygdala on brain imaging tests.
• Genetic factors: Individuals with a family history of a mood disorder are more likely to develop mood disorders, suggesting that mood disorders are partly genetic.
• Environmental factors: Stressful life events, like the demise of a loved one; persistent stress; traumatic occurrences; and childhood abuse, trigger the evolution of a mood disorder later on in life, particularly depression. The presence of chronic illnesses may also trigger depression.
Diagnosis and Treatment
In persons experiencing mood disorder symptoms, a healthcare provider may conduct a physical examination to rule out physiological reasons for signs, like thyroid disease, other illnesses, or a vitamin deficiency. A mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, will then note a detailed description of your symptoms, sleeping and eating habits, and other behaviors to establish a diagnosis. It is crucial to share your medical history, any medications you're taking, and a history of mood disorder in the family member.
It's important to know that mood disorders are treatable. Even though it may take a while to tailor an individualized treatment plan, adhering to treatment will help get relief.
Treatment for mood disorders involves a mixture of medication and psychotherapy. The therapist may prescribe drugs like antidepressants, Mood stabilizers, antipsychotics (neuroleptics), etc., depending on the symptoms. They may also utilize other types of treatment, such as brain stimulation therapy.
Psychotherapy or talk therapy includes techniques to adjust unhealthy emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It may consist of Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), Psychodynamic therapy, etc. Other mood disorder treatments may include Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), or Light therapy.
When to visit a medical specialist –
A mood disorder may not go away on its own, instead may worsen over time. Getting professional help before a mood disorder becomes severe may make treating it easier. Most people with mood disorders get relief from medications and talk therapy (psychotherapy).
The person must urgently seek medical advice if they experience
• Their emotions are interfering with work, relationships, social activities, or other parts of life
• Difficulty with drinking or drugs
• Frequent occurrence of suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
The prognosis (outlook) for mood disorders will depend on several factors, like the type of condition and its severity, the time of diagnosis, and the proper treatment. Depression and bipolar disorder may recur and thus may require long-term or lifetime treatment.
Mood disorders are mental health conditions. Seeking medical/professional help at the earliest can help decrease the disruptions. A mental health professional can offer treatment plans to help manage the symptoms.
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