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Defining Mood Disorders
Mood disorders, also call affective disorders, may be defined as ‘a variety of conditions characterized by a disturbance in mood as the main feature. If mild and occasional, the feelings may be normal. If more severe, they may be a sign of a major depressive disorder or dysthymic reaction or be symptomatic of a bipolar disorder. Other mood disorders may be caused by a general medical condition. Mood disorder is a DSM-IV term.’
We’re all familiar with the way moods come and go. What makes a mood disorder different is the fact that they last a long time and they affect people’s lives. The key emotions in the list of mood disorders are depression and mania. Depression is roughly ten times more common than mania. it is estimated that at any one time around five percent of the adult female population suffers from it, compared with just over two percent of males.
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Extremes of Mood
Depression and mania are two extremes of mood. The World Health Organization defines depression as, ‘a common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. These problems can become chronic or recurrent and lead to substantial impairments in an individual's ability to take care of his or her everyday responsibilities. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide, a tragic fatality associated with the loss of about 850 000 lives every year.’
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Mania, by contrast, may be defined as, ‘an abnormally elevated mood state characterized by such symptoms as inappropriate elation, increased irritability, severe insomnia, grandiose notions, increased speed and/or volume of speech, disconnected and racing thoughts, increased sexual desire, markedly increased energy and activity level, poor judgment, and inappropriate social behavior. A mild form in mania that does not require hospitalization is termed hypomania.’
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Major Depressive Disorders
Major depressive disorder (often referred to as unipolar depression) contrasts with bipolar disorder, which is characterized by the occurrence of one or more manic or hypomanic episodes. The diagnosis of either will then fall into a category and a subcategory. What follows is a list of Common Mood Disorders:
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Major depressive disorders are on our list of mood disorders and are subcategorized into a single episode or recurrent episodes, in which two or more depressive episodes occur. The core symptoms of depression include:
- Sadness, apathy, unhappiness, apathy, anxiety.
- Pessimism, guilt, negative thinking, low motivation, poor concentration, suicidal thoughts.
- Lack of interest in personal appearance and hygiene, agitation, sluggish movements.
- Changes in appetite, constipation, loss of sex drive, sleep disturbances, menstrual cycle disruption.
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The core symptoms of mania include:
- Elation, grandiosity, irritability.
- Pressure of thoughts, easily distractible with flighty ideas and poor judgement.
- Overactive speech.
- High levels of arousal and decreased need for sleep.
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Another sub-category of depression is dysthymic disorder. This is characterized by a chronic and relatively continual set of symptoms that are similar to major depressive disorder but which do not quite meet the full diagnostic criteria.
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Subcategories include Bipolar I and Bipolar II disorders. A further subcategory is cyclothymic disorder which, like dysthymic disorder, is a chronic and relatively continual set of symptoms, in which the person is never free from symptoms for more than two months.
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Bipolar I Disorders
Bipolar I disorders include:
- Single manic episode, in which the presence of one manic episode and no past major depressive episodes.
- Most recent episode hypomanic, in which currently (or most recently) a hypomanic episode has occurred, with at least one previous manic episode.
- Most recent episode manic, in which currently (or most recently) a manic episode has occurred, with at least one previous hypomanic episode.
- Most recent episode mixed, in which symptoms of major depression and manic episode have both been met.
- Most recent episode depressed, in which currently (or most recently) a major depressive episode has occurred, with at least one previous manic episode.
- Most recent episode unspecified, in which symptoms meet the criteria for depression and/or mania but not the duration required.
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Bipolar II Disorder
Bipolar II disorder includes recurrent major depressive episodes with hypomania.
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Other Mood Disorders
The list of mood disorders also covers disturbances in mood brought about by a medical condition. Moreover, substance-induced mood disorder is characterized by a persistent disturbance in mood, attributable to substance misuse
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Benazzi, F. (2007) Bipolar disorder-focus on bipolar II disorder and mixed depression. Lancet, 369, 935-45.
"Depression." Mental Health. World Health Organization, n.d. Web. 18 Nov 2010. <http://www.who.int/mental_health/management/depression/definition/en/index.html>.
Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.
Sue, D., Sue, D.W., Sue, S. (2000) Understanding Abnormal Behavior (6th Ed) Houghton Mifflin.