What are Mood Disorders?

What are mood disorders? Mood disorders are mental illnesses where the primary symptom is a disturbance in mood and they are amongst the most common diagnoses in psychiatry. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) distinguishes mood disorders from personality, anxiety, psychotic and eating disorders. Published by the American Psychiatric Association, The DSM-IV is the most commonly used mental illness classification system in the United States.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder, or unipolar depression, is characterized by a severely depressed mood that persists for a period of at least two weeks. Major depressive disorder significantly impairs an individual’s ability to function and results in pervasive psychological and physical disturbances.

The psychological disturbances include feelings of intense sadness, irritability, emptiness, helplessness and a lack of self-confidence. Individuals may display a reduced interest in previously enjoyed activities and hobbies and may feel overwhelmed by simple tasks and activities.

The physical effects of major depressive disorder include loss of energy, feelings of fatigue, sleep disturbances, appetite increase or decrease and decrease of sex drive. Individuals may feel or appear slowed down and report non-specific aches and pains that cannot be attributed to physical disorders or illness.

Bipolar Disorder

Previously known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is characterized by alternating periods of depression and intense highs known as mania. During mania an individual may feel euphoric, indulge in reckless behavior such as shoplifting and have higher than usual levels of self-esteem, excitability and extraversion.

Individuals may talk faster than normal, experience flights of ideas and have a reduced need for sleep and rest. In some cases individuals can experience depression and mania simultaneously, a state known as a mixed state. Bipolar disorder is divided into bipolar I and bipolar II. To meet the criteria for bipolar I an individual must have one manic episode. Bipolar II is characterized by periods of depression and hypomania. Hypomania is less severe than mania and does not necessarily impair social or occupational functioning.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder. Individuals with cyclothymia experience periods of hypomania (see above) and depressive symptoms either separately or in tandem with each other. Depressive symptoms do not meet the criteria for major depressive disorder. Cyclothymia is diagnosed if episodes of hypomania and depression occur for a period of least two years (one year in the case of children and adolescents) with no more than two symptom-free months in a row.

Dysthymic Disorder

Dysthymia is a milder form of depression than major depressive disorder. It is characterized by depressed mood for most of the day for the majority of a period of at least two years. Two or more of the following symptoms must be present during these two years: feelings of hopelessness, sleep disturbance, poor concentration, appetite disturbance, low energy, low self-esteem, irritability and low sex drive. Individuals with dysthymia do not experience mania or hypomania.

What are Mood Disorders? Sources

Mood Disorders – https://www.mcgill.ca/mentalhealth/depression/

Mood Disorders –https://www.cmha.ca/bins/content_page.asp?cid=3-86

Manic Depressive/Bipolar Disorder – https://www.mooddisorders.on.ca/bipolar.html

Psychiatric Disorders – https://allpsych.com/disorders/mood/index.html