A mood disorder is a chronic mental illness that severely impacts an individual’s ability to regulate their emotions. There are several different types of mood disorders; however, most classifications share a few common characteristics: routinely experienced distorted emotional states, extreme or manic highs and lows, persistent feelings of depression, and lack of control over one’s feelings.
Mood disorders cause significant challenges in the daily lives of those living with a diagnosis. In extreme cases, a person with a mood disorder can become incapacitated by devastating mood swings or crippling anxiety and may feel unable to complete regular tasks. In addition, many people experience physical symptoms such as migraines, stomach pain, chronic fatigue, and insomnia. Mood disorders can affect anyone, regardless of age or circumstances in life.
Types of Mood Disorders
The most commonly diagnosed mood disorders include:
- Major Depressive Disorder — Characterized by overpowering and recurring feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in usual activities lasting at least two weeks or more, Major Depressive Disorder affects more than 16 million adults in the US alone. Women are nearly twice as likely to experience major depression as men, though some experts believe this is partially because women are more likely to seek out treatment. If left untreated, severe cases of depression can lead to significant cognitive and functional impairment.
- Bipolar Disorder — This disorder can cause extreme mood swings from debilitating depression to intense, elevated emotional states called mania. During manic episodes, people living with BD often feel they have little or no control over their actions and may engage in potentially dangerous behaviors. There are three subtypes: Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and Cyclothymic Disorder.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder — Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder related to the changing of the seasons and the number of hours of daylight from fall to spring. Symptoms include depression, lethargy, and sleep problems and typically begin during late fall or early winter and lessen during the sunnier days of spring and summer.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder — Formerly known as Dysthymia, this classification includes both cases of Major Depressive Disorder lasting two or more years as well as lower grade feelings of depression lasting at least two years.
- Substance-Induced Mood Disorder — In some cases, depression and other symptoms including mood swings and fatigue can be caused by the use of prescription medications, drugs, or alcohol. Even without a prior history of mental illness, substance abuse can have a severely negative impact on one’s mental health. Addiction and symptoms of withdrawal often require professional treatment.
It’s important to note that symptoms and intensity of symptoms can vary significantly from person to person, and both may fluctuate over time. No two lived experiences will be exactly the same.
Causes of Mood Disorders
While there is no single answer for what causes a mood disorder, experts believe a combination of genetics, brain chemistry, and stressful or traumatic life events play a role. Having a direct relative with a mood disorder dramatically increases one’s likelihood of being diagnosed with a mental illness.
Mood Disorder Treatment
Proper treatment for a mood disorder requires professional care. Outpatient treatment options such as LAT’s Intensive Outpatient Program provide a personalized, flexible alternative to inpatient rehabilitation or hospitalization. Through group therapy sessions and evidence-based training and education, including one-on-one coaching and counseling tailored to your individual needs, we teach you or your loved one the skills needed to create a stable foundation and build meaning in your life. As we identify and assess the areas you want help with, we’ll work together to create an individualized treatment plan.
Contact Life Adjustment Team
At LAT, we’re dedicated to helping every client achieve the highest level of functioning and well-being possible. We bring over 40 years of clinical experience and evidenced based treatment methods to you, where you are, to help you achieve your goals and realize your highest potential. Our Team also provides assistance through care coordination to connect you or your loved one with local services to meet your transportation needs, improve living situations, and solve problems in your life. Contact a member of our clinical team today to get started on your journey to “Learning To Live Well.”