At the Holiner Psychiatric Group we understand that a mood disorder can be disruptive to everyday life, not just to those affected, but for loved ones as well. Everyone experiences emotional ups and downs in response to life changes, it’s when thoughts, feelings and behaviors become handicapping and put strain on relationships at home, work, or school that you may be experiencing mood disorder symptoms.
Depression and bipolar disorder can be emotionally debilitating for those affected and can hinder everyday life. Persistent feelings of sadness, periods of feeling overly happy, and other extreme mood fluctuations can all be classified as a mood disorder. Mood disorders do not discriminate among age groups, as they have been shown to even affect infants as young as six months old. A mood disorder that has gone undetected can lead to a slow recovery and worsen a prognosis in mental illness. It is normal for a person’s mood to change, and sad thoughts to occur. However, when emotions such as stress or feelings of isolation are long lasting, then seeking treatment is encouraged.
There are several types of mood disorders, but the most common are depression and bipolar disorder. The degree to which a person is affected by a mood disorder can vary, but all are characterized by a disturbance in a person’s mood as the underlying feature.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): A person has one or more major depressive episodes lasting more than a two-week period, and experiences five or more symptoms outside of normal behavior. Either depressed mood or decreased interest or pleasure must be one of the five, although they frequently occur together. Symptoms may include the following:
- Depressed mood such as feeling sad, empty, or hopeless
- Loss of interest for nearly all activities everyday
- Changes in eating habits
- Weight fluctuations
- Excessively sleeping, or lack of sleep
- Motor activity is agitated or slow
- Self-worth is questioned, feeling worthless or guilty
- Trouble concentrating
- Thoughts of death and suicide
Bipolar Disorder (BD): A person’s mood is characterized by episodes of alternating, elevated moods. A person may experience abnormal feelings of extreme happiness, energy, or excitability followed by extreme depression, guilt, or irritability.
Manic episodes can last at least one week and include an elevated or irritable mood. Other symptoms include:
- Speaking rapidly, easily distracted, racing thoughts
- Decreased need for sleep
- Impaired judgment
- Depressive episodes
- Feelings of sadness, anxiety, isolation, hopelessness, anger, or guilt
- Changes in sleep
- Changes in appetite
- Loss of interest in usually enjoyable activities
- Lack of concentration
- Social anxiety
- Thoughts of suicide
The causes of mood disorders are not fully understood. However, an imbalance of chemicals in the brain’s neurotransmitters is likely. Imbalances of three particular neurotransmitters – serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine – are contributors to mood imbalances. When depression occurs, these three chemicals are altered in the brain and likely cause the symptoms of mood disorders especially depression.
The hippocampus, the part of the brain that stores memories, is smaller in some people with a history of depression versus those who have never experienced depression. A smaller hippocampus means the brain has fewer receptors, which allows communication across the brain. Depression can be triggered by a multitude of factors such as abuse, medications, conflict, a death, genetics, or life events like starting a new job, divorce, or even graduating. Medical conditions, substance abuse, and traumatic life events are all possible causes of prolonged mood disorders. If turbulent feelings persist, then a mood disorder could be diagnosed.
Medical Treatment and Therapy
No one should have to be alone during these feelings of extreme mood changes, and you should never feel ashamed because of them. If you think you could have a mood disorder, you should reach out to a trained professional who can help you diagnose and treat your disorder. The sooner you can get help, the better because mood disorders do not only affect you. They affect your friends and family as well.
Medical treatment alone may not be enough, and therapy could be necessary. Members of The Holiner Psychiatric Group are here to help and guide you through a treatment plan that leaves you with a better state of mind.
You Are Not Alone
Mood disorders are very common. In the United States, about 20 percent of the population has at least one symptom in a given month. People with major depression also show signs of anxiety. Between 15 to 30 percent of people have panic attacks. Depressive disorders are more common in women (10 to 25 percent) than men (five to 12 percent). Depression occurs almost twice as often in adolescents than adults. The peak period of development is between the ages of 25 and 44 years.
If you have been diagnosed or think you may have a mood disorder, then contact The Holiner Psychiatric Group to begin a treatment plan to stop the feelings of depression and anxiety.