Waiting for today...: What is Mood Disorder?

What is Mood Disorder?

While mood refers to a prolonged emotion, a condensed definition of mood disorder, also called affective disorder, is “any of a group of psychiatric disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder, characterized by a pervasive disturbance of mood that is not caused by an organic abnormality” (The Free Dictionary Medical Dictionary, 2014).

SparkNotes on Psychological Disorders (2005) offers a more comprehensive summary of mood disorders: “characterized by marked disturbances in emotional state, which affect thinking, physical symptoms, social relationships, and behavior. If mood is viewed as a continuum, mood disorders occur when a person experiences moods that lie at either extreme of the continuum.

Mood disorders are of two basic types: unipolar or bipolar. People with unipolar disorders experience moods that are at the depressive end of the continuum. People with bipolar disorders experience moods that are at both ends of the continuum.

Mood disorders are generally episodic, which means they tend to come and go. The duration of the disturbed emotional state and the pattern of its occurrence determine how a mood disorder is diagnosed” and how it is treated.

Depression Signs and Symptoms:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment (NIMH, 2011)

for additional information such as causes and treatments visit The National Institute of Mental Healthsee also: Seasonal Affective Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder

Most people diagnosed with mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan. Numerous treatments and services for mental illnesses are available.

The choice and combination of treatment and services selected depends in most cases on the type of mental illness, the severity of symptoms, the availability of options and decisions determined by the individual, often in consultation with their healthcare provider and others.
Most people with mental illness report that a combination of treatments, services and supports works best to support their recovery” (NAMI, 1996-2014).

Many medical illnesses mimic signs and symptoms of psychological illnesses.  In the case that a medical illness is ruled out, your primary care provider will refer you to see a licensed practitioner  who will  assess, diagnose and help you to construct a treatment plan to best suit your needs.  Treatment can include but may not be limited to psychotherapy, medication, and healthy lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.  

Aside from seeing a professional, it is imperative that you do your 
own research.

If you live in the United States and are suffering an acute crisis and/or having feelings of harming yourself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 800-273-8255 or visit your local hospital’s emergency department for immediate assistance.

US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Mental Health.  (Revised 2011). Depression (NIH Publication No. 11-3561).  Retrieved March 3rd, 2014 from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/depression-booklet.pdf

Mood disorder (Def. 1). The Free Dictionary Medical Dictionary Online. Retrieved May 3rd, 2014 from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/mood+disorder

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (1996-2014). Treatment and Services. Retrieved May 3rd, 2014 from http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=About_Treatments_and_Supports

SparkNotes Editor. (2005). Psychological Disorders Mood Disorders. SparkNotes. Retrieved Mary 3rd, 2014 from http://www.sparknotes.com/psychology/psych101/disorders/section4.rhtml

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