MOOD DISORDERS: What you should know.

By Steve Baldridge

Contrary to what social media may lead you to believe, nobody is happy all the time. We all experience emotional ups and downs, but we need to understand what is normal and when we should be concerned.

The term “mood disorder” broadly describes all types of depression including Major Depression, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder and more. Individuals at any age can have a mood disorders.

The most common types of mood disorders are:

  • Major depression. Having less interest in normal activities, feeling sad or hopeless, and other symptoms for at least 2 weeks may mean depression.
  • Dysthymia (Persistent Depressive Disorder) is an ongoing (chronic), low-grade, depressed, or irritable mood that lasts for at least 2 years.
  • Bipolar disorder. With this condition a person has times of depression alternating with times of mania or a higher mood.

 Then there are mood disorders linked to another health condition. Many health conditions (including cancer, injuries, infections, and chronic illnesses) can trigger symptoms of depression.

In substance-induced mood disorder, symptoms of depression are due to, or exacerbated by, the effects of medicine, drug abuse, alcoholism, exposure to toxins, or other forms of treatment.

 Identifying those at increased risk of developing a mood disorder can be difficult, but researchers believe individuals who have a parent with a mood disorder have a greater chance of also having a mood disorder. Sometimes life's problems can trigger depression. Events such as being fired from a job, getting divorced, losing a loved one, having a death in the family, and financial trouble can be difficult to deal with, and can overwhelm our normally adequate coping skills exposing or worsening our feelings of sadness or depression, thus making the feelings harder to manage.

 The symptoms of mood disorders may seem like other medical conditions or other mental health problems. Always talk with a healthcare provider for a diagnosis. Depending on age and the type of mood disorder, a person may experience different symptoms of depression. The following are some of the most common symptoms of a mood disorder:
Ongoing sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Feeling hopeless or helpless
Having low self-esteem
Feeling inadequate or worthless
Excessive guilt
Repeating thoughts of death or suicide, wishing to die, or attempting suicide (Call 911. People with this symptom should get treatment right away.)
Not interested in normal activities or activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
Relationship problems
Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
Changes in appetite or weight
Decreased energy
Trouble focusing
Decreased ability to make decisions
Frequent physical complaints (for example, headache, stomachache, or tiredness) that don’t get better with treatment
Running away or threats of running away from home
Very sensitive to failure or rejection
Irritability, hostility, or aggression

In mood disorders, these feelings are more intense than what a person may normally feel from time to time. It’s also concerning if these feelings continue over time, or if they interfere with someone's interest in family, friends, community, or work. Any person who has thoughts of suicide should get medical help right away. 

Mood disorders can often be treated successfully. Treatment may include:

  • Antidepressant and mood-stabilizing medicines. When used correctly, these medicines can work very well in lessening the severity of mood disorders, especially when combined with other therapies.
  • Therapy (often cognitive-behavioral or interpersonal therapy) is focused on changing the person’s distorted view of themselves and their environment. It also helps to improve relationship skills, and guide the person as they identify specific stressors in the environment, and how to stay away from those stressors.
  • Family therapy. Since a mood disorder can affect all aspects of a family (emotional, physical, and financial), family therapy can help both the person with the diagnosis and family members. Families play a vital supportive role in any treatment process.

 Individuals with a mood disorder may have times of stability and times when symptoms return. Long-term, continuous treatment can help an individual stay healthy and control symptoms. The good news is, when correctly diagnosed and treated, people with mood disorders can live stable, productive, healthy lives.

 UH Samaritan’s Todd Yordy, MA, LPCC-S will present “Mood Disorders: When will it end?” Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. in the UH Administrative Services Building,
663 East Main Street, Ashland, OH

Register for this FREE program by calling 419-207-2563 or email Steven.Baldridge@UHhospitals.org

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