Mood Disorders

When you have a mood disorder, it causes your overall mood or emotional state to distort or become inconsistent with the situations and circumstances you face.

Mood disorders can cause you to become excessively irritable, emotionally vacant or sad and impede on your capacity to function normally.

They could also cause you to swing between extreme opposing emotions like happiness and sadness. Your risk of committing suicide increases in the presence of most types of mood disorders.

There are many different types of mood disorders, among the most common are depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder. In addition to specific mood disorders, some other medical and mental health issues can influence your mood similarly to a mood disorder, such as anxiety disorders.

If you believe you or someone you love may be suffering from a mood disorder, then get a professional evaluation immediately. If a mood disorder is indeed present, then you or your loved one can start treatment as soon as possible and get on the path to a clearer mind, more manageable emotions and a more normal life.


Despite common mental health misconceptions, depression is more than a mere feeling of sadness akin to what most people feel now and then. Rather, it is a serious and persistent brain illness faced by over 20 million Americans.

In addition to sadness, depression can also lead to weight changes, sleeping problems, fatigue, a sense of worthlessness, lack of pleasure or interest in formerly enjoyed activities and suicidal thoughts.

Depression can be the result of a range of biochemical, psychological, environmental and genetic factors. There are different types of depression, most notably the following:

  • Major depressive disorder – Persistent and prolonged times of excessive sadness
  • Dysthymia (persistent depressive disorder) – A chronic form of long-term depression
  • Depression related to medical illness – An ongoing state of extreme sadness and a major decline in satisfaction derived from all or most life activities that involve the physical repercussions of some other health condition
  • Depression induced by medication or substance use – Symptoms of depression developed while or shortly after exposure to medicine or during or following use or withdrawal of substances

It typically begins when a person is between 15 and 30 years of age and occurs more commonly in women. Effective treatments for depression include antidepressant medications and forms of talking therapy.

Bipolar Disorder

Known as bipolar affective disorder and manic depression, bipolar disorder is actually another form of depression, only one that alternates with moments of mania, or extreme happiness.

The cause for this illness is not clearly understood, although a hereditary component is known. Also involved may be aberrations in brain function and structure.

Bipolar disorder typically begins when a person is in his or her late teens or young adult years, although older adults and children can have it as well. Bipolar disorder generally lasts for a person’s whole life.

Untreated bipolar disorder can cause poor performance at school or work, harm relationships and even lead to suicide. Treatments for mental health found effective for bipolar disorder include medications and forms of talking therapy, often most effective when used in combination.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

When the hours of daylight are few, some people get another kind of depression associated with the lack of natural light and the prevalence of dark. As such, the condition is more common among those living in extreme north and south latitudes, particularly between late fall and early spring. Symptoms of SAD can vary widely and may include the following:

  • Suicidal thoughts or ideation
  • Weight changes
  • Oversleeping or trouble sleeping
  • Trouble making decisions, remembering facts and concentrating
  • Lowered energy and a feeling of fatigue
  • A decline in satisfaction, enjoyment or interest in activities in which you once found pleasure
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • A sense of helplessness, worthlessness and guilt
  • A sense of pessimism or hopelessness
  • Feelings of anxiety, sadness and emptiness

One common treatment for SAD is light therapy, although light therapy alone is insufficient for almost half of SAD sufferers. Doctors also prescribe mental health medications, such as antidepressants, along with or instead of light therapy as a treatment for seasonal affective disorder.


If you harm your own body on purpose, then you may have a lesser known but surprisingly common mood disorder known as “self-harm.” Self-harm affects approximately one in 100 people, more females than males.

People who self-harm are not suicidal, although, if help is not sought for their condition in time, they are in greater danger of attempting suicide. People who self-harm tend to start acting on these impulses at an early age, usually as teenagers or young adults.

There are some who may dabble in self-harm a few times and never do it again. Other people do it repeatedly, even chronically, and find it difficult to stop and should seek mental health help.

Some people self-harm because they believe it provides them with a feeling of relief. Others do it as a way of dealing with their problems. Still, other people who self-harm claim they do it to stop other feelings like hopelessness, anger or loneliness. Some of the ways people self-harm include the following:

  • Cutting – Using a sharp object like a knife or razor blade to cut the skin
  • Punching – Either punching oneself or other objects, such as the wall
  • Burning – Using lit candles, matches or cigarettes to burn the skin
  • Hair-pulling – Pulling one’s own hair out
  • Penetration – Poking things through bodily orifices
  • Bruising or breaking your own bones

Other Mood Disorders

In addition to the most common mood disorders are other less common mood disorders that are nevertheless experienced by people every day. Cyclothymic disorder is marked by emotional swings up and down, but not as severe as those in cases of bipolar disorder.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder includes irritability and mood shifts taking place while a woman goes through the premenstrual phase of her menstrual cycle and abating when menses onsets.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder occurs in children and is a persistent, severe and chronic irritability frequently marked by temper tantrums and emotional outbursts uncharacteristic for children of the given child’s age group.

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