What are Mood Disorders?
Mood disorders describe a category of disorders related to changes in mood. There are many classifications of mood disorders including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and cyclothymia.
Mood disorders are common and about 20% of the U.S. population is reported to have at least one depressive symptoms in a given month and 12% have reported two or more depressive symptoms. Bipolar disorder is less common and currently occurs in 1% of the general population. Individuals with other psychiatric disorders have a higher chance of developing major depression as compared to others with a single diagnosis of major depression.
Substance abusers have a high rate of depression or other mood disorder and are often diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder. There is a general consensus in the psychiatric community that substance abuse can lead to a mood disorder or a mood disorder can lead to substance abuse. Substance abusers have reported that when they feel depressed, they will often take substances that will take them out of their depressed mood if even on a temporary basis. If an individual enters recovery for their substance abuse, often the depression will clear up on its own.
Many individuals feel depressed or sad but this is generally due to a life occurrence where one would normally feel depression. Such occurrences can include divorce, loss of a job, financial hardships, or death of a family member. People can also feel sad or depressed due to health issues either in themselves or with a family member. Depressed moods can also be caused by hormonal changes or the weather.
Depression and other mood disorders become problematic when the symptoms last for two weeks or longer. Many of the symptoms associated with mood disorders last considerably longer. In addition, there is a cause for concern when the symptoms interfere with daily functioning. Some of the more common symptoms associated with mood disorders include overwhelming sadness or despair, sleeping too much or sleeping too little, weight loss, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable.
All mood disorders are treatable and many individuals have found help through individual therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is quite common in treating mood disorders, as this form of therapy can help the individual recognize and alter negative thought processes that maintain a person’s depressed mood. Many other individuals have found antidepressant medication to be beneficial.