A mood disorder is a class of mental health disorders that encompasses both depression and bipolar disorders. Mood disorders aren’t limited to any age category but can occur in young adults, teenagers, adults of all ages. Unfortunately, the symptoms of these disorders may vary from person to person. It’s not likely that the same people will have the same symptoms if they are of different ages, for example. Self-care, therapy, and antidepressants can help with a mood disorder. Mood disorders span all class and racial boundaries and extend across geographical constraints.
In recent years, many people have started to experience mood disorders prevalently. In the past, diagnoses for these disorders were tentative. However, reclassification of these disorders in the DSM-V saw more rigid qualifiers added for diagnosis. As a result, it’s much easier for diagnosing professionals to say with certainty that a person has one of these disorders. The more solid qualification for diagnosis also meant a better methodology for treating these disorders in the future. Before we explore the treatments for these disorders, it’s crucial to understand what qualifies as a mood disorder and what doesn’t.
What Is a Mood Disorder?
Mood disorders, as previously explained, cover depressive disorders and bipolar disorders. However, these aren’t very descriptive subclasses for the types of mood disorders they are. Within each of these divisions are further subdivisions of mood disorders. Here are some examples of mood disorders that practitioners may encounter during their work.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is also known as clinical depression or unipolar depression. A person who has been through a single of these depressive episodes may be diagnosed with a single case of MDD. Individuals who suffer from recurrent MDD are at a higher risk of suicide than the average individual. Within MDD are several subclassifies for depression, including:
- Atypical Depression (AD): AD is characterized by positivity, mood reactivity, weight gain fueled by comfort-eating, and excessive sleeping. These combined create a situation where the person’s body can’t burn the carbs they take in, leading to weight gain.
- Melancholic Depression: This disorder shows up as a loss of pleasure in activities that the person previously found pleasurable. There’s also a failure to react to pleasurable stimuli.
- Psychotic Major Depression (PMD): PMD is a major depressive episode where a person may experience delusions or (less commonly) hallucinations.
- Catatonic Depression: In catatonic depression, a patient may experience breaks in their motor functionality. They may become immobile or have limited motion.
- Post-Partum Depression (PPD): PPD is a typical result of giving birth, and many mothers experience it. While it’s common for women to experience a week or so of tiredness and sadness after giving birth, PPD goes well beyond that and leads to undesirable outcomes for both the mother and her child.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): SAD is also known as “winter depression” or “winter blues” since it typically takes place in the winter months. Researchers have pinpointed that it tends to occur at a higher frequency in latitudes that don’t have much sunny weather throughout the year.
Bipolar disorders are also known as manic-depressive disorders. It is characterized by a cycle of persistent high moods (mania) followed by long-lasting depression. Among the subtypes of bipolar disorders are:
- Bipolar I: This subtype is classified by manic episodes or mixed episodes, with a tendency towards the manic. Bipolar I diagnosis doesn’t require depressive episodes.
- Bipolar II: Bipolar II has a mix of manic and depressive episodes, and it’s what most individuals think about when bipolar disorder is mentioned.
- Cyclothymia: Cyclothymia is a bipolar disorder where the patient doesn’t hit the heights of mania nor the complete lows of depression, yet ranges between those extremes.
- Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (BD-NOS): BD-NOS is also known as “sub-threshold” bipolar. Patients with this diagnosis display some symptoms of bipolar disorder, but not all of them.
How Does a Mood Disorder Arise?
Researchers have spent years trying to figure out the causes of mood disorders, but there seems to be far more than a single source. Genetic factors sometimes influence whether a person will develop a mood disorder within their lifetime. Physical brain injuries may also be a cause since the typical thought patterns within a healthy person’s brain may have changed. A person’s life events may also contribute to a mood disorder. Life events that intensely impact a person’s psyche can lead to depression that might overtake their normal thought process. Events such as losing a job or breaking up from a long-term relationship may factor into this feeling of depression.
Statistical analysis of individuals with major depressive disorder shows that women are almost twice as likely to fall prey to a mood disorder than men. Once one person within the family has a diagnosis, it’s more likely their children may also suffer from the condition.
Signs Of a Mood Disorder
Mood disorders actually have several symptoms that can help diagnose them. Among the most common symptoms of mood disorders are:
- Repeated suicidal thoughts or plans (Ideation)
- Irritability or aggression marked by hostility
- Threats of (or actions of) running away from home
- Physical complaints such as stomach or headaches
- Inability to make decisions and act on them
- Trouble focusing on any task
- Lack of motivation
- Decreased appetite, which leads to significant weight loss
- Excessive guilt
- Feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, or hopelessness
- Low self-esteem
Typically, these symptoms may start off muted, but they are likely to increase over time and eventually become unavoidable. Suicidal ideation can be the most dangerous symptom to notice, and patients who have this symptom should seek a professional immediately for treatment.
How Is a Mood Disorder Diagnosed?
Mood disorders are serious illnesses. While many people claim self-diagnosis, these disorders are too complex for an untrained individual to diagnose them. Professionals trained in the field of mental health should be trusted to diagnose these disorders and help with treatment. Even so, diagnosing these conditions is tricky. The only way diagnosis can happen is by studying the patient’s complete medical and mental health history.
Suicidal Ideation and Acute Care
Suicidal ideation happens when a person has thoughts about killing themselves. These thoughts may or may not be accompanied by a detailed plan. Sometimes, the thoughts of suicide are just in passing, but they may become more frequent over time. A patient displaying suicidal ideation may likely attempt suicide at some point. Suicidal patients usually have special needs within the facility where they may be kept. Mental health professionals may assess a patient and decide that they are a high-risk case for this outcome. These individuals may be admitted to acute care so that they can remain under supervision.
A person in acute care has the benefit of a mental health professional who may be able to help them avoid the thoughts that could lead to the undesirable outcome. Mental health professionals may be trained to help such individuals and guide them back to a more stable mental state. However, long-term care for these patients usually means accepting they have a problem and going to a therapist for help.
Dual Diagnosis and Self Medication
Individuals who self-medicate for mental illness are typically the most likely to abuse alcohol or drugs. Dual diagnosis is when a person has a drug or alcohol use disorder alongside a mental health disorder. Sometimes individuals with this condition may not even be aware of their latent mental health disorder. They may go to a rehab center for recovery treatment and learn about their mental health problems. While mental health treatment is acceptable and even expected in some facets of society, it still has a negative connotation in others. The stigma attached to individuals who suffer from mental health issues might lead a person toward self-medication rather than seeking out genuine help for their condition.
Self-medication happens when a person decides to take medication without the guidance or advice of a medical professional. Even taking pills for a headache could count as self-medication. However, as the disorder a person is treating becomes more complex, the input from a professional is vital to ensure that the proper treatment happens. Self-medication usually occurs in individuals addicted to a substance because they associate the medication with feeling better.
Forms Of Mood Disorder Treatment
Mood disorders may seem complex, but they can be treated successfully. Treatment varies by professional, but they usually have several options that they can use to alleviate a patient’s suffering. These include:
- Antidepressants and Mood Stabilizers: Patients may have access to medication to help them manage their condition. These medications work best when combined with psychotherapy. On their own, they have limited success.
- Psychotherapy: The most common treatment method used by professionals is psychotherapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy tends to be used most often. These methods help a patient by changing the opposing views and opinions they hold about themselves. They can also improve the patient’s interpersonal skills and thereby help their relationships with others.
- Family Therapy: A support network is vital in helping a patient overcome their mental disorder. The family is the core part of this support network. Therapy sessions, along with the rest of a patient’s family, will give them a better chance of recovery.
- Other therapies: Other therapies include experimental technologies, electroconvulsive treatment, etc.
Mood disorders happen without warning. So far, science doesn’t have any way of predicting who these disorders will affect, so patients require treatment after they show up. Early diagnosis and treatment will help a patient avoid severe symptoms. Treatment for mood disorders will be unique to the patient since no two patients’ mental health conditions are precisely the same. Analysis and diagnosis followed by continual treatment updates are critical in helping the patient overcome their condition over the long term.
Evidence-Based Treatment for Mood Disorders
Clinical healthcare focuses on tangible directives for diagnosis. With the new guidelines for diagnosing mental health conditions, there’s no parity between these two medical diagnostic systems. Thanks to these more concrete definitions for mental health disorders, professionals are also implementing treatment systems to measure and offer feedback for improvement. The goal of these treatments is to guide the patient towards an optimal level of functioning within their lives. For a medical professional to achieve this, they need to provide empirically-based treatment.
The empirically-based assessment looks at the descriptions provided by a patient and compares them to the things that the professional should watch out for. Appearance, mindset, and especially the depth of suicidal ideation all factor into the assessment. Continual assessment is also necessary to ensure that the patient’s mental state doesn’t degrade. If the professional thinks that there is a risk of this occurring, they should push for more regular sessions to be a closer eye on the patient’s mental state. Other items that are of interest are the client’s current medication and additional information pertinent to their mental state. The DSM-V has clearly defined diagnostic criteria that professionals can rely on for their diagnosis.
Can Mood Disorders Be Improved Long Term?
Mood disorders can last for a long time. However, with the proper treatment and regular visits to the mental health professional, a mood disorder can be dealt with over the long term. The most important step is accepting that the patient needs help from a professional. It’s easy to rely on self-medication to overcome a mental disorder, but this road can lead to even more complications. Dual diagnosis and substance-fueled mood disorders can be dangerous and lead to terrible outcomes for the patient.
South Shores Recovery has a well-trained staff that knows how to deal with depressive disorders and bipolar disorders. Our skilled team has been trained to recognize and diagnose these issues and provide long-term care and treatment to our patients. You shouldn’t be a slave to your mental state. Contact us today and let us help you overcome this problem. With our help, you can manage your mental health condition over the long term and eventually overcome it.