Mood Disorders

It’s normal to experience ups and downs in life, but a mood disorder is different. It goes beyond temporary sadness and affects your thoughts, feelings, behavior, mood and physical health.

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Nearly 1 in 10 people aged 18 and older have a mood disorder, including depression and bipolar disorder. Mood disorders are characterized by extreme changes in mood, thoughts and behavior that last more than two weeks. These feelings interfere with your ability to function at work, school and during social activities. 

Types of mood disorders include:

  • Major depression. When feelings of sadness and hopelessness affect your ability to work, sleep, eat and enjoy life, it's considered major depression. If the depression persists at least two years, it's known as persistent depressive disorder.
  • Bipolar disorder. Also known as manic-depressive disorder, bipolar disorder is marked by extreme changes in mood, ranging from extremely depressed and lethargic to elated and energetic (manic). Changes in mood can last for hours, days, weeks or months. The highs and lows are frequently seasonal — depression is more common in the winter, and manic episodes are more common in the spring.

A few types of depression can occur under certain circumstances. Women can develop postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of a child, when hormonal and physical changes — along with the responsibilities of motherhood — can be overwhelming. For those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), depression sets in during the winter months when there's less natural sunlight, and mood generally lifts in spring and summer.

In addition, certain medical conditions — such as cancer, viruses, infections, chronic illness or injuries — can cause symptoms of depression. Similarly, depression symptoms can be triggered by medications or other forms of treatment, a substance-use disorder and environmental toxins.

Symptoms of Depression

The symptoms of depression aren't the same for everyone. People experience the severity, frequency and duration of symptoms differently. Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:

  • Prolonged feelings of sadness or emptiness, or unexplained crying.
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities and social interaction.
  • Feeling anxious, angry, irritable, worried or restless.
  • Decreased energy, fatigue and feeling indifferent.
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns.
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and hopelessness.
  • Unexplained aches and pains.
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide.

Although the depressive phase of bipolar disorder is similar to depression, bipolar disorder also includes extreme mood shifts that disrupt everyday activities. People with bipolar disorder may also experience psychotic symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Depression and bipolar disorder — even the most severe instances — can be treated effectively. The first step is to visit a doctor or mental health specialist to rule out a medical condition that could be causing the symptoms.

If there are no underlying physical causes, a psychiatric assessment can help evaluate the problem to determine the best course of treatment. Mood disorders can be treated with medications or psychotherapy, often a combination of both. The exact treatment will be based on the individual’s condition and needs.

At the Scrivner Center for Mental Health & Addiction Services, our mental health professionals are experts at diagnosing and treating mood disorders. Using the latest techniques and therapies, our team of professionals can provide a full spectrum of care. We offer acute inpatient care and electroconvulsive therapy for severe conditions to outpatient treatment — including specialized programs for older adults, new mothers and adolescents

Our mental health and addiction specialists are dedicated to providing safe, supportive care with respect and compassion.