types of mood disorders

There are several types of mood disorders that can negatively impact your ability to function in basic daily activities. A mood disorder is characterized by a serious and persistent change in mood.

In this article, we’re exploring several types of mood disorders as well as the treatment available.

Types of Mood Disorders

Mood refers to our overall experience of wellbeing. The mood is more than just a set of feelings. Feelings can come and go, and they are typically related to whatever situation is presently at hand. Mood, on the other hand, is something that persists in spite of changes in environment, activity, or interaction. When our mood is affecting us in a way that hinders our ability to live our best life, there may be a mood disorder at work.

The following are eight of the most common types of mood disorders that are diagnosed.

1. Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is one of the most common mental health diagnoses being provided in modern times. The specific diagnosis will make reference to the severity, frequency, and manifestations of the depression. In order to qualify for a diagnosis of MDD, a low – or depressed – mood must have persisted for at least two weeks. Depressed mood includes feelings of hopelessness, loss of enjoyment and or interest in activities, sadness or crying spells, eating and sleeping disruptions, and thoughts of death or suicide.

2. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder was previously referred to as manic-depressive disorder. The key feature of this mood disorder is that a person struggling with it will alternate between depressed mood and elevated mood. The elevated period is considered mania, and the extremity of the mania that is experienced will determine whether there is a diagnosis of Bipolar I, or of Bipolar II. With Bipolar I, the mania tends to be characterized by racing thoughts, impulsivity, risk-taking, lack of need for sleep, and disorganized thinking. Those with Bipolar II may only experience their highs as a feeling that is slightly better than the lows. This lessor experience of elevated mood is called hypomania.

3. Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is experienced only during predictable times of the year. The experience of such has been documented as far back as in the days of ancient Greece. The low mood is most commonly experienced during the winter months, leading many researchers to conclude that the lower levels of sunlight available during these dreary months play a role in the mood shift. The patterned experience of this disorder can be easily overlooked by someone who is coming in to seek treatment for depression. A careful interview by the diagnosing treatment provider will help to highlight the cyclical nature of the disorder.

4. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Jokes about the emotional volatility of females who are approaching their monthly menstrual cycle have been around for ages. While it is true that many women experience mood fluctuations as a result of monthly hormone shifts, the experience for some women is much more drastic. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) shares many characteristics with the typical premenstrual syndrome, but the amount of disruption to normal functioning that occurs is sustained and disruptive. The consequences of mood fluctuations during this time can include crying, paranoia, low self-esteem, irritability, insomnia, nervousness, and fatigue. Physical problems can also be present, compounding the difficulty of managing the mental health symptoms.

5. Postpartum Depression

Another mood disorder that is exclusive to the biologically female sex is that of Postpartum Depression. Similar to what is considered to be at the root of PMDD, hormone fluctuations are believed to be the source of the experience of Postpartum Depression. During pregnancy, the body undergoes a host of chemical and physical changes. After birth, there is a rapid adjustment that takes place. This relatively sudden switch back to a non-pregnant state can wreak havoc on a woman’s mood. If these mood fluctuations persist longer than a month after giving birth – or become severe –  a diagnosis of Postpartum Depression is warranted.

6. Persistent Depressive Disorder

While the above mood disorders tend to be accompanied by symptoms that are easily observable by self and others, Persistent Depressive Disorder is more discrete. A common name for this disorder is dysthymia, which refers to an ongoing lack of enthusiasm toward life. People who suffer from dysthymia may just consider that pessimism is part of their personality.

7. Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) is a mood disorder that involves an inability to control behaviors related to feelings of anger and irritation. In contrast to mood disorders which primarily manifest as depression, someone with IED will typically experience a rush of adrenaline and energy prior to lashing out – either verbally or physically – at others. Any depressive feelings only occur after the outburst. While it is considered normal to occasionally feel as though we are operating with on a short fuse, someone with IED will experience it in a way that negatively impacts careers, relationships, or other daily functioning needs.

8. Substance-Induced Mood Disorders

As with many other types of mental health disorders, drugs and alcohol can play a role as the main precipitator. With substance-induced mood disorder, any of the symptoms which are referenced in the above list can be present. Rather than considering the symptoms to be a matter of mental health, however, they are considered to be a result of the outside chemical influence. As substance abuse problems are often developed as a result of untreated and underlying mental health issues, removing the negative influence of the drug addiction problem may reveal that one of these other mood disorders is lurking.

Treatment for Mood Disorders

The type of treatment that is effective for a mood disorder will depend on both the type of mood disorder and the preferences of the individual who is dealing with it. Medication treatment for mood disorders has increased in popularity over the past several decades, with the number of people who rely on medications to control their symptoms outnumbering those who engage in other forms of treatment. For those who wish to either combine – or replace – the use of psychiatric medications with other avenues, there are several forms of therapy that exist. Popular options for learning how to cope with and overcome symptoms of mood disorder include psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and holistic approaches.

If you believe you may be experiencing one of these types of mood disorders and want to explore your options, consider discovering the benefits of joining an individualized intensive program.