Mood disorders can be hard to spot. It may be hard for you or others to see someone’s mental illness, or even identify your own. While a mood disorder may not affect a person physically, they can affect how a person thinks, feels and how they live their life.
Mood disorders can like depression, bipolar disorder or self-harm are often chronic conditions reoccurring throughout the life of a person. Regardless of the type of mood disorder or how often symptoms last, it can disrupt daily functions such as going to work or going to school. Which is why it is essential for you to learn all that you can about your mood disorder or the disorder of a person close to you.
What Is a Mood Disorder?
Before you can learn about the many different mood disorders, you need to learn what it is. A mood disorder is a type of mental illness in which the disorder affects a person’s mood or emotional state. Simply put, mood disorders affect the way you interact with the world around you and how you interpret and handle situations. If you suffer from depression, you may feel sad all of the time. If you are manic, you can bounce between spells of excessive happiness then excessive sadness. While there is a wide range of mood disorders, the most common include depression, bipolar disorder, self-harm, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you have a mood disorder, it may be hard for you to function because your emotional state is inconsistent or distorted. There are many different mood disorders, and you can have more than one at a time, such as anxiety disorders and depression. Mood disorders can increase a person’s risk of suicide, which is why it is crucial to learn all that you can about your disorder, disorders or the disorder of someone close to you and seek help as soon as possible.
Depression is a medical illness that involves the brain and is caused by a variety of circumstances, such as genetics, physiology, environment and biochemical factors. Depression is most common in women, and you usually start to show symptoms between 15 years old and 30 years of age. A common misconception is that depression is the same as a bad moon. This is inaccurate. While bad moods typically last a short period and are manageable, those who suffer from depression are faced with constant and severe symptoms, which they are forced to live with daily. These symptoms not only affect how you handle everyday activities, like eating, sleeping, going to school or socializing with people, symptoms also affects how you think and approach tasks, causing strains on your daily life.
Depression is one of the most common mood disorders, and types of depression range from depressive disorder to clinical depression. For a medical professional to diagnose you with depression, you must show symptoms of the disorder for most of the day and nearly every day for a two-week period. While there are many symptoms of depression, the most common include:
- Feeling numb or empty
- Feeling pessimistic or hopelessness
- Feeling fatigued or experiencing an extreme decrease of energy
- Losing interest in hobbies or pleasurable activities
- Becoming Irritable
- Thoughts of suicide, or suicide attempts
- Weight change and appetite loss
- Having trouble sitting still or feeling restless
- Having trouble with concentrating, making decisions and memory
- Having trouble with sleeping, either oversleeping or waking early
- Physical aches or pains, such as cramps, headaches or problems with your digestive system
While there are many different symptoms of depression, not everyone who has depression will experience every symptom. In fact, some people who suffer from depression may only show signs of having a few symptoms, while others may experience many. How frequent and how severe your depression symptoms are will depend on your particular bout of depression, and the symptoms will vary depending on the state of the illness.
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes severe changes in behavior ranging from euphoria to depression. Psychiatrists also refer to bipolar disorder as manic-depressive illness due to its main characteristic of drastic highs and lows a person with this disorder will experience. Bipolar disorder can be divided into four primary groups:
- Bipolar I Disorder
- Bipolar II Disorder
- Cyclothymic Disorder
- Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders
While the types of bipolar disorders may vary, all can change your mood, activity levels and energy. The moods range from episodes of extreme happiness and energy, described as manic phases, to depressive episodes characterized by extreme sadness and feelings of hopelessness. People with bipolar disorder can also experience hypomanic episodes when they are not extremely euphoric (manic) but still have many of the same feelings such as high energy or a feeling of invincibility. The common link between all types of bipolar disorder is a fluctuation between two different moods, neither of which provides a healthy mental balance.
The emotions displayed during bipolar episodes are generally dramatically different than their every-day moods and can affect day-to-day life.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
During times of less natural sunlight, like late fall and early winter, it is common for people to experience a severe change in their mood. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression, which develops during the winter months but usually lifts during the spring and summer. SAD episodes can occur in summer months, but are much less frequent than winter episodes.
There are many symptoms of SAD and the most common include:
- Feelings of sad or anxiousness
- Feelings of pessimism or hopelessness
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Feeling irritable or restless
- Altered sleep patterns, such as oversleeping or difficulty sleeping
- Decreased energy and increased fatigue
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Having problems concentrating, making decisions and remembering specific details
- Having thoughts of suicide or death
While a person suffering from SAD may have a few of the above symptoms, they may not suffer from all of them.
Since mood disorders often distort how you feel about yourself, and is another very common mood disorder. Self-harm occurs when a person harms their own body on purpose. More females are diagnosed with self-harm than males. Sufferers tend to begin harming themselves in their teens or early adult years. While a person suffering from self-harm is not usually trying to kill themselves, they are at a higher risk of attempting suicide if they are not given the professional help that they need.
Examples of self-harm include:
- Cutting, such as with knives, scissors or razor blades
- Burning oneself with matches, candles or cigarettes
- Punching oneself or punching other things, like walls or doors
- Pulling out one’s hair and eyelashes
- Causing one’s body to bruise or breaking one’s bones
It is common for those suffering from self-harm to cause harm to their body as a sense of relief from emotional distress. Many people use self-harm as a way to cope with a particular problem, while others do it to attempt to stop strong feelings of anger, loneliness or hopelessness.
If you believe that you are suffering from a mood disorder, the first step is to seek help. You can visit your primary doctor to receive referrals to mental health professionals in your area, or find a mental health professional online. There are many affordable options for mental health care and your insurance may cover some or all of the costs. Students can find mental health resources through their school or university.