Mood Disorders

What are Mood Disorders?

Mental health has become a more important topic with people and healthcare providers across the globe. Mood disorders affect approximately 10% of the population, but that number is believed to be higher and increasing. There are two main classifications of mood disorders:

Depressive Mood Disorders

This category of mood disorders refer to the types of depression associated with the illness. Most people would be surprised to learn that depression can be broken down into sub-categories. Some examples of Depressive Mood Disorders are:

  • Post-Partum Depression: Nicknamed the “baby blues”, Post-Partum Depression is a Mood Disorder where parents can sink into a very depressive state, sometimes triggered by the stress of bringing a newborn into their lives. While Post-Partum Depression in most cases does clear up on its’ own after a while, more serious cases require medical intervention from healthcare providers.
  • Major Depressive Mood Disorder: This illness involves someone experiencing prolonged periods feeling deep sadness and sorrow. Sometimes it can be unexplained and take a person’s thoughts into very dark places. People experiencing Major Depressive Mood Disorder may experience thoughts of self-harm.

Bipolar Mood Disorders

This type of Mood Disorder is where a person can experience episodes of mania and be feeling very good for a period, then experience a sometimes sudden feeling of depression that just crashes them down.

What are the Symptoms of Mood Disorders?

There can be a variety of symptoms associated with Mood Disorders.

Symptoms include

  • Excessive feelings of sadness that seem to linger and not go away. Sometimes the feelings might be completely unexplained.
  • Loss of enjoyment in things the person might normally find pleasurable.
  • Sudden loss or increase in appetite. Sometimes food is used as a comforting mechanism. If the person already eats a poor diet, it can affect them further and contribute to other health problems.

Mood Disorders Causes

There doesn’t appear to be a single cause for any mood disorder; instead, there are usually a number of factors at play. A major one is environment. Sometimes emotional trauma and severe stress can lead to mood disorders, and major life events such as the death of a loved one or being victim to a burglary can trigger mental health problems. Although these things would make anyone feel low for a short period of time, sometimes they can trigger long term mood disorders.

There’s a possibility that some people are simply more predisposed to mood disorders than others. Many mental health problems appear to be hereditary, which suggests that our genes might contribute to them, but it isn’t clear exactly which genes or genetic traits are involved.

We do know that brain chemistry is involved in mood disorders. Neurotransmitters are chemicals which occur naturally in the brain and which help to communicate messages between different parts of the brain. It is thought that in some people the balance of these chemicals is abnormal and this contributes to abnormal moods. Some people could be genetically predisposed to abnormal brain chemistry, or environmental factors could lead to changes in the brain chemistry. Most likely it is a combination of both.

How are Mood Disorders Treated?

Mood Disorders can be treated with a combination of therapies that will be best determined by your healthcare provider. A person may be referred to a specialist such as a psychiatrist as well as someone who could be a trained counselor.

Doctors can prescribe medications to help stabilize and treat the symptoms associated with mood disorders. Mental health awareness has become much more widely discussed over the last few years. If you or someone you know might be experiencing mood disorders, contact your local health authority for more information.

Mood Disorders Prevention

Since the cause of mood disorders isn’t completely understood, it isn’t always possible to prevent them. However, those who have a family history of mood disorder may benefit from speaking to their doctor about any concerns they have about their mental health.

Going to therapy may be helpful for processing stress or emotional trauma which could trigger mood disorders. Therapy may also help you to develop healthy coping strategies should you face stress or emotional trauma in future.

Recognizing the symptoms of mood disorders can allow a diagnosis to be made early, which might make treatment more effective. Anyone who is worried about their mental health should speak to their doctor as soon as possible.