Mindful Observation: How to Watch for Mood Disorder Symptoms

6 Common Symptoms of a Mood Disorder

Navigating the ups and downs of life feels different for every single person, who holds a spectrum of different emotions and capacities within them. As every day can bring new challenges or new joys, our emotional landscape shifts frequently, and this is completely normal. However, when challenging emotions become overpowering, more intense, or remain fixed for longer periods, it could be a symptom of a Mood Disorder.

Every individual’s emotional and mental landscape is unique. Imagine yours like an ocean, with the waves representing our moods, rising and falling naturally. When a storm approaches, the waves become overwhelming, chaotic, and relentless, akin to a mood disorder. Recognizing the storm’s onset can help navigate these tumultuous waters and seek shelter in the form of professional mental health services.

Understanding the nuances of these symptoms can help identify if professional help is necessary. Keep reading as we explore six common signs of a mood disorder in depth.

Mood disorder symptoms to look for illustration

1. Chronically Low Energy Levels

It’s easy to complain about being tired—all of us do it sometimes. Whether you’re a busy person who never gets a moment’s rest or a person of luxury who enjoys a vacation, feelings of lethargy and exhaustion will find you sometimes. This is normal. However, if you experience consistent fatigue, regardless of sleep or activity levels, it could hint at a mood disorder.

2. Extreme Sensitivity to Failure

The fear of failure can be crippling, but experiencing extreme sensitivity toward perceived failures could be a sign of a mood disorder. This sensitivity might seem like a giant wave threatening a person at every corner, leading to increased hostility and anxiety. People with extreme sensitivity to failure may lash out when they feel rejected or criticized.

3. Consistently Low Self-Esteem

The consistently low feelings of self-esteem present in people with mood disorders are different from standard feelings of self-doubt. People may doubt their worth and capabilities, in a chronic way, impacting the way they navigate the world every day. A negative self-view is a prominent symptom of mood disorders. People with mood disorders may experience persistent feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or self-criticism, which can significantly impact their self-perception and overall self-esteem.

4. Lacking Motivation

A boat without a compass is left to the mercy of the sea’s unpredictable nature. Similarly, lacking motivation can make individuals feel adrift, unable to move toward their goals or desires. If the will to engage in regular activities or pursue personal interests is consistently absent, it might be a symptom of a mood disorder.

5. Acting in a Hostile or Aggressive Manner

When feelings of anger and hostility become overpowering or all-encompassing and impact someone’s quality of life, it might be a sign of a mood disorder. Frequent episodes of fury or aggression could signal an underlying issue, especially when these actions disrupt daily life or relationships.

6. Using Drugs or Alcohol to Feel Better

In the face of a storm, it may be tempting to seek refuge in a substance that promises temporary calm. However, habitual reliance on drugs or alcohol to cope with emotional pain often suggests a mood disorder. These substances may provide momentary relief, but they ultimately amplify the symptoms of mood disorders.

Types of Mood Disorders

Mood disorders are significant disruptions in mood that can affect daily life. 10 common types of mood disorders include:

  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): People with this disorder may experience persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, and feelings of guilt that affect work and social relationships.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder: Chronic, mild depression with symptoms lasting at least two years.
  • Bipolar Disorder: Features mood swings from depressive lows to manic highs, causing hyperactivity and rapid speech.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder: A less severe bipolar disorder with mood fluctuations over at least two years.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Depression subtype linked to seasonal changes.
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder: This childhood condition features severe temper outbursts.

What Should I Do if I Have Any Mood Disorder Symptoms?

Awareness: The first step to seeking help is recognizing the symptoms. Being in tune with one’s emotional and mental landscape and noticing when consistent changes occur can be instrumental in addressing mental health concerns.

Understanding: Understand your symptoms to develop healthy coping mechanisms and live a fulfilling life with a mood disorder. When a person with a mood disorder becomes aware of the “why” behind their actions, it is easier to be kind to yourself and seek help. Similarly, family and support networks will benefit from a true understanding of the mood disorder.

Diagnosis: Spotting these symptoms in yourself, a family member, or a friend does not necessarily mean a mood disorder is present. Receiving a professional diagnosis is essential in order to connect people with the required help. These symptoms serve as signals that a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional might be necessary.

Therapy: Therapy acts as a lighthouse guiding individuals through stormy emotional seas. Attending regularly can help understand personal behavioral patterns, provide tools to cope with emotional stressors, and support the journey toward improved mental health.

Key Takeaways

  • Chronic low energy levels that persist regardless of sleep or activity may be indicative of a mood disorder.
  • Extreme sensitivity to failure can prevent people from taking steps forward in life and may signal the presence of a mood disorder.
  • Consistently low self-esteem is a common symptom of mood disorders, which allows endless negativity to enter the lives of people suffering from it.
  • Lack of motivation in life can leave individuals feeling adrift and directionless, a potential sign of a mood disorder.
  • Frequent hostile or aggressive behavior could point toward an underlying mood disorder.
  • Habitual use of drugs or alcohol to cope with emotional pain, though providing a momentary calm, can exacerbate mood disorder symptoms.

Authored By 

LifeStance Health
LifeStance Health

LifeStance is a mental healthcare company focused on providing evidence-based, medically driven treatment services for children, adolescents, and adults.