Skip to content

Mood Disorders

What is a mood disorder?

A mood disorder is a broad term used to describe mental health conditions that affect your emotional state. Mood disorders can cause sadness and depression. Some mood disorders bring out other emotions such as anger, anxiety, irritability, or a feeling of apathy.

Isn’t it normal for your mood to change?

It is, but it becomes a mood disorder when the feelings persists for several weeks or longer, and causes changes in your behavior and your ability to function.

Are mood disorders treatable?

Yes, mood disorders can often be treated successfully with antidepressants or mood stabilizing medicines taken in combination with psychotherapy (usually cognitive behavioral therapy).

Mood disorder symptoms

Mood disorders can vary for each of us, but generally involve one or more of these signs or symptoms:

  • Frequently feeling sad or depressed
  • Experiencing mood swings or irritability
  • Acting in a hostile or aggressive manner
  • Having chronically low energy levels
  • Feelings inadequate or worthless
  • Extreme sensitivity to failure or rejection
  • Consistently low self-esteem
  • Excessive worrying or guilt
  • Unable or unwilling to make decisions
  • Little interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Consistent feelings of boredom
  • Lacking motivation to do anything
  • Not eating enough or eating too much
  • Using drugs or alcohol to feel better
  • Having thoughts of death or suicide

What causes mood disorders?

Mood and personality disorders are both categories of mental health conditions, but mood disorders are about patterns in your emotions, while personality disorders are about how you relate to others.

Mood disorders vs. personality disorders

Mood and personality disorders are both categories of mental health conditions, but mood disorders are about patterns in your emotions, while personality disorders are about how you relate to others.

The five most common types of mood disorders

Major Depression
Feeling sad, depressed, down, or hopeless for a minimum of two weeks in a row.

Having a chronic, low-grade, depressed or irritable mood that lasts for at least 2 years.

Bipolar Disorder
Having periods of depression alternating with periods of mania or elevated moods.

Mood Disorder Related to Another Health Condition
Symptoms of depression triggered by medical or chronic illnesses such as cancer.

Substance-induced Mood Disorder
Depression brought on by medicine, drug abuse, alcoholism, or exposure to toxins.

Who is at risk for mood disorders?

More of the population is at risk for developing mood disorders than most of us are aware:

  • Mood disorders affect almost 20% of the general population at any given point.
  • Approximately 9.5% of American adults ages 18 and over will develop a mood disorder each year.
  • While mood disorders can develop at any age, the average age for development is the mid-20s.
  • Women are nearly twice as likely to suffer from a mood disorder than men. However, men and women are equally likely to develop bipolar disorder.
  • Bipolar disorders affect approximately 2.6% of Americans aged 18 and older in a given year, with the first manic episode appearing in the early 20s.

How mood disorders are diagnosed

Mood disorders are diagnosed through physical examinations and mental health evaluations. Physical exams are given to rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be affecting your mood. Mental health evaluations are performed to determine your mood stability and overall mental health.

How mood disorders are treated

Treatment for mood disorders depend on the person, their age, and the severity of their disorder. Treatments usually include medication management (the prescription of antidepressants and/or mood stabilizing medicines) coupled with some form of psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, or family therapy.

Can mood disorders be prevented?

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent mood disorders. However, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the severity of symptoms and improve the quality of life for people experiencing mood disorders.

Mood disorder FAQs