What are Mood Disorders?
Mood disorders include depression and bipolar disorders. A severe depression is called a major depression and less severe is dysthymia. Similarly, very significant alterations in mood are termed bipolar disorder and significant but less dramatic is cyclothymia.
Symptoms of Mood Disorders
When a change in mood is called a “disorder” it means that mood changes are getting in your way at work, home, relationships or school. This could be the result of sadness or anger or shifts in your mood from ‘high to low’. And generally there are other changes that follow including low energy, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, changes in your appetite, low self esteem and poor concentration with depression. Also feelings of guilt or self-blame, and when depression becomes most severe, thoughts of harm including suicide.
With bipolar disorder, depression can alternate with irritability or elevated mood that results in increased energy and less need for sleep; talking, thinking and speaking faster. Sometimes increasing activity leads to excessive spending or poor judgment and, when bipolar becomes most severe it can include confused thinking and hallucinations.
Treatments for Mood Disorders
Many medical illnesses, such as low thyroid or celiac, as well as severe food sensitivities can mimic or present as mood symptoms. If low mood persists despite exploring other possible causes and their treatment, the initial recommendation will likely include psychotherapy. Depending on approach, the type of therapy could include cognitive behavioral strategies to unlearn the negative, self-defeating patterns that can be an entrenched part of low moods. Insight oriented therapy offers the opportunity for exploring the historical patterns of low mood and triggers that contribute to ‘setting off’ an episode or sustaining its longevity.
Psychotherapy is an integral treatment for bipolar mood changes as well, yet if mood elevation is extreme or safety is uncertain, medications may be discussed early in treatment.