Mood Disorders

What are Mood Disorders?

Mood disorders are a category of illnesses that describe a serious change in mood. Illnesses under mood disorders include:


Depression involves having feelings of severe despondency and dejection. Depression can occur to anyone, at any age, and to people of any race or ethnic group. It can also occur in varying degrees. Depression is never a "normal" part of life, no matter what your age, gender or health situation. Sometimes depression can lead to bipolar disorder which is discussed later on this page.

A depressed person may:

  • Feel sad and cry often and it does not go away
  • Feel hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Feel like life is meaningless
  • Feel like they are no good
  • Be disinterested activities that they used to like
  • Have difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Easily irritated
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Think about death
  • Have low energy
  • Have poor concentration
  • Complain of fatigue or loss of energy
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder: Long lasting, low grade depression


  • Mild mood changes.
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Too little or too much sleep
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Poor concentration
  • SAD (seasonal affective disorder)

    This is when a change in season brings on depressive symptoms. For example, during winter, it is darker and cloudier which can cause depressed mood in some people.

    What Can Cause These Feelings?

    Biological - People with depression may have too little or too much of certain brain chemicals, called "neurotransmitters." Changes in these brain chemicals may cause or contribute to depression.

    Cognitive - People with negative thinking patterns and low self-esteem are more likely to develop clinical depression.

    Co-occurrence - Depression is more likely to occur along with certain illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Multiple Sclerosis and hormonal disorders.

    Medications - Side effects of some medications can bring about depression.

    Genetic - A family history of depression increases the risk for developing the illness. Some studies also suggest that a combination of genes and environmental factors work together to increase risk for depression. Situational Difficult life events, including divorce, financial problems or the death of a loved one can contribute to depression.

    What You Can Say to Help

  • You are not alone in this. I'm here for you.
  • I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.
  • When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold on for just one more day, hour, minute—whatever you can manage.
  • You are important to me. Your life is important to me.
  • Tell me what I can do now to help you.
  • I am here for you. We will get through this together.
  • Just listen.
  • What You Should Avoid Saying

  • It's all in your head.
  • We all go through times like this.
  • You'll be fine. Stop worrying.
  • Look on the bright side.
  • I can't do anything about your situation.
  • Just snap out of it.
  • Stop acting crazy. /li>
  • What's wrong with you?
  • Shouldn't you be better by now?
  • Treatments

    People believe that they can "self medicate" themselves through the use of alcohol and drugs. However, this makes depression worse because often times the things that people turn to are depressants. It is important to seek the appropriate help.

    Psycotherapy- This is talking with a professional about your feelings. He or she can help change relationships, thoughts, ot behaviors that contribute towards depression.

    Medication- Antidepressants are used to treat depression when it is severe or disabling for people. They are not meant to increase your mood; they are meant to balance the chemicals in your brain. Some people receive both therapy and medication to help manage their depression. Seeking treatment is important as it can help a person begin to feel better in a few weeks.

    Bipolar Disorder

    A brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out everyday tasks. An individual can experience extended periods of mood from extreme highs to extreme lows with normal mood behavior in between. It can cause irregular sleep habits, activity levels, thoughts, or behaviors. This is usually identified by intense emotions and unusual behaviors.


    A person who is manic may have the following characteristics:

  • Difficulty functioning at home and work
  • Overcome by feelings of sadness, anxiety, or nervousness
  • Having flashbacks
  • Nightmares about the event
  • Difficulty connecting with other
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Avoidance of things that are reminders of the traumatic event

  • Sources: