Mood Disorders

What are Mood Disorders?
A mood disorder, also known as an affective disorder, describes a disruption or disturbance in affect or disposition (mood). Mood disorders include the diagnoses of depression, bipolar disorder, grief reactions, seasonal affective disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and dysthymic disorder. It should be noted that Mood disorder is a general term and not a specific diagnosis. Mood disorders are characterized by fluctuations in mood from a baseline level. For example, depression involves a pronounced sad mood or dysphoria, with feelings of hopelessness or helplessness. Episodes of mania, in contrast, manifest with increased energy, euphoria, and elation. Persons with depression suffer from low mood states only, while persons with Bipolar disorder exhibit both low and high mood states. In Bipolar Disorder, periods of depression or mania may be short-lived or prolonged, with some persons being described as “rapid-cycling.”

Mood DisordersThere are other mood disorders where symptoms are less profound than depression or Bipolar Disorder. Cyclothymic disorder is a milder form of Bipolar disorder where mood swings are not severe and the person stays connected to reality. Dysthymic disorder is a milder form of depression where depressive symptoms are not considered to be as severe.

What are the common types of Mood Disorders?

Reactive Depression – a lowered mood in response to a negative life situation such as loss of a loved one, a relationship break-up or loss of a job. Read More

Bipolar Disorder – mood swings consisting of separate and lasting periods of mania and depression. Read More

Grief Reactions – a set of somatic (body) and psychological symptoms that result from great sorrow or loss. Read More

Clinical Depression – also referred to as Unipolar Depression, is more severe than a Normal Reactive Depression. Read More

Seasonal Affective Disorder – also known as “Winter Depression” occurs when a person experiences depressive symptoms during a specific time of the year, usually in Winter. Read More

What are the causes of a Mood Disorder?
Mood disorders have a strong genetic basis, with genes now identified which are associated with different forms of depression and bipolar disorder. Improper mood regulation may originate in the brain resulting from abnormal amounts of neurotransmitter substances such as serotonin, glutamate or GABA. Losses and emotional trauma early in life may also make individuals more vulnerable to mood disorders throughout life. Furthermore, a person’s temperament may predispose them to a mood disorder. Temperament affects how a person reacts to life events and frames things that happen in a positive or negative way. Persons with Seasonal Affective Disorder have problems with melatonin secretion, and problems with an out-of-sync Circadian Rhythm (body clock).

What are the Symptoms of a Mood Disorder?
Symptoms of a mood disorder include feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, restlessness, and sadness during depressive episodes. There is often loss of interest in daily activities, an inability to enjoy social interactions, hobbies, activities and even sex. Fatigue and insomnia may follow these feelings, leading to increased irritability. Eating problems may arise, manifesting as significant weight loss or gain. Difficulty concentrating, making decisions or remembering things, as well as somatic symptoms such as pain, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems may also occur.

Mood disorders can also involve dramatic rises in mood, with feelings of elation, increased energy, and a decreased need for sleep. A person experiencing a manic episode will often have racing thoughts, rapid and pressured speech, and poor judgment and planning. This, combined with impulsivity, often creates major problems for the person in the manic state. For example, they may leave school or ruin their business, go on expensive buying sprees, or make wild investments. They may engage in dangerous substance-related behaviors, or promiscuous sexuality. Most concerning is increased and dangerous suicidal activity, due to the combined agitation and impulsivity. Finally, in many cases of mania, the person may become grandiose, with a heightened sense of self-esteem.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mood Disorders

How are Mood Disorders diagnosed?
Mood disorders are diagnosed by a mental health professional based on specific criteria. There must be symptom occurrences meeting the criteria for a specific disorder, involving either depression or mania, or both. The temporal pattern and particular causative factors also help to establish a diagnosis. A thorough evaluation of current symptoms delineates how the manic or depressive episodes have interfered with the Client’s everyday living, including negative effects on family, friends, work or school. The Client’s family history is also explored, as well as any history of drug or alcohol abuse, which may interfere with treatment.

What is the Prognosis for a Mood Disorder?
Mood disorders are chronic illnesses that can be effectively managed with psychological treatment and medication. Research shows that medication, coupled with effective psychotherapy, sleep and stress management, and psycho-education, can significantly improve the wellness of someone with a mood disorder. Effective treatment of a mood disorder can allow a person to return to their normal work or home life. By eliminating engagement in negative behaviors, a person with a mood disorder can lead a more productive, safer life.

What Complications can Slow Recovery?
Persons with a mood disorder may lack the motivation to seek treatment or be non-compliant with therapy or medication. Finding the proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan is very important. Substance abuse (especially alcohol, marijuana or cocaine) is especially common among persons with mood disorders. Concurrent substance abuse dramatically interferes with effective psychological and medical treatment. Persons with a mood disorder may have interpersonal difficulties, thus lacking an effective social support structure that is important to help with their recovery.

How Can Friends and Family Help?
A mood disorder can be very disruptive to the well-being of a family. Family members and loved ones will recognize when a person with a mood disorder has had a flare up of symptoms or is in crisis. During these critical points, it is frequently the family that brings a person to treatment. A person suffering from depression may lack the initiative, energy or resources to seek help. A person with Bipolar Disorder who is in a manic phase or crisis may need immediate intervention. Family and friends need to educate themselves about the mood disorder to understand when the person needs support, guidance, or even supervision. Family can be a valuable resource in monitoring medications and ensuring that the person with a mood disorder fully participates in his or her own treatment. A spouse or loved one can help a person with a mood disorder to enter a treatment facility, providing emotional support and financial resources.

When Should a Client enter a treatment center?
When a person with a mood disorder is having severe symptoms and difficulties, or serious problems that are negatively impacting their daily school or work life and personal and family relationships, an intensive treatment program is an appropriate option. A person with depression who is not leaving the house or who is missing work or school requires intervention. Similarly, a person with Bipolar Disorder experiencing an out-of-control manic episode, or who is in crisis requires help. Oftentimes, once per week psychotherapy or medication is ineffective at managing serious symptoms of mood disorders. PCH Treatment Center is a more comprehensive option than simple outpatient therapy, offering a safe, caring environment.

How does PCH Treatment Center treat Mood Disorders?
The PCH Mood Disorder Treatment Center offers a unique way of helping persons with a mood dysregulation. Dr. Jeff Ball, the Executive and Clinical Director, has over 25 years of experience in treating mood disorders. He has assembled a clinical staff that treats mood disorders in a comprehensive manner, completely reorganizing the way Clients approach understand and self-regulate their psychological problems. Upon entrance, PCH Treatment Center thoroughly evaluates each Client and endeavor to accurately diagnose their problem. A doctoral level psychologist performs a complete assessment to establish a treatment plan. We often discard inaccurate diagnoses or stigmatizing labels. Dr. William Wirshing, our staff Psychiatrist, reviews each Client’s current medication regimen. Many Clients are not on the proper medicines, or are taking too many. Our philosophy is to utilize the minimal amount of medication deemed necessary. At PCH Mood Disorder Treatment Center, individual psychotherapy is the foundation of our treatment of mood disorders. Somatic Experiencing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), anger management, sleep management, psycho-education, neurofeedback and other modalities are also utilized to deeply address the root causes of the mood disorder. Holistic therapies including yoga, mindfulness meditation, acupuncture and massage therapy are important for recovery and healing. Family therapy groups are also available. These valuable groups incorporate family members or significant others into the Clients treatment environment. PCH Mood Disorder Treatment Center has extensive experience in treating mood disorders, and we offer a safe, caring environment in which to heal.

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