Overview of Mood Disorders
All people experience high and low moods, and shifts in emotions from time to time. However, mood disorders are characterised by persistent patterns of either low moods or extreme changes in mood, to the extent that it impedes the quality of everyday life. Mood disorders are common, and affect roughly 11% of people in the UK.
Types of Mood Disorders
There are two main types of mood disorders: depression and bipolar disorder. Those who suffer from depression experience extreme states of unhappiness, often have a negative outlook on the future, experience low self-esteem, and can struggle to find purpose in carrying on with everyday life.
Bipolar disorder is characterised by an enduring pattern of extreme mood swings. Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder alternate between experiencing extreme highs, in which they may have delusional thoughts and make grandiose and unrealistic plans, and extreme lows, where they suffer from symptoms similar to depression.
What causes Mood Disorders?
Mood disorders are likely caused by a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors. Research has shown that there may be a genetic component to mood disorders. As such, being related to someone with a mood disorder may make you more vulnerable to develop the disorder. Mood disorders can also be caused by an imbalance of certain brain chemicals or over-activity in various brain areas that are involved in regulation of mood and emotions. Certain life experiences may also trigger the development of a mood disorder, such as coping with a long-term health condition, a pattern of drug or alcohol abuse or the experience of traumatic or stressful events, such as abuse.
Treating Mood Disorders
There are number of treatments than can be effective in treating mood disorders. These can include talking therapy, medication, or a combination of both treatments. The most effective form of treatment will depend on the specific condition diagnosed, type of symptoms, and severity of the case. You can find out more about the treatments for depression and bipolar disorder on their respective pages.