Mood Disorders are mental health issues that involve emotional disturbances. This usually consists of long periods of excessive sadness (depression), excessive emotion of great happiness or elation (mania) or both depression and mania. Depression and mania represent the two extremes or poles of mood disorders. Mood disorders can be thought of as Depressive Disorders or Bipolar Disorders.
While feeling of sadness and happiness are a normal part of life, they differ from the depression and mania that characterize mood disorders. Feeling of sadness is a natural response to loss, defeat, disappointment, trauma, or catastrophe.
Grief and bereavement are sadness to a loss or separation, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or romantic disappointment and they are normal emotional responses to loss or separation. Sadness due to bereavement and loss does not last for an elongated time and do not cause persistent, incapacitating depression, unless the person is predisposed to mood disorders.
A mood disorder is diagnosed when sadness or mania is to a degree exceeding normal or proper limits or is exceedingly intense and accompanied by certain other typical symptoms as well as it impairs the ability to function physically, social life, home life and at work.
When only depression occurs, it is termed a unipolar disorder. Other mood disorders, termed bipolar disorders, involve episodes of depression alternating with episodes of mania. Mania without depression (called unipolar mania) is very rare.
Mood disorders in children and adolescents can also occur.
Mood disorders, particularly one that involves depression, can increase the risk of other problems, such as, losing interest in activities that was once enjoyed, the inability to do daily activities, the inability to maintain relationships, loss of appetite, extreme anxiety, and substance abuse disorders, such as, Alcohol Use Disorder. As many as 15% of people with untreated depression end their life by suicide.
Further information can be found at:
- Mental Health America (MHA): Community-based nonprofit organization that promotes mental health as a critical part of overall wellness and provides educational materials and information on public policy
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Largest grassroots mental health organization in the United States dedicated to improving the lives of people living with mental illness
- National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH): General information on many aspects of mental illness, including research, legislation, and outreach