What is a Mood Disorder? Thumbnail

Mood disorder is a mental health condition which affects your emotional state primarily. This article will clarify the various aspects of mood disorder.

A mood disorder is a mental health condition that affects a person’s emotional well-being. Often characterized by long periods of extreme happiness or extreme sadness, mood disorders can affect individuals of all ages and have a significant impact on all aspects of a person’s life. There are many different types of mood disorders and symptoms can differ for each person.

While mood disorders are not fully understood, treatments are available to help alleviate symptoms and manage a variety of conditions. If symptoms of depression or mania become a part of your everyday life, it's important not to delay treatment. Speaking with your doctor or a mental health professional can ensure you are diagnosed properly and receive the most effective treatment for your condition.

What are some of the most common mood disorders?

The most common mood disorders are medical conditions that cause extreme bouts of depression, mania, or a combination of both. Mood disorders can affect all ages and genders. While symptoms can vary for each individual, mood disorders can have negative consequences without treatment.

The most common mood disorders include:

  • Major depressive disorder — prolonged and persistent feelings of sadness
  • Bipolar disorder — involves alternating episodes of depression and mania
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — depression brought on by fewer hours of daylight from late fall to early spring at northern and southern latitudes
  • Cyclothymic disorder — emotional fluctuations less severe than bipolar disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder — premenstrual mood swings and irritability that occurs before menstruation and resides once menstruation has begun
  • Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) — a chronic form of depression
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder — chronic, severe and persistent irritability in children resulting in frequent temper outbursts

Is Anxiety a Mood Disorder?

A symptom of several conditions, anxiety is often mistaken for a mood disorder. However, anxiety is a feeling, not a mood disorder. In most cases, anxiety is a temporary emotion and usually dissipates when a specific stressor and trigger passes. When anxiety becomes persistent, anxiety can be characterized as an anxiety disorder—although similar, having anxiety and developing an anxiety disorder is different. Without treatment, those suffering from anxiety disorders may also develop depression or other mood disorders.

How Common are Mood Disorders?

Mood disorders are relatively common among Americans, particularly bipolar disorder and depression. Currently, an estimated 7% of U.S. adults suffer from depression, while 2.8% suffer from bipolar disorder. Even more common among children and adolescents, mood disorders affect around 15% of ages 10-19. In this population, an estimated 11.2% suffer from severe impairment.

While mood disorders occur in both genders, women are more likely to develop a mood disorder. In the U.S., women are twice as likely to experience depression than men, with nearly one-quarter experiencing a depressive episode at some point in their lives. Furthermore, women who suffer from bipolar disorder experience more depressive episodes than men. Unfortunately, this can often lead to misdiagnosis and less effective treatment.

Common Symptoms of Mood Disorders

Symptoms of mood disorders may vary for each individual, depending on the condition. While it’s normal to experience negative feelings from time to time, feelings that persist or intensify over time could indicate an underlying medical condition. If the following symptoms of depression or hypomania become severe or happen frequently, it’s important to contact your doctor or mental health professional.

Depressive symptoms may include:

  • Frequent feelings of sadness
  • Low energy
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Low self-esteem
  • Excessive guilt
  • Disinterest in activities that previously brought enjoyment
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Inability to concentrate or focus
  • Oversleeping or not sleeping enough
  • A lack of appetite or excessive eating
  • Sudden changes in weight without dieting or exercise
  • Symptoms of hypomania or manic episodes may include:
  • Feeling extremely energetic and happy
  • Speech or movement is rapid
  • Angry, restless, or irritable
  • Risky behavior
  • Racing thoughts
  • Sleep disturbances or insomnia
  • Changes in weight without diet and exercise

Mood disorders are unlikely to disappear on their own. Left untreated, mood disorders can progress and lead to life-threatening situations. If you or a loved one expresses suicidal thoughts, get medical help immediately.

What Causes Mood Disorders?

A variety of factors can cause mood disorders. While mood disorders are often the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, mood disorders can also be triggered by major life events. Furthermore, individuals with a family history of mental illness are more likely to develop mood disorders.

Risk factors for mood disorders include:

  • Individuals aged 10-19
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Certain medical conditions, such as stroke or thyroid issues
  • Certain medications
  • Mental illness in the family
  • Female
  • Being isolated from others
  • A history of sleep disorders
  • Recent traumatic life events, such as death or divorce

How are Mood Disorders Treated?

Treatments for mood disorders vary according to specific symptoms and conditions. Mood disorders can be managed with medication, psychotherapy, and other treatments. In some cases, a combination of treatments may be necessary.


In most cases, mood disorders respond well to medications. Medications work to reduce abnormal brain activity and help restore chemical imbalances. Common medications prescribed include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotic medications. Treatment with medication typically works best when paired with therapy.


Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy focuses on helping individuals identify and change unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors. Under the guidance of a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, psychotherapy provides individuals and families with the support and education needed to improve a person’s function and well-being.

Other Treatments

When medications and talk therapy are insufficient in treating mood disorders, alternative therapies can relieve and manage symptoms. These treatments may include:

  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) - ECT procedures pass controlled electric currents through the brain to help with conditions like depression and bipolar disorder resistant to medical treatment.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) - TMS therapy uses magnetic energy to create an electrical current beneath a person’s skull to help regulate emotions.
  • Light therapy - This technique uses bright artificial light during the fall and winter to treat symptoms of depression in seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Comprehensive Care With CHE

Mood disorders can be pervasive and debilitating, affecting every aspect of a person’s life. While those suffering may see no end in sight, these conditions are highly treatable. If you think you may be suffering from a mood disorder, teletherapy offers effective and affordable solutions for finding relief.

At CHE Behavioral Health Services, we offer comprehensive, compassionate care for mood disorders and other mental health conditions. Our treatment programs have helped many recover their emotional well-being, enabling them to live life to the fullest.

To learn more about our behavioral health services, please call 888-515-3834.