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Monitoring your mental health: 5 mood disorders explained

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According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 21.4 percent of Americans have a mood disorder at some time in their lives. Sadly, stigmas still exist about mental health issues. This keeps some from seeking help. Here’s a guide to the most common mood disorders.

What is a mood disorder?

A mood disorder is a mental health grouping doctors use to describe all kinds of depression and bipolar disorders. If you have one, your emotional state is distorted, or not what others might think it should be, based on what is going on in your life. This impedes your ability to act as you should.

Major depression

Major depression affects how you think, feel and act. It may only happen once in your life, or you can have it multiple times. When it hits, symptoms occur most of the day and almost each day. They may include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless and empty
  • Sleep issues
  • Feeling anxious
  • Angry outbursts, even over small things
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Loss of interest in normal things, such as sex, sports or hobbies
  • Slowed thinking
  • Physical problems, such as headaches or backaches
  • Fatigue
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Medicines and talk therapy are often used to treat this problem. Some benefit from brain stimulation therapies. Your highly trained doctor might also suggest lifestyle and home remedies. You may need to avoid alcohol. Journaling can also help.


Dysthymia is a long-form of depression. If you have it, you may not be able to be upbeat, even during happy events. You might be told you’re gloomy. People may say that you can’t have fun. Besides having the signs of major depression, people with dysthymia might also avoid social activities. They may have decreased activity and productivity. Medicines and talk therapy are used to treat dysthymia.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder causes wild mood swings. They include emotional highs and lows. Episodes of mood swings can happen rarely. Or, they can strike more than once a year. During bipolar highs, you might:

  • Feel wired or happy
  • Have a lot of energy
  • Get distracted a lot
  • Have racing thoughts
  • Make bad decisions
  • Not want to sleep
  • Talk a lot

The lows of bipolar disorder can bring on the signs of major depression. Like major depression and dysthymia, this mood disorder is treated with medications and talk therapy. Your doctor may also suggest a hospital stay if you feel suicidal or become detached from reality.

Substance-induced mood disorder

The use of medicines, illegal drugs, and alcohol can cause you to have the signs of major depression. These signs can happen while you’re using a substance or after you stop. But, they should go away within days or weeks once you quit taking it.

Mood disorder related to another health issue

Many health issues can lead to signs of depression. They include: cancer, injuries, and chronic illnesses. Depression caused by another health problem can be treated like other forms of this mood disorder. If the medicines you’re taking for a physical health condition are the culprit, your doctor might need to adjust them.

Mood disorders impact many people, and you may know someone with these symptoms who is unaware of their disorder. The symptoms linked with them can be as unique as the people who have them. The highly trained doctors at SIU Medicine know the value of creating a customized treatment plan for each patient suffering from a mood disorder based on the latest research. With the right plan, reclaiming your mental health is within your reach.

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