Overview of Mood Disorders (2023)

What are mood disorders?

A mood disorder is a class of serious mental illnesses. The term broadly describes all types of depression and bipolar disorders.

Children, teens, and adults can all have mood disorders. But children and teens don’t always have the same symptoms as adults. It’s harder to diagnose mood disorders in children. That's because they can't always express how they feel.

Therapy, medicines, and support and self-care can help treat mood disorders.

Whatare the different types of mood disorders?

These are the most common types of mood disorders:

  • Major depression. Having less interest in normal activities, feeling sad or hopeless, and other symptoms for at least 2 weeks may mean depression.

  • Dysthymia. This is an ongoing (chronic), low-grade, depressed, or irritable mood that lasts for at least 2 years.

  • Bipolar disorder. With this condition a person has times of depression alternating with times of mania or a higher mood.

  • Mood disorder linked to another health condition. Many health conditions (including cancer, injuries, infections, and chronic illnesses) can trigger symptoms of depression.

  • Substance-induced mood disorder.Symptoms of depression that are due to the effects of medicine, drug abuse, alcoholism, exposure to toxins, or other forms of treatment.

What causes mood disorders?

Many factors help lead to mood disorders. They are likely caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals. Life events (such as stressful life changes) may also help lead to a depressed mood. Mood disorders also tend to run in families.

Who is at risk for mood disorders?

Anyone can feel sad or depressed at times. But mood disorders are more intense and last longer. They are also harder to manage than normal feelings of sadness. Children, teens, or adults who have a parent with a mood disorder have a greater chance of also having a mood disorder. But life events and stress can expose or worsen feelings of sadness or depression. This makes the feelings harder to manage.

Sometimes life's problems can trigger depression. Things such as being fired from a job, getting divorced, losing a loved one, having a death in the family, and financial trouble, all can be difficult. Coping with the pressure may be troublesome. These life events and stress can bring on feelings of sadness or depression. Or they can make a mood disorder harder to manage.

The risk of depression in women is nearly twice as high as it is for men. Once a person in the family has this diagnosis, their siblings and their children have a higher chance of the same diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of mood disorders?

Depending on age and the type of mood disorder, a person may have different symptoms when they become depressed. The following are the most common symptoms of a mood disorder:

  • Ongoing sad, anxious, or “empty” mood

  • Feeling hopeless or helpless

  • Having low self-esteem

  • Feeling inadequate or worthless

  • Excessive guilt

  • Not interested in normal activities or activities that were once enjoyed, including sex

  • Relationship problems

  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much

  • Changes in appetite or weight

  • Decreased energy

  • Trouble focusing

  • Less able to make decisions

  • Frequent physical complaints (for example, headache, stomachache, or tiredness) that don’t get better with treatment

  • Running away or threats of running away from home

  • Very sensitive to failure or rejection

  • Irritability, hostility, or aggression

  • Repeated thoughts of death or suicide, planning for death, or wishing to die

In mood disorders, these feelings are more intense than what a person may normally feel from time to time. It’s also of concern if these feelings continue over time. Or if they interfere with someone's interest in family, friends, community, or work.

Any person who has thoughts of suicide should get medical help right away. If you can't get in immediately to your primary care provider, go to a reputable mental health facility in your community. Don't put it off.

The symptoms of mood disorders may seem like other conditions or mental health problems. Always talk with a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

When suicide is a risk

Mood disorders can cause repeated thoughts of death or suicide, planning for death, or wishing to die. People with these symptoms should get treatment right away. Call or text 988 if a person has suicidal thoughts, a suicide plan, and the means to carry out the plan. When you call or text 988, you will be connected to trained crisis counselors at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. An online chat option is also available. Lifeline is free and available 24/7. Don't leave the person alone, even for a moment. The Lifeline is also available at 800-273-8255 or online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

How are mood disorders diagnosed?

Mood disorders are serious illnesses. A psychiatrist or other mental health provider often diagnoses mood disorders with a complete health history and psychiatric evaluation.

How are mood disorders treated?

Mood disorders can often be treated with success. Treatment may include:

  • Antidepressant and mood-stabilizing medicines.These medicines work very well in treating mood disorders, especially when combined with psychotherapy.

  • Psychotherapy (most often cognitive-behavioral or interpersonal therapy). This kind of therapy is focused on changing the person’s distorted view of themselves and their environment. It also helps to improve relationship skills. And it can help the person find stressors in the environment and learn how to stay away from them.

  • Family therapy. A mood disorder can affect all aspects of a family (emotional, physical, and financial). Professional support can help both the person with the diagnosis and family members.

  • Other therapies. These may include electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial stimulation.

Families play a vital supportive role in any treatment process.

Someone with a mood disorder may have times of stability and times when symptoms return. Long-term, continuous treatment can help the person stay healthy and control symptoms.

When correctly diagnosed and treated, people with mood disorders can live, stable, productive, healthy lives.

Can mood disorders be prevented?

At this time, there are no ways to prevent or reduce mood disorders. But early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the severity of symptoms. It can also enhance the person’s normal growth and development, and improve their quality of life.

Key points about mood disorders

  • A mood disorder is a class of serious mental illnesses. The term broadly describes all types of depression and bipolar disorders.

  • Children, teens, and adults can all have mood disorders.

  • Many factors help lead to mood disorders. They are likely caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals.

  • Most people with a mood disorder have ongoing feelings of sadness. They may feel helpless and hopeless.

  • Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. They can affect quality of life.

  • Mood disorders are most often treated with medicine, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, or a combination of medicine and therapy.

  • Long-term, comprehensive follow-up care will help ensure the support needed for a full, productive life.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.

  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.

  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.

  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.

  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.

  • Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.

  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.

  • Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.

  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.

  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.

Online Medical Reviewer:L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer:Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer:Paul Ballas MD

Date Last Reviewed:7/1/2021

© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.


What is a brief overview of mood disorders? ›

Overview. If you have a mood disorder, your general emotional state or mood is distorted or inconsistent with your circumstances and interferes with your ability to function. You may be extremely sad, empty or irritable (depressed), or you may have periods of depression alternating with being excessively happy (mania).

What are the 5 types of mood disorders? ›

The most common types of mood disorders are major depression, dysthymia (dysthymic disorder), bipolar disorder, mood disorder due to a general medical condition, and substance-induced mood disorder.

What are the mood disorders in the DSM? ›

Appendix D—DSM-IV-TR Mood Disorders
  • Major Depressive Episode and Major Depressive Disorder. ...
  • Dsythymic Disorder. ...
  • Bipolar Episode and Bipolar Disorder. ...
  • Substance-Induced Mood Disorder. ...
  • Mood Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition. ...
  • Adjustment Disorder With Depressed Mood.

What are mood disorders and what causes them? ›

A mood disorder is a mental health condition that mainly affects your emotional state. People with mood disorders often experience long periods of extreme emotional highs and lows. There are a few different types of mood disorders, but two of the most common types are depression and bipolar disorder.

What are the two main types of mood disorders? ›

Mood disorder is a broad term that refers to the different types of depressive and bipolar disorders, all of which affect mood. If you have symptoms of a mood disorder, your moods may range from extremely low (depressed) to extremely high or irritable (manic).

What are the 3 most common mood disorders? ›

The most common mood disorders are: Depression. Bipolar Disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

What is the most commonly diagnosed mood disorder? ›

Mood disorders

Included in mood disorders is major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder. Major depressive disorder is by far the most common, affecting nearly 15 million people, and is the leading causing of disability for people aged 15-44 according, to the NIMH.

What are the 6 types of mood disorders? ›

These include bipolar disorder, cyclothymia, hypomania, major depressive disorder, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, persistent depressive disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. These are common psychiatric disorders leading to an increase in morbidity and mortality.

Is ADHD considered a mood disorder? ›

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not a mood disorder, but it can make it more difficult to regulate emotions. It can also have indirect effects on mental health. For example, some people with ADHD may develop low self-confidence about their abilities due to how they or others perceive the condition.

What is the DSM-5 code for mood disorder? ›

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder DSM-5 296.99(F34. 8) - Therapedia.

What are mood disorders also known as? ›

A mood disorder, also known as an affective disorder, is any of a group of conditions of mental and behavioral disorder where a disturbance in the person's mood is the main underlying feature.

How many mood disorders are there? ›

Though many different subtypes are recognized, three major states of mood disorders exist: depressive, manic, and bipolar. Major depressive disorder is characterized by overall depressed mood. Elevated moods are characterized by mania or hypomania.

Are mood disorders a spectrum? ›

The affective spectrum is a spectrum of affective disorders (mood disorders). It is a grouping of related psychiatric and medical disorders which may accompany bipolar, unipolar, and schizoaffective disorders at statistically higher rates than would normally be expected.

Are mood disorders disabilities? ›

Unlike other types of disabilities, mood disorders are more difficult to document. The SSA will require evidence of your diagnosis to prove that you have a mood disorder in order to be considered for disability benefits under that condition.

What are the risk factors of mood disorder? ›

Risk factors for mood disorders include:
  • Adolescence.
  • Alcohol or drug use.
  • Certain medical conditions such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or chronic pain.
  • Certain medications.
  • Family history of mood disorders.
  • Female gender.
  • Isolation from other people.
  • Personal history of sleep disorders.

When do mood disorders develop? ›

First onset of mental disorders usually occurs in childhood or adolescence, although treatment typically does not occur until a number of years later.

How do mood disorders act? ›

Manic symptoms can include increased energy, excitement, impulsive behaviour, and agitation. Depressive symptoms can include lack of energy, feeling worthless, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.

What is the difference between mental disorders and mood disorders? ›

Mood disorders talk about patterns in feelings, while personality disorders focus on how people relate to others. Mood disorders can disrupt relationships, too, and personality disorders can impact someone's mood. But each talks about patterns that most unswervingly affect relationships or emotions, for instance.

What is the difference between mood disorder and bipolar? ›

It's normal for your mood to change in response to different situations, news, or challenges you encounter throughout a day. But if your mood shifts dramatically between extreme highs and lows, it may be a sign of bipolar disorder. Mood episodes lasting at least four days are a sign of bipolar disorder.

Is mood disorder the same as mental illness? ›

Mood and personality disorders are both categories of mental health conditions, but they differ from one another. Mood disorders are about patterns in people's emotions, while personality disorders are more centered on the ways people relate to others.

What is the hardest mental illness to live with? ›

But in the shadows are a cluster of conditions that continue to face deep discrimination: schizophrenia, psychosis, bipolar disorder, and BPD. BPD in particular is one of the lesser-known mental illnesses, but all the same it is one of the hardest to reckon with.

What mood disorders are similar to bipolar? ›

Cyclothymia, or cyclothymic disorder, causes mood changes – from feeling low to emotional highs. Cyclothymia has many similarities to bipolar disorder.

What is the #1 most diagnosed mental disorder? ›

Depression. Impacting an estimated 300 million people, depression is the most-common mental disorder and generally affects women more often than men.

What are the 5 treatments for mood disorders? ›

Further subsections are devoted to specific clinical issues, such as working with patients affected by chronic depression, treating adolescent patients, and combining psychotherapy and medication.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapies. ...
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy. ...
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. ...
  • Psychotherapy for Chronic Depression.

What are mood disorders 12 psychology? ›

Mood disorders are characterized by marked disturbances in emotional state, which affect thinking, physical symptoms, social relationships, and behavior. If mood is viewed as a continuum, mood disorders occur when a person experiences moods that lie at either extreme of the continuum.

What are the 7 personality disorders? ›

The main personality disorders in this category are listed below.
  • Paranoid personality disorder. ...
  • Schizoid personality disorder. ...
  • Schizotypal personality disorder. ...
  • Antisocial personality disorder. ...
  • Borderline personality disorder. ...
  • Histrionic personality disorder. ...
  • Narcissistic personality disorder. ...
  • Avoidant personality disorder.
Feb 2, 2023

Is OCD a mood disorder? ›

What to know about bipolar and OCD. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that causes extreme mood swings and changes in a person's behavior. In contrast, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that causes repetitive behaviors and intrusive thoughts. An individual may live with both conditions.

Does Adderall help mood swings? ›

Some people may also use Adderall off-label to treat depressive episodes of bipolar disorder. While some studies have indicated that stimulants may help with depressive symptoms, using them can have some potential downsides. These include an increased risk of manic episodes, tolerance, or addiction.

Is PTSD a mood disorder? ›

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), PTSD is classified as a trauma-related disorder and bipolar is a mood disorder. PTSD begins after a traumatic or highly stressful event.

What is the classification of mood disorders in ICD-10? ›

In ICD-10, mood disorder belongs to the F3 category, and there are seven subcategories which were divided in to subclasses. The two other subclasses of 'F06. 3 organic mood disorder' 'F41. 2 mixed anxiety and depressive disorders' were set up additionally.

What is a mood disorder assessment? ›

The Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) is a 15-item self-report screening instrument that can be used to identify clients most likely to have bipolar disorder. The MDQ assists in identifying bipolar disorder and distinguishing it from other mood disturbances in clinical populations.

Is mood disorder a neurological disorder? ›

Disorders of mood are accompanied by a range of cognitive and neurological impairments. Similar types of cognitive deficits are shared by patients with unipolar depression and bipolar disorder.

What neurotransmitters are involved in mood disorders? ›

Monoamine neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine or serotonin are the most important neurotransmitters in pathophysiology of mood disorders and in mechanisms of action of antidepressants. Catecholamines (dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine) are synthesized from tyrosine.

What does undiagnosed bipolar look like? ›

being easily distracted. being easily irritated or agitated. being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking. not feeling like sleeping.

What are the three types of episodes in mood disorders? ›

There are four kinds of mood episodes described in the DSM: Major Depressive, Manic, Hypomanic, and Mixed.

Is mood disorder the same as borderline personality disorder? ›

Borderline personality disorder is not a mood disorder. It is classified as a personality disorder. The symptoms of borderline personality disorder can result in mood problems, but the illness is not defined by changes in mood.

Can mood disorder turn into bipolar? ›

In a population cohort of 3012 young community participants, 3.6% of people with an initial depression were re-diagnosed with bipolar disorder after a period of up to 10 years, but the risk was substantially higher at 9% in those with onset of depression before the age of 17 (14).

Is mood disorder a psychosis? ›

People with the condition experience psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, as well as symptoms of a mood disorder — either bipolar type (episodes of mania and sometimes depression) or depressive type (episodes of depression).

What are the symptoms of mood disorder? ›

Common symptoms of mood disorders include:
  • Irritability, aggression or hostility.
  • An ongoing sad, empty or anxious mood.
  • Changes in appetite or weight.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.
  • Difficulty concentrating.

What is mood disorder unspecified? ›

The unspecified mood disorder applies to presentations in which symptoms predominate that are characteristic of a depressive disorder and cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

What is the most common type of mood disorder? ›

The most common mood disorders are: Depression.
These disorders, also called affective disorders, may involve:
  • Feeling sad all the time.
  • Losing interest in important parts of life.
  • Fluctuating between extreme happiness and extreme sadness.
Feb 28, 2022

What are psychological causes of mood disorders? ›

Mood disorders can occur in anyone, including children. The cause of mood disorders is not fully understood, but an imbalance in brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters is likely to play a role. Sometimes mood disorders may be related to a medical condition, substance abuse, life events, or other causes.

What are consequences of mood disorders? ›

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of a Mood Imbalance

People with mood disorders tend to alienate friends and family. They often have trouble in school and at work and have difficulty keep a job. Those with mania tend to have problems with authority figures. Those with depression have a high risk of suicide.

What medical conditions can cause mood disorders? ›

Some well-known illnesses that can lead to a diagnosis of mood disorder caused by a general medical condition can include:
  • Neurological disorders (Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease)
  • Heart attacks.
  • Pancreatic diseases.
  • Thyroid problems.
  • Cancer.
  • Infections.

Are mood disorders considered disabilities? ›

If you are disabled because of a Mood Disorder that interferes with your day to day activities prevents you from working, you may well be entitled to Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits.

How do people with mood disorders live? ›

Build structure into your life.

Developing and sticking to a daily schedule can help stabilize the mood swings of bipolar disorder. Include set times for sleeping, eating, socializing, exercising, working, and relaxing. Try to maintain a regular pattern of activity even through emotional ups and downs.

What drugs are given for mood disorders? ›

You'll typically need mood-stabilizing medication to control manic or hypomanic episodes. Examples of mood stabilizers include lithium (Lithobid), valproic acid (Depakene), divalproex sodium (Depakote), carbamazepine (Tegretol, Equetro, others) and lamotrigine (Lamictal).


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