Mood Disorders and Depression

Mood disorder, also known as mood affective disorders, is a group of conditions where a disturbance in the person's mood is the main underlying feature. Mood disorders fall into several groups, such as mania or hypomania; depressed mood, of which the best-known and most researched is major depressive disorder (commonly called clinical depression, or major depression); and moods which cycle between mania and depression, known as bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression). There are several sub-types of depressive disorders or psychiatric syndromes featuring less severe symptoms as well.

Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression or mood disorder, these are some of the symptoms: persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood; feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism; irritability, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities; decreased energy or fatigue; difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping; appetite and/or weight changes; thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts. Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some people experience only a few symptoms while others may experience many. Several persistent symptoms in addition to low mood are required for a diagnosis of major depression, but people with only a few – but distressing – symptoms may benefit from treatment of subclinical depression.

Depression is one of the most common disorders in the United States. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors (i.e., major life changes, trauma or stress, certain physical illnesses and medications). Depression can happen at any age and is now recognized as occurring in children and adolescents, although it sometimes presents with more prominent irritability than low mood (thus a more common diagnosis of “Mood Disorder” rather than depression per se in children). Many chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults begin as high levels of anxiety in children.

Individuals with depressive symptoms or mood disorder require the help and treatment from a health professional as it can dramatically reduce the individual's risks, particularly for self-harm. Unrecognized depressive or mood disorders may slow recovery rates (or symptoms may worsen), therefore it is important that the condition is recognized and appropriate referrals for treatment are made. Most cases of depression or mood disorder represent hybrids between mood and anxiety disorders, and treatment for both symptoms of the dysregulated mood and anxiety need to be addressed.

There are different types of treatments available for mood disorders, such as therapy and medications. Behavior therapy, cognitive behavior therapy and interpersonal therapy have all shown to be potentially beneficial in depression. When depressed symptoms are very significant medication is recommended in combination with therapy. According to a substantial amount of epidemiology studies conducted, females are twice as likely to develop certain mood disorders, such as major depression. In recent years, mood disorders were the most common reason for hospitalization among children aged 1–17 years in the United States.