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Mood Disorders: Symptoms, Examples, and Treatment Options

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

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Millions of people suffer from mood or affective disorders. We don’t yet understand all of the exact causes but know a variety of factors are at play, including genetics, chemical imbalances, and stressful life events (triggers). In today’s blog post, I want to explore mood disorders by discussing symptoms, examples, and treatment options.

Symptoms of Mood Disorders

While the symptoms of mood disorders vary based on the specific diagnosis (something I cover in more detail below), there are some of the common feelings experienced by suffering individuals. Possible symptoms include:

  • Loss of interest in previously-enjoyed activities

  • Changes in eating habits or weight

  • Sleeping issues, including insomnia or oversleeping

  • Fatigue

  • Feelings of sadness and anxiety, often accompanied by crying

  • Feeling “flat” or empty

  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

  • Thoughts of dying or suicide

These symptoms are usually ongoing and eventually have a noticeable impact on daily life. If you’re experiencing any of these feelings, reach out to a mental health professional to be evaluated and diagnosed. If you have suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Common Mood Disorders and Treatment Options

Here are four examples of well-known mood disorders as well as their treatment options.

  • Depression: Over 20 million people in the United States suffer from depression, which is a serious medical illness that involves prolonged times of sadness and a chemical imbalance in the brain. Symptoms, such as sadness, loss of interest, appetite fluctuations, trouble sleeping, feelings of doubt, and suicidal ideation, often interfere with everyday responsibilities and routines. Women may experience postpartum or antepartum depression after giving birth or while pregnant due to hormonal changes and sleep deprivation, among other physical, emotional, genetic, and social factors. Effective treatment usually involves a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants.

  • Bipolar disorder: A serious and chronic mental illness, bipolar disorder includes drastic mood swings, alternating between feeling very happy and very hopeless with normal moods in between. The “up” feeling is referred to as mania, while the “down” feeling is depression. The exact causes of bipolar disorder are unclear, but research suggests that it’s genetic and that abnormal brain structure and function may play a role. If not treated, this mood disorder can lead to ruined relationships, poor performance at work or school, and suicidal thoughts. Like depression, a combination of therapy and medication is often the best form of treatment.

  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Some people experience unremarkable mental health most of the time but struggle with depression at the same time each year, most commonly during the winter months when there is a decrease in natural sunlight. Symptoms include feeling sad, anxious, hopeless, or worthless as well as sleeping difficulties, decreased energy levels, and overeating. SAD can be treated with a combination of light therapy, medication, and therapy.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a mood disorder, reach out to Dr. Kelli Malkasian, PsyD, CEDS at Coral Reef Counseling, and schedule a free consultation or telehealth appointment today.


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