If you have a medical condition that causes depression, stress, anxiety, or mania, then you might have what the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders calls “mood disorder caused by (or due to) a general medical condition.” As the name suggests, this is when various diseases or conditions directly result in some form of mental health issue in a patient.

There are certain criteria that have to be met for a diagnosis of mood disorder caused by a general medical condition. As with any form of mood disorder, the symptoms (whether depression or mania) have to cause significant impairment of daily life, job performance, or academic responsibilities. In cases of depression, hobbies or other pleasurable activities must suffer from a reduced amount of interest from the individual, with the person occasionally having suicidal thoughts; with mania, the patient’s mood has to be uncharacteristically euphoric or agitated. For either, patients have to experience cognitive impairment and uncontrolled tearfulness.

For example, in a study conducted at the University of North Carolina on the topic of “Coping with Heart Surgery and Bypassing Depression,” researchers discovered that even 12 years after patients had successful heart bypass surgery, 83 percent of the patient population were unemployed, and 57 percent of them had sexual problems as a result of depression caused by their heart trouble. This would be a case of mood disorder due to a general medical condition.

What Medical Conditions Can Cause Mood Disorders?

The medical conditions that can lead to a diagnosis of mood disorder caused by a general medical condition can include:

  • Neurological disorders (Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease)
  • Heart attacks
  • Pancreatic diseases
  • Thyroid problems
  • Cancer
  • Infections
  • Chronic medical illnesses

Johns Hopkins Medicine sums it up by simply saying that “many medical illnesses […] can trigger symptoms of depression.”

The National Institute of Mental Health points out that diagnosing mood disorder caused by a general medical condition requires the symptoms to be the “direct physiological result of the medical condition” and not a physiological response to a medical problem. In other words, for a proper diagnosis of mood disorder caused by a general medical condition, what the patient feels has to be directly caused by their condition; if their symptoms are a result of how they feel because of their condition, it would not be considered a mood disorder due to a general medical condition.

While most depressive disorders strike women more than men, mood disorder caused by a general medical condition affect both genders equally. For example, 50 percent of all patients recovering from a stroke experience depressive symptoms.

How Can a Mood Disorder Caused by a General Medical Condition Be Treated?

Treating a mood disorder due to a general medical condition can involve the administration of standard medications: antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. All three work in different ways to alleviate the symptoms of depressive effects and restore balance to the brain’s neurotransmitters that are responsible for regulating mood. Psychotherapy can also be employed to teach the patient healthy and uplifting ways of coping with the onset of their depressive symptoms.

However, treatment of a mood disorder as a result of a general medical condition should also address the underlying medical cause. This may involve continuing the standard treatment approaches for the primary medical concern, although there may be issues of compatibility with the antidepressant medication being concurrently prescribed. Psychotherapy is important here as well, since patients may have difficulty understanding the connection between their mood disorder and the medical illness.

A medical condition compounded by a mood disorder can make life very difficult, but Black Bear Lodge is here to help you. We have trained mental health professionals who can answer your questions about mood disorder due to a general medical condition when you enroll in an all-encompassing treatment program here. Please call us today to find out how we can assist you.