Sometimes referred to as affective disorders, mood disorders are more common than most are aware of. Modern science had aided in the treatment of a variety of disorders and consequently made their symptoms manageable enough for the diagnosed to live a very normal life. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that 20.9 million US citizens ages 18 and older have been diagnosed with one. That means it’s quite probable that you know someone with a mood disorder.
In all reality you likely have a coworker, friend or even family member suffering from a disorder such as depression, bipolar or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Being unaware of it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Many victims of mood disorders don’t speak up about their troubles
because there’s an overwhelming stigma against mental illness in America. According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, those who are aware that something is wrong may still delay treatment or even the pursuit of a diagnosis due to this stigmatization.
Think about how many times you’ve heard someone callously refer to another person’s behavior as “crazy” or “bipolar.” It’s so common in our society to use such terminology loosely that you hear the references often in movies and song lyrics. Now think about how it might feel to someone who actually has bipolar disorder to hear those comments. The same APA study claims that the American stigma against mental illness diminishes self-esteem in sufferers of these disorders.
Traditionally, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) grouped many disorders together with regard to each being a mood disorder. Recent updates in the manual have changed the classifications so that “depressive disorders” and “bipolar and related disorders” are their own subsets, per Healthline. Nonetheless, all are mood-related disorders that require somewhat similar treatment and exhibit some like symptoms. According to Healthline, anxiety disorders are also considered to be mood disorders.
The signs of a mood disorder aren’t always obvious. Not everyone experiences them in the same fashion, but most have similar red flags. If you suspect that you or someone you know might be suffering from a mood disorder, look for these telltale signs, per Johns Hopkins Medicine:
- Ongoing feelings of despair and hopelessness
- Extreme guilt, self-loathing, and feeling like you don’t measure up
- Feeling like you want to die
- Loss of interest in things you once liked doing
- Strained relationships
- Trouble sleeping or excessive sleepiness
- Appetite and weight fluctuations
- Trouble concentrating
- Suicidal ideations
- Physical ailments; aches and pains that persist
- Feeling like you want to run away; “fight or flight” response
- Aggressive moods/behaviors; feeling irritable or argumentative
- Loss of ability to make decisions
A few of the more commonly known mood-related disorders are major depressive disorder (MDD), postpartum depression (PPD), and bipolar disorder. In order to be diagnosed with a mood disorder, certain criteria must be met. This means the patient must present a set number of specific symptoms, and often within a certain time period or in a certain pattern in order to be diagnosed.
The Reproductive Link
In a Northwestern Medicine study of 10,000 new mothers, 14 percent met the criteria for a diagnosis of postpartum depression. In recent years, news of the diagnosis being rendered to men has made for some interesting conversations. Nonetheless, a 2010 study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association touted that about 10 percent of new fathers meet the criteria for postpartum depression too. Recent speculation in the medical field has pointed to a possible link between PPD and another disorder that’s been making headlines called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
PMDD is also now classified as a depressive disorder, reports the American Psychiatric Association. While the Office of Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Human Services states that at least 85 percent of all women have symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). According to Psych Central, women with the disorder suffer from debilitating symptoms that severely interfere with their quality of life, such as explosive rage and feelings of intense anger, an overall feeling that they’ve lost control of themselves and feelings of desperation and hopelessness. Symptoms occur monthly during the last two weeks of a woman’s menstrual cycle (the luteal phase); ovulation triggers the onset of symptoms, which don’t subside until menstruation begins, or shortly thereafter.
Thought to have some hereditary roots, nothing genetic has been singled out, but many women report the disorder running through their families. In many females, the beginning of menses initiates the occurrence of PMDD; in others, it doesn’t spring up until later in life, sometimes following pregnancy and other times out of nowhere. According to the NIMH, women are already 50 percent more likely to have a mood disorder in their lifetime than men are. Given its name, you can correctly assume that PMDD is a female-only disorder. The Cleveland Clinic states that PMDD occurs in three to five percent of menstruating females.
Major Depressive Disorder+
Sometimes referred to as clinical depression, depression affects one in 10 adults, per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms can vary somewhat from person to person, but most will show symptoms of noticeable lethargy, loss of interest in things they once enjoyed, feelings of self-loathing and guilt, irritability, and trouble concentrating. For some, depression is an illness they’ll battle all their life. For others, it may come in spurts, such as the way it does with seasonal affective disorder — once thought of as a mood disorder but now classified as a seasonal depressive disorder that generally occurs through the autumn and winter months, disappearing when warmer weather and increased sunshine appear. Then some people experience major depressive disorder as just a bump in the road following a trauma or unfortunate event which eventually dissipates. When MDD persists for more than two years, it is classified as chronic major depression.
MDD is generally linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Johns Hopkins Medicine states that mood disorders are more likely to arise in patients who have a parent with a mood disorder. However, having a disorder-free set of parents doesn’t exempt you from developing one yourself. Part of the cause of many mood disorders is entirely environmental.
Known to occur alongside other mood-related disorders, dysthymic disorder is present in the lives of nearly five percent of the worldwide population, according to WebMD. This disorder has only lows, trademarked by its ability to make the sufferers feel depressed, negative and downtrodden every day of their lives. According to WebMD, dysthymic disorder is thought to occur, in part, due to persistent stress or illness, social isolation, neurological abnormalities where emotional processing is concerned, genetics, ineffective coping techniques, and troubles acclimating to changes or stressors in life.
According to WebMD, there are five types of bipolar disorder; they are: bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic, mixed bipolar, and rapid cycling bipolar disorder. Each possesses fairly similar symptoms with minor differences that set them apart. Unlike depression, bipolar disorder is with the diagnosed party for life. Once known as manic-depression, bipolar disorder typically causes the sufferer to have mood swings, going from elation and all-consuming joy to despair and deep depression. The former is generally accompanied by mania that can present in many forms, from insomnia for days on end to excessive spending and shopping sprees. Restlessness, speaking fast, and racing thoughts are other symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is thought to be caused by a compilation of many factors — some hereditary, some environmental — like most depressive mood disorders. For this reason, a combination of medication and talk therapy remains the most effective treatment method for mood disorders across the board. NIMH makes it quite clear that there are genetic and neurological factors in play in the development of bipolar disorder, but carrying said genes does not mean bipolar disorder is imminent, only more probable.
As you can see, diagnosis of mood-related disorders isn’t cut and dry. Even an experienced psychiatrist can have difficulty treating a patient, especially when more than one disorder is to blame, a condition known as a Dual Diagnosis. To have a Dual Diagnosis, a patient must be suffering from two separate issues. Sometimes these come in the form of two mood disorders; other times, a different problem, such as substance abuse, accompanies the mood disorder.
Mood Disorders Meet Substance Abuse
Substance abuse often intensifies the feelings an addict has when experiencing a bipolar high; likewise, drug and alcohol abuse are particularly common among bipolar people. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that those diagnosed with a mood disorder are nearly twice as likely to develop substance abuse problems. In addition, a Medical University of South Carolina study notes that those with diagnosed bipolar disorder that is further complicated by substance use or dependence are more likely to have mixed periods of mania and depression, with frequent cycling back and forth between them. A 1999 study by the same institution accounted for substance abuse among 50 percent of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Unbeknownst to many, there is also a classification of mental illnesses that are caused directly by substance abuse. Per the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, drug and alcohol abuse can trigger the development of mood disorders too. A study published by the National Institute of Health documented the development of bipolar disorder in a patient following the use of steroids. It is unclear in many cases whether substance abuse is the cause or effect of a mood disorder. Regardless, when both are in play, forgoing treatment can take you down the path of a vicious cycle where there seems to be no escape.
Both mood disorders and substance abuse are serious issues that should not be ignored. Without the hope for a new life that professional treatment can provide, the conditions will get worse. A 1994 study by the Center for Psychiatry Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Florida produced results that support this claim, with patients who were seen three to 3.5 months after their depressive symptoms presented reached stability, while those who weren’t seen for treatment until eight to 10 months into the onset of their depression did not stabilize.
Imbalances that cause issues like major depressive disorder can often be remedied with a doctor’s prescription plan utilizing antidepressants. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are medications used to increase the production of feel-good chemicals in the brain that someone with depression is lacking. These medications are a common form of treatment for a nearly every kind of mood disorder. Sometimes, in the case of disorders like bipolar, mood stabilizers are needed to maintain consistency during the typical highs and lows that a sufferer experiences. Psych Central reports that atypical antipsychotics are sometimes prescribed for bipolar treatment too.
Medications vary to an extent dependent upon the disorder at hand. In recent years, certain hormonal birth controls, like Yaz, have been approved to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder — something SSRIs are commonly prescribed for as well. Unfortunately, in the case of PMDD and many other mood-related disorders, no one medication seems to suit all patients. Therefore, finding a successful treatment can sometimes take some trial and error experimentation.
Talk therapy is a convenient and effective method for the treatment of many mood disorders as well. While medication is often needed to control the physiological parts of said disorders, treatment approaches such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) can teach the sufferer many important skills for coping with and managing their mood disorder effectively. A 2001 study by the Psychiatric Clinic of North America touts CBT as a potentially effective therapy for depression and bipolar disorder, as well as post-treatment maintenance in an effort to prevent relapse.
At our state-of-the-art facility here at Black Bear Lodge, you won’t have to worry about misdiagnosis or going home unprepared. Our professional staff will help you get to root of your problems and treat both your mood disorder and your substance abuse problems in conjunction with one another. Supervised detox with the assistance of consulting physicians is also available for those who need it.
Following residential treatment at Black Bear Lodge, many worry what will become of them as they transition back to their daily lives. This is a valid concern, but the preparation you undergo here will ease those worries. For those who need the extra reassurance and structure, our intensive outpatient therapy program has demonstrated its effectiveness time and again. When enrolled in ongoing outpatient treatment, you will continue to have the support of our qualified staff while seguing back into relationships with friends, family, work and society.
There’s no reason to keep using drugs or alcohol to check out of your life in order to deal with the symptoms of a mood disorder. Help is available and waiting for you. Call today to find out how we can help you gain control of your life again.