Mood Disorder

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 11.6% of US adults aged 18 and older had a mood disorder in the past year, which is higher than the 7.7% of males. A 2017 study found that women have a higher prevalence of mental illness than men, with 22.3% of women compared to 15.1% of men. Depression is also twice as common in women, with almost a quarter of women experiencing a depressive episode in their lifetime.

What Exactly is a Mood Disorder?

A mood disorder is a mental health condition characterized by significant and persistent changes in mood. These changes can range from extreme sadness and hopelessness (depression) to periods of excessive energy and elation (mania). Mood disorders affect a person’s emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and physical well-being. Some of the most common types of mood disorders include major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia).

Root Causes of a Mood Disorder

Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, have complex and multifaceted causes. There is no single root cause, but rather a combination of factors that contribute to their development:

  • Biological Factors:Imbalances in brain chemicals, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, are strongly linked to mood disorders. These neurotransmitters play crucial roles in regulating emotions, motivation, and sleep.
  • Genetics:Mood disorders tend to run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition. Studies have identified certain genes that may increase the risk of developing these disorders.
  • Environmental Factors:Stressful life events, trauma, and chronic stress can trigger or worsen mood disorders. These experiences can disrupt the delicate balance of brain chemicals and contribute to emotional instability.
  • Medical Conditions:Certain medical conditions, such as chronic pain, thyroid problems, and neurological disorders, can contribute to the development of mood disorders. These conditions can affect brain function and disrupt the normal regulation of emotions.
  • Substance Abuse:Substance abuse can trigger or exacerbate mood disorders. Drugs and alcohol can alter brain chemistry and interfere with the normal regulation of emotions, leading to mood swings, depression, and anxiety.

The Impact of Mood Disorders on Individuals

Mood disorders can significantly impact various aspects of an individual’s life. These impacts can manifest in the following ways:


  • Persistent sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Feelings of anxiety, irritability, or anger
  • Low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions even during happy moments
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide


  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or excessive sleep
  • Fatigue or low energy levels
  • Physical aches and pains that do not have a clear medical cause
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions


  • Withdrawal from social interactions and activities
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships due to mood swings or emotional instability
  • Problems at work or school due to decreased performance and concentration
  • Increased reliance on unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse
  • Stigma and discrimination associated with mental health conditions


  • Increased risk of developing other mental health disorders like anxiety or substance abuse
  • Chronic physical health problems due to stress and unhealthy coping mechanisms
  • Financial difficulties due to unemployment or decreased productivity
  • Difficulty maintaining stable housing and relationships
  • Increased risk of suicide attempts and completed suicides

Diverse Shades of Mood Disorders

Mood disorders are mental health conditions that primarily affect a person’s emotional state. They are characterized by extreme or prolonged emotional states that disrupt daily life. There are several types of mood disorders, including:

Depressive Disorders

  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): Characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest, and difficulty functioning.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD/Dysthymia): A chronic form of depression with less severe symptoms than MDD but lasting for at least two years.
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): A severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) with mood swings, irritability, and depression.
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD): A childhood condition characterized by severe and frequent temper outbursts.
  • Substance/Medication-Induced Depressive Disorder: Depression caused by substance use or medication.
  • Depressive Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition: Depression caused by an underlying medical condition.

Bipolar and Related Disorder

  • Bipolar I Disorder: Characterized by at least one manic episode, often alternating with depressive episodes.
  • Bipolar II Disorder: Characterized by at least one hypomanic episode (less severe than mania) and at least one major depressive episode.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder: A milder form of bipolar disorder with mood swings between hypomania and mild depression.


Red Flags Indicating an Mood Disorder

Be vigilant of these signs:

  • Persistent sadness or low mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Significant changes in appetite or weight
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Effective Solutions for a Mood Disorder

  • Mood disorders encompass a wide range of conditions, each with varying symptoms and treatment approaches. However, some effective solutions are commonly used to manage and combat mood disorders:

    1. Psychotherapy (Talk Therapy):

    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Helps identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to mood problems.
    • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Focuses on emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.
    • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): Addresses interpersonal issues and conflicts that may worsen mood symptoms.

    2. Medication:

    • Antidepressants: Used to treat depression and sometimes anxiety.
    • Mood Stabilizers: Used to manage mood swings in bipolar disorder.
    • Anxiolytics: Used to treat anxiety disorders.

    3. Lifestyle Changes:

    • Regular Exercise: Improves mood and reduces stress.
    • Healthy Sleep Habits: Essential for mood regulation.
    • Healthy Diet: Nutritious food supports brain health and mood stability.
    • Stress Management Techniques: Such as mindfulness and relaxation exercises.

    4. Support Groups:

    • Peer Support Groups: Provide a safe space to share experiences and gain support from others facing similar challenges.

    5. Other Therapies:

    • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): Used in severe cases of depression.
    • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): A non-invasive treatment for depression.
    • Light Therapy: Used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Call Sun County Wellness Today!

If a mood disorder is encroaching on your life or affecting your child’s well-being, don’t bear the weight in silence. Reach out to Sun County Wellness, California’s trusted partner for women’s mental health treatment. We’re here to guide you towards a brighter, anxiety-free future.


No, mood disorders are not the same as the normal ups and downs everyone experiences. While everyone has mood changes in response to life events, mood disorders involve more severe and persistent shifts in mood that significantly impact daily life, relationships, and overall functioning. These mood shifts are often disproportionate to the situation and can last for weeks or months.

While lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and stress management techniques can be helpful in managing mood disorders, they are usually not enough on their own. Mood disorders often require professional treatment, which may include therapy and medication. Lifestyle changes can complement professional treatment and enhance its effectiveness.

If you are concerned about a loved one’s mood, look for significant changes in their usual behavior, sleep patterns, energy levels, appetite, and social withdrawal. Notice if they express feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or have thoughts of self-harm. If these changes persist for more than two weeks and significantly impact their daily life, encourage them to seek professional help.

Untreated mood disorders can have serious and long-lasting consequences. They can lead to relationship problems, difficulties at work or school, substance abuse, and even suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Early intervention and treatment are crucial for managing mood disorders and preventing these negative outcomes.