Types of Mood Disorders
Everyone experiences fluctuations in mood, whether or not they have been diagnosed with a mood disorder. As part of the human condition, we are each bound to feel sadness, joy, and the emotions that lie within and outside of this range at some point in time. It is when our emotions become counterproductive, interfere with how we conduct ourselves on a daily basis, or completely overwhelm and overshadow who we are, however, that help becomes necessary.
Mood disorders are a specific type of psychiatric condition that deal primarily with our emotional state. There are two types of mood disorders, depression and bipolar disorder (formerly called ‘manic depression’), and each have subcategories that further detail how they can present. While this list is not exhaustive, some of the classic trademarks of mood disorders include feelings of hopelessness, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, unwanted weight gain or loss, lethargy, anhedonia, irritability, prolonged feelings of sadness and emptiness, and an inability to focus. Let’s take a more in depth look at depression and bipolar disorder.
There are several types of depression, including postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), depression as a reaction to grief, and even seasonal affective disorder, appropriately described by its acronym: S.A.D. While each of these conditions can be debilitating in its own right, they are each linked to a specific event or episode that preempts them. Other forms of depression are often long lasting, well beyond their initial onset.
Also known as persistent depressive disorder, dysthymia, or dysthymic disorder, is a chronic condition in which depression is felt on a long term, day-to-day basis, for years, if not a lifetime. Individuals with dysthymia often lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, are unable to be productive, have feelings of hopelessness, and are generally described as forlorn, gloomy, and temperamental. Relationships, job opportunities, and interpersonal connections may suffer as a result of this condition. In addition, decreased socialization with others who do not or cannot deal with these symptoms, can add to already existing feelings of depression and unworthiness.
Cyclothymia, or cyclothymic disorder, can be confused with bipolar disorder because of the alternating changes in mood seen in both conditions. With cyclothymic disorder, however, individuals experience highs and lows that can last days to years, with periods of calm and stability between episodes. No matter how long these periods last though, they are not considered as diagnostically extreme as they would be with bipolar disorder. Individuals with this cyclothymia can enjoy stretches of time in which they can socialize, work, maintain relationships and function quite well. Because the onset of a depressive or hyper state is so unpredictable though, some individuals may keep to themselves or interact as minimally as possible, for fear of having a “flare up” of depression or mania in public.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme changes in mood, that can last for several months at a time. The depression one feels with this disorder is similar to that of other types of depression. Manic episodes are the alternate mood, and are characterized by feelings of invincibility. People experiencing mania often stay up for days at a time, have excessive amounts of energy, may be hypersexual, and have a pronounced inability to focus. The period between episodes is not guaranteed to be symptom free, but certainly more regulated.
Though bipolar disorder can be treated with psychotropic medications, it is difficult to get the right balance, as the medication needs to treat one part of the disorder without triggering the other. And because some patients feel more productive and energetic during periods of mania, medication compliance can be tricky. These are just some of the contributing factors to the high suicide rate of individuals with bipolar disease. In fact, neary 14 percent of those diagnosed die as a result of self inflicted injuries.
Bipolar disorder can be divided into two subgroups. In order to be diagnosed with Bipolar I, one must have experienced at least one episode of mania as well as an episode of depression. Additionally, the depressive episode has to have occurred either before or after the manic episode. Mood states within bipolar I tend to be very dramatic and extreme.
With bipolar II, one must have experienced an episode of major depression for at least two weeks and at least one hypomanic event. Bipolar II can be misdiagnosed as unipolar depression, as the mania is generally less pronounced than in bipolar I.
Holistic Care- How the Mind Affects the Body
When we experience a physical ailment, we often feel irritable or sad. In the same vein, feeling depressed or manic can create physical symptoms that create an imbalance in the mind- body connection.
Cardiac problems, gastrointestinal ailments, respiratory issues, and orthopedic diagnoses are amongst just some of the ways in which mood disorders can affect the body. Here are some ways in which these affects manifest:
- Individuals with depression or mania may have difficulty with concentration, thereby making gainful employment, self sufficiency, and the ability to financially care for oneself difficult to maintain.
- Serotonin, a neurotransmitter whose lack contributes to depression and depressive episodes, is produced in the gastrointestinal system. A decrease in this chemical also contributes to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other debilitating conditions.
- Depression has been shown to promote osteoporosis based on noted links between mood disorder and bone density.
- Mood disorders in general can contribute to poor self care in many areas, including eating properly, getting enough sleep, and maintaining positive, supportive relationships. If left unchecked, these behaviors make individuals highly sustepcible to developing a myriad of life altering, as well as life limiting diseases.
Treatment for Mood Disorders
Despite their chronicity and long term effects, there are ways to effectively treat depression and bipolar disorder. Neither condition can be cured and must be managed and contended with every day. Still, there are treatment options that can greatly improve one’s quality of life.
Meeting with a mental health specialist with whom you can confide in and trust, is often of great benefit. Psychotherapy can help tremendously, whether someone is enjoying a period of relative calm or an active episode. Medication is also a viable and effective treatment for many with depression or bipolar disorder. While there remains a stigma surrounding psychotropic medications by those who fear that they serve as a band-aid rather than actual treatment, it is important to reframe that approach. For many, medication allows individuals to open up to a therapist, attack the challenges they struggle with on a daily basis, and live a productive, happy life. Lastly, EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is an innovative treatment option that many have touted as producing the types of success gained from years of psychotherapy in just a few sessions.
When it is Time to Get Help
Mood disorders can wreak havoc on one’s life and if left untreated, destroy not only that of the sufferer, but those who love and care for them. Treatments such as psychotherapy and medication are far more adaptive than the abuse of alcohol, drugs, or other dangerous substances, used in an attempt to numb the emotional and physical pain.
All of us have a right to feel healthy and whole. The services at Body Systems Wellness in Glendale, California can provide complementary services that both enhance your mood and bring you to a place of wellness. Dr. Shahen Kurestian, DC understands that life can be difficult, even on the best of days. That is why he and his staff are dedicated to the public’s mental and physical safety, security, and welfare. As such, their convictions to holistic care that includes mind, body, and soul are unwavering. This is demonstrated by their service, as well as their ability to work in concert with psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners you may already be seeing.
Mental illnesses of all kinds continue to be shrouded under unnecessary and dangerous stigma. Just as there is no shame in getting treatment for a broken leg or collapsed lung, there should be no shame in getting treatment for depression and bipolar disorder. If you feel that your mood has impeded your ability to function, please seek treatment and contact Body Systems Wellness for a free consultation to see how we can be of help. If you feel hopeless, helpless, or suicidal, contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline first, at 1-800-273-8255.