What is a mood disorder?

It is part of human nature for people to feel emotions such as sadness, frustration, or annoyance from time to time. When someone feels this way daily (or regularly) and the emotions start getting in the way of everyday tasks and activities, the person may have a mood disorder.

Mood disorders are a group of medical diagnoses in which a person's general mood is unbalanced or inconsistent. Having a mood disorder can be unpleasant for the person and his/her family, and in some cases can increase the risk for other health problems or self-harm.

  • Types of mood disorders

    Depressive disorders, a group of mood disorder types, are characterized by persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and occasional suicidal thoughts or actions, and interference with daily social and work activities.

    Some of the following symptoms of depressive disorders occur in patients almost every day for weeks or months at a time:

    • Feeling sad or anxious, often or all the time
    • Losing interest or pleasure in normal activities and relationships
    • Feeling tired or have lack of energy
    • Having trouble falling asleep or sleeping too much
    • Having trouble concentrating, focusing or making decisions
    • Feeling worthless, helpless, hopeless and/or guilty
    • Thinking about death, suicide or self-harm

    Anxiety disorders, another group of mood disorder types, affect many people who experience constant feelings of worry, fear, or panic, often times in situations where most people feel comfortable or at ease.

  • Causes and diagnosis

    The exact cause of depression is unknown. Researchers believe that there are many factors that can cause depression. Some of these factors include family history, a life event, drug or alcohol abuse, an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, or other health problems.

    Mood disorders are diagnosed based on a careful clinical evaluation of your history and symptoms by a healthcare professional.

    The doctor will determine which treatment(s) may be helpful for managing symptoms. This may include a combination of prescription medication, psychotherapy (also referred to as "talk therapy" or counseling), and/or lifestyle changes.

  • Additional resources