The wide variety of emotions, joy, grief and sadness, are an integral part of the rich tapestry of human experience. Without them we would lose part of what it is to be an individual. However, mood swings or chronic depression can become so intense or fixed that they interfere with our lives or even put us in dangerous situations. Mood disorders can also co-exist with other problems such as anxiety or attention deficit disorder. Accurate diagnosis is important because we can often tailor psychotherapy, medication and other treatments for specific types of mood problems.
Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood: Mild to moderate depression that develops within 3 months of a significant life stress.
Bereavement: Although this may resemble depression, it is generally not classified as a mental disorder. Sometimes, though, it may develop into a clinical depression.
Major Depressive Disorder: At least 2 weeks of depressed mood. Changes in sleep, appetite and energy are common. Guilt, impaired concentration, and suicidal thoughts may be present.
Dysthymic Disorder: Milder but more chronic depressive symptoms. It must be present for at least 2 years in an adult or 1 year in a child or adolescent. Dysthymia may be present between episodes of Major Depression. If so, it is commonly called “Double Depression.”
Bipolar Disorder: The DSM-IV lists six diagnostic categories for bipolar disorder. The two main subdivisions are Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorder.
Bipolar I Disorder: The individual must have had at least one episode of true mania. Mania consists of at least a week of an abnormally elevated, irritable or grandiose mood. The affected individual may experience decreased need for sleep, pressured speech, racing thoughts, physical agitation, distractibility, and grandiose psychosis. Individuals often experience depressive episodes or mixed mood states.
Bipolar II Disorder: multiple episodes of depression and at least one episode of hypomania (mild to moderately elevated mood)
Seasonal Affective Disorder: Recurrent depression or bipolar disorder associated with specific times of the year.
Cyclothymic Disorder: Repeated periods of hypomania alternating with mild depression.
Substance-Induced Mood Disorder: Depression or other mood swings that occur only during intoxication or withdrawal from an alcohol drugs, or prescription medications.
Mood Disorder Due to a Medical Condition: Mood changes specifically related to a medical condition such as pancreatic cancer.
Schizoaffective Disorder: This condition has some features of schizophrenia and the mood disorders. Psychotic thoughts are often unrelated to the individual’s overall mood.