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What Are the Different Mood Disorders and Their Features?

Explore this list of mood disorders and the unique features of each type.
woman with curly hair looking thoughtful and upset
In this article, we will discuss the list of mood disorders and the specific features of each one.

List of Mood Disorders

Classifying Mood Disorders:
  • An illness that involves mood extremes that interfere with everyday living
  • Most researchers believe many mood disorders are caused by complex imbalances in the brain’s chemical activity
  • They also believe that environmental factors can be triggers.

Types of Mood Disorders

  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Source: Health Direct, 2019.

Criteria for Major Depression

  • Depressed mood
  • Diminished interest
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Restlessness or being slowed down
  • Fatigue & loss of energy
  • Thoughts of death
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Difficulty thinking & concentrating
  • Symptoms occur every day
  • Significant distress & impairment.
Reach Out, 2019b.

Bipolar Disorder

  • A manic-depressive disorder, marked by extreme mood changes, energy levels, and behaviour
  • Alterations of wild elation and deep depression
  • Can be accompanied by delusions and hallucinations.
Bipolar Disorder is when people experience serious extremes of mood, to the point where their moods interfere with their daily life. If you have Bipolar Disorder, your mood is likely to go through extreme highs (known as mania or hypomania) and lows (known as depression).
People with Bipolar Disorder can experience moods that don’t necessarily make sense in the context of what’s going on around them. The moods can be very disruptive and make it difficult to function in day-to-day life.
When you’re experiencing a high or low mood with Bipolar Disorder, one specific mood extreme can last for weeks or even months.
Source: Reach Out, 2019.

Signs and Symptoms

Someone with Bipolar Disorder will experience mood changes ranging between manic and depressive episodes.
It’s also common to feel or experience:
  • High self-esteem
  • Increased energy
  • A reduced need for sleep
  • An increase in goal-directed behaviour (e.g. staying up all night to get something done)
  • Racing thoughts
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Increased sexual activity
  • Excessive spending.
During a manic episode, people can also become out of control, feel very anxious, and become frustrated and angry. They can become reckless without realizing it, engage in dangerous behaviour and take huge risks. Mania can also cause psychotic thoughts and actions.

When experiencing a depressed episode, it’s common to feel or experience:

  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • A loss of energy
  • Difficulties with concentration
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder is caused by a combination of things, including your genes, and it can be brought on by stress, certain brain chemicals, and/or your environment. However, significant use of alcohol and other drugs may trigger symptoms of the disorder or worsen existing symptoms.
People with Bipolar Disorder are more likely to engage in risky behaviour such as drinking heavily or taking drugs. It’s also been known for people with Bipolar Disorder to self-medicate and to try and regulate their extreme moods using drugs or alcohol.

What Are the Different Types of Bipolar Disorder?

There are several different types of Bipolar Disorder, and the type you’re diagnosed with often depends on your individual experience of mood changes, including how quickly your mood changes.
  • Bipolar I People with Bipolar I usually experience extreme highs (mania) that may be long-lasting, plus depressive episodes, and possibly psychotic episodes.
  • Bipolar II People with Bipolar II usually experience highs that are less extreme than mania (called hypomania) and only lasts for a few hours or days. They also have depressive episodes. Between extreme moods, they might have times when their mood is relatively normal.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder A milder form of bipolar in which moods are not as extreme.
  • Bipolar Disorder is otherwise not specified. The mood changes that are experienced by people with Bipolar Disorder are different for everyone; this diagnosis is for those people who don’t fit into the above three categories.
Source: Reach Out, 2019c.

Eating Disorders

Causes
Can be caused by psychological pressures, possible genetic factors, and an obsession with body image and thinness.

Types of Eating Disorders

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Binge Eating Disorder.

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that involves very low weight, a distorted body image, and an obsessive fear of gaining weight
  • People with Anorexia Nervosa may see themselves as being heavy or large when they are really severely underweight. They follow restrictive diets and harsh, punishing exercise routines
  • Anorexia Nervosa is a serious mental illness where people control food as a way of controlling areas of their lives or dealing with emotions. It can lead to malnutrition and serious health problems which can be life-threatening
  • A person with Anorexia Nervosa can fully recover from their disorder with help. But it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. The sooner the condition is diagnosed and treated, the better the chances of recovery
  • Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa can help someone achieve a healthy weight and develop healthy eating habits, as well as address any psychological or emotional issues.

Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder

  • Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder
  • It can refer to simply Bulimia, or Binge-Eating Disorder (BED), a mental health condition that causes a person to binge-eat
  • A person with BED finds it very difficult to control their eating during a binge
  • As with other eating disorders, Bulimia Nervosa can lead to serious health problems, but effective treatment is available
  • People with Bulimia Nervosa can consume an enormous amount of food in one session
  • They may then use ‘purging’ methods to try and get rid of the food.
  • This can involve deliberate vomiting, taking laxatives, extreme exercise, or other methods.
  • People with Bulimia Nervosa may also use strict dieting, fasting or taking diet pills to compensate for the binges
  • People with BED do not purge or try to compensate for their binges.

Conduct Disorders

A disorder in which a person regularly violates the rights of others and breaks social rules.
People with Conduct Disorders might:
  • Bully others
  • Start fights
  • Be cruel to animals
  • Damage property, steal or start fires
  • Be deceitful
  • These people violate rules and have little remorse
  • May abuse alcohol or drugs.

Conduct Disorder Treatment

Treatment for Conduct Disorder will vary depending on the age of the individual and their symptoms. Conduct Disorder can sometimes can lead to depression, bipolar disorder, or other mental health and behavioral challenges later in life, so early evaluation and treatment is key for children.
Treatment can prove difficult because children are often uncooperative and distrustful of adults. It is important for parents and other significant adults in the child or teen’s life to remain patient and committed to working with them and building a team of support for them.
Treatment for Conduct Disorder typically involves both individual and family therapy, and the primary goal of treatment is to help the individual improve interactions with others.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is sometimes used to help an individual manage impulsive behaviors and deal with stress with positive coping strategies.
Family Therapy can help family members communicate more effectively and also help parents learn strategies for de-escalating conflict with their children. Family Therapy can also help reduce risk factors that lead to antisocial behaviors in the child.
Group Therapy with the child or teen’s peers is also sometimes used to help them develop interpersonal skills and behaviors that foster empathy.
School support is another important part of treatment for Conduct Disorder. For children and teens in school, a team of people will be assembled to help your child with Conduct Disorder. This team typically involves school counselors, school psychologists, social workers, administrators, and others.
Medication is not typically used to treat Conduct Disorder, but individuals with co-occurring disorders may be prescribed medication to treat symptoms of other conditions. Medication is typically prescribed if the child has attention issues or mood-related symptoms like depression.
To learn about mood disorders, check out this course: Personal trainer’s toolkit: Mental health first aid for fitness trainers by Central Queensland University.
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Personal Trainer's Toolkit: Mental Health First Aid for Fitness Trainers

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