Depression and Mood Disorders

Mood disorders or depression disorders are more complicated than the name may imply. A mood disorder goes deeper than just a mild discontent or emotional shift. Mood disorders are characterized by a host of different disorders and mental health issues. Bipolar disorder, clinical depression (major depressive disorder), and more are defined under the term mood disorder.

Here we will discuss the different types of mood disorders and how they coincide with depression disorders.

What are Mood Disorders in Psychology?

Mood disorders are a mental health issue that significantly impacts a person's emotional state. They are disorders that may cause someone to experience prolonged periods of extreme happiness, extreme sorrow, or both periodically.

It is not uncommon for someone to experience a shift in their emotional state in normal situations. If a person is suddenly confronted with the loss of a family member in the midst of prior happiness, they may naturally respond by grieving and feeling depressed or sad due to the circumstance. However, persistent or prolonged periods of symptoms occurring over the course of weeks or months indicate a more severe issue at hand. Mood disorders can greatly affect your behavior, daily interactions, and ability to perform daily tasks at home, work, or school.

The two most commonly discussed and diagnosed mood disorders are depression and bipolar disorder. However, there are many subtypes and classifications to consider when seeking to understand what a mood disorder is. This article will seek to address these disorders and their many subgenres.

Is Depression a Mood or Personality Disorder?

Depression is considered a mood disorder. Personality disorders are more closely aligned with irregular patterns of belief, action, or thought - they are more aligned with a disassociation with reality (psychosis, paranoia, and/or narcissism, etc). Depression is characterized by disorders or mental health issues that hinder a person from functioning normally in their day to day activities. Mood disorders and depression may affect a person in such a way that their mood or emotional state becomes significantly altered, distorted, or confused despite their circumstances. These periods of depression may manifest as feeling extremely sad, a sense of emptiness and helplessness, irritation, hopelessness, as well as periods of time where excessive happiness or impulsivity occurs in-between bouts of depression.

Mood Disorder vs Depression

As stated above, mood disorders are characterized by similar traits and effects on the individual's mental health, daily activities, and social interactions. When discussing the types of mood disorders, it becomes apparent that mood disorders are closely linked to depressive episodes and depression related struggles. In order to see this more clearly, we will discuss the various types of mood disorders below.

Are Mood Disorders Mental Illnesses?

Mood disorders are defined as mental illnesses. A mood disorder is typically a broad term used to address a variety of depression disorders, extreme mood shifts, and mental health-related issues in children, teens, and adults. Due to the strain and potentially harmful effects, they take on the person's mental state and physical well-being, mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, major depression, substance abuse depression, etc, are classified as mental illnesses.

What are the Different Types of Mood Disorders?

There are several disorders that are considered depressive or mood disorders.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder is characterized by a prolonged struggle with feelings of emptiness, sadness, disinterest, and hopelessness. This can take effect for months to years depending on the individual's response to their depressive episodes.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (bipolar affective disorder or manic depression) is a chronic or episodic mental illness defined by alternating shifts between extremes: severe depression and extreme joy or impulsivity. Bipolar disorder can cause extreme fluctuations between bouts of mood swings, energy levels, and focuses.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder is a form of mood disorder that takes effect during periods of time with less sunlight. It more often occurs in higher or lower latitudes where sunlight appears in shorter periods during the fall to spring seasons.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)

Persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia is a prolonged chronic struggle with depression. It is often diagnosed due to the person experiencing continuous bouts of anger, frustration, sadness, irritability, and disinterest with their life. It is common for this disorder to last more than a couple of years.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is usually more severe than many people may realize. It is simply not a "baby blues" depressed mood. Mothers who suffer from postpartum depression may experience extreme battles with feelings of depression, helplessness, fear, anxiety, and exhaustion which can hinder them from taking the necessary steps toward daily care for themselves and/or their infants.

Psychotic Depression

Psychotic depression is a depression disorder that is paired with some form of psychosis. This may involve periods of extreme depression combined with delusional thoughts, paranoia, or hallucinations. It is common for those who suffer from psychotic depression to have similar themes in their episodes relating to guilt, shame, poverty, fear, or illness.

Medical Illness Depression

Medical illness depression is a type of depression or mood disorder that accompanies a separate medical condition. An example of this may include someone who has been diagnosed with cancer or undergone a serious surgical procedure and experiences depression as a result.

Substance-Induced Depression

This may go without saying. Substance-induced depression is when a person experiences periods of depression while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse-related depression may be experienced whether or not you are an addict.

What are the Symptoms of a Mood Disorder?

No person's struggles with mental health-related issues such as mood or depression disorders will look the same. However, there are some common symptoms. Symptoms of a mood disorder may include but are not limited to:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness
  • Feeling hopeless, or pessimistic
  • Irritability, anger issues
  • Persistent feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or shame
  • Disinterest in hobbies or daily activities
  • Lack of energy, fatigue, or sleep
  • Slower movement or speech
  • Irritation or hyperactivity
  • Hindered memory, concentration, or decisiveness
  • Insomnia, trouble staying asleep or oversleeping
  • Loss or increased appetite, rapid weight loss or gain
  • Suicidal thoughts, or suicide attempts
  • Issues with physical health: migraines, digestive issues, or aches and pains without an apparent cause.


No two individuals will suffer the same symptoms, nor will anyone suffer from every symptom listed. Depression manifests in many forms and mood disorders can greatly hinder the mental health of the victim. In some cases, certain people will only experience a mild case of one or two of the above symptoms, while someone else may experience severe cases of multiple symptoms. It is important to note how long and how persistent some of the symptoms are presenting themselves in order to receive a proper diagnosis. The length and the severity of the symptoms can vary from person to person and may differ depending on the stage of the disorder.

Treatment for Mood Disorders

There is no one diagnosis or statement which will appropriately address why or how mood disorders develop. Any of the aforementioned disorders or illnesses may present themselves in varying ways or develop for widely differing reasons. These can include stress-related situations, trauma, financial struggles, substance abuse, family history, or brain chemistry, including a host of other varying factors. However, there is hope and treatment for those suffering from depression.

In order to determine the presence of mental illness, a medical professional or expert in mental health must make the diagnosis. This can be accomplished through mental health and physical examination. Treatment for major depression, bipolar disorder, and more include a variety of options.

At times, relief may be found in medication-assisted treatment using drugs like antidepressants. In other cases, treatment can include psychotherapy. For many, a combination of the two proves to be the most helpful in rehabilitation and restoration.

Although it is common for some people to suffer from depression or mood disorders for the rest of their lives, consistent treatment and therapy can help relieve them of severe symptoms and help them develop healthy coping methods.

If you or a loved one are suffering from depression, Transformations Treatment Center offers psychotherapy options and medication-assisted treatment designed to provide unique treatment options for each client's specific needs. We understand the importance of individualized care and desire for you to experience hope and live a life with fewer debilitating symptoms.

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