A person’s mood is part of their personality. Everyone feels sad, gets in a bad mood, or has a “mood swing” occasionally, but people with mood disorders cannot control these emotional difficulties. This person may not have a bad personality but rather a mood disorder (aka affective disorder) that causes mood swings and moody behavior. Many times, people will look for ways to cope with bad moods, and they may even turn to drugs or alcohol. The drugs and alcohol likely won’t help with the mood swings and will only exacerbate existing problems. Once someone recognizes a problem, they need to cure the addiction. However, they need to cure the mood disorder to get to the root of the problem.
At Granite Recovery Centers, we tackle addiction and mental health disorders to help people walk out a happier, healthier person. If you think your problem may derive from a mood disorder, you should learn more to help identify and manage it. Here is everything you need to know about mood disorders.
Mood disorders, or affective disorders, are characterized by significant emotional disturbances such as depression, hypomania, or mania. These mental health disorders are prevalent and can lead to increased morbidity and mortality. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), mood disorders are divided into two categories: bipolar and related disorders and depressive disorders. Within these two categories, there are various mood disorder subtypes. Some mood disorder subtypes include:
Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder refers to what most of us would call depression. It is a mood disorder that causes a person to experience intense moments of extreme sadness. The sadness may also come with feelings of emptiness, fatigue, and not wanting to do things the person previously enjoyed. They may suffer from crying spells and feelings of nothingness. The sadness can get so bad that someone may even consider suicide or, worse yet, follow through with suicide.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)
Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) refers to chronic depression that lasts in the background of a person’s mind for years, if not decades. People with this disorder likely won’t be happy very often. However, they may not be completely devastatingly depressed, either. They get through each day with a lingering feeling of negativity perpetually tagging along with them. They may come across as sad or lethargic to other people. Dysthymia is easy for people who don’t understand to dismiss as “the blues,” but it’s much more.
Bipolar I Disorder
Bipolar I refers to a disorder categorized by manic episodes that include fits of laughter and extreme energy bursts. This disorder can sometimes lead to extremely impulsive and even dangerous behavior. People with bipolar I may have periods of coming down after an episode.
Bipolar II Disorder
Bipolar II refers to bouts of depression as well as bouts of mania. However, people with bipolar II do not have extreme manic episodes. They may still behave impulsively, but it may not be quite as alarming. People with bipolar II may appear to have mood swings that change quickly.
Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder refers to angry outbursts in children, similar to a tantrum, that is inappropriate for the child’s age. The outbursts usually come out of nowhere with little to no cause. This disorder is specific to people under the age of 18.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Some women experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is a disorder that affects certain women about a week before their period. They may get irritable and depressed. Luckily, most symptoms should disappear by the onset of a woman’s cycle.
Cyclothymic disorder is reminiscent of bipolar disorder because people experience mood swings that range from depressed to manic. However, they are not as intense as the mood swings in bipolar disorder. This does not mean that the results cannot be devastating, especially if the condition goes untreated for an extended period.
Signs of a Mood Disorder
It’s important to note if you suspect you or someone you love has a mood disorder. When you identify the problem, you take the first step to getting help. Here are some of the signs of a mood disorder:
Eating More or Less: Many people with a mood disorder see an effect on their eating habits. Someone may eat significantly more or less. It’s a warning sign if you notice drastic weight loss or weight gain in a short period.
Fatigue: Many people with a mood disorders appear tired most of the time. They may also seem to sleep in bed all day.
Insomnia: Other people with mood disorders may never seem to sleep. They may stay up all night unable to sleep and then go through the next day extremely exhausted.
Anxiety: Mood disorders can lead to severe anxiety that makes someone afraid to go about their daily life.
Severe Guilt: People with a mood disorder may feel excessively guilty or guilt for things that are unnecessary.
Irritability: When emotions build up, people with mood disorders may act out angrily. This can include screaming and other inappropriate behavior.
Feelings of Emptiness: A black cloud can follow people with mood disorders that involve depression. They may not feel great about life and their place in it.
Suicidal Thoughts: In the worst cases, people may develop suicidal tendencies. If someone is suicidal, they may take action one day. Anyone who suffers from suicidal thoughts should get help right away. Call the police in any emergency cases. Afterward, talk to someone at a rehabilitation center who can help.
If you notice some of these symptoms in yourself or someone you love, you must take action. You should make an appointment with a therapist if the symptoms are mild. The therapist will tell you if they think talk therapy is enough or if you should talk to a psychiatrist about medication. If there are serious cases that include suicidal thoughts or self-harm, a rehabilitation center is the best solution.
Mood Disorder Causes
One may develop a mood disorder for many reasons, and multiple causes can contribute. Some of the possible causes include:
Genetics: Some mood disorders are passed down from one person to another. This means that the person is born with the disorder and may even demonstrate symptoms early in life. Just because a condition is passed down genetically does not mean it needs to be exactly like the parent’s disorder. People can have unique symptoms.
Trauma: Some people develop a mood disorder after serious trauma that happens in their life. Trauma can include abuse, an accident, war, or health concerns. The trauma may alter the brain, or it can cause new behavior.
Chemical Imbalance: Some chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters affect a person’s mood. When too many or too few of these chemicals are activated, it can create mood instability. In most cases, the imbalance will be corrected by medication prescribed by a psychiatrist.
Life Change: Some people do not respond well to change. Change can involve a move, divorce, a new job, or a baby. The change can be traumatic in itself and lead to a mood disorder. Once again, the changes could lead to new behavior, too.
Drug/Alcohol Abuse: Drugs and alcohol are bad for the body. They are also bad for the mood. Drugs and alcohol can make mood disorders worse if you already have them. They can also create a mood disorder in time. Addiction can lead to depression and mania that could become part of the personality.
Mood Disorders and Addiction
Mood disorders can lead to addiction. This is because people with a mood disorder may be feeling so poorly that they want to hide the pain of the depression or manic feelings with drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, the addiction may only enhance mood disorder.
Many people who are irritable when sober will get even more irritable when intoxicated. Drugs and alcohol can also perpetuate depression. This can make someone want to use it even more. This becomes an endless cycle that may require help from a rehabilitation center.
Mood Disorder Treatment
Mood disorders require treatment and usually extended care. There are several different forms of treatment, and they are typically most effective when used in conjunction with other forms of treatment.
In extreme cases where a mood disorder has led to harmful behavior or addiction, rehabilitation may be the best solution. In rehab, the patient will get medical attention for anything life-threatening, and they will also get mental health care for any mood disorders that caused this behavior. The patient will be in a safe space that will keep them safe from themselves. They will also have adequate care while they go through any withdrawal they may be experiencing.
2. Talk Therapy
Talk therapy is a form of therapy that encourages the patient to express themselves, especially when it concerns their mood disorder. Topics include triggers, coping mechanisms, and finding support. Therapy can be one-on-one or in a group setting. Therapy is often covered by insurance, but there are also free services for anyone needing help.
There are numerous philosophies to therapy. Many of them involve training the brain to identify triggers and problematic behavior. From there, the goal is to replace the negativity with new thoughts that are more productive. Eventually, changed behavior will lead to changing emotions.
Medication can control the neurotransmitters in your brain that affect mood. Serotonin and dopamine are two of the most important neurotransmitters, and medication can increase or decrease their levels.
4. Holistic Treatments
Many people prefer to go the holistic route. Holistic therapies do not involve any medical treatments or medication. Instead, the treatments focus on meditation, energy, and clean living. One of the simplest holistic treatments involves eating well and exercising. These small actions can have a serious effect on your mood and your behavior without the need for any medication. However, this works best for mild cases.
If you or someone you love suffers from a mood disorder, you should take action immediately. Talk to the professionals at Granite Recovery Centers, especially if the mood disorder has led to addiction. Mental health professionals will be able to handle both the addiction and the mood disorder in a way that builds the individual as a whole person.