Mood disorders are a group of mental illnesses that impact mood and related functions. A mood disorder often interferes with daily life and eventually leads to behavioral disturbances, causing feelings of constant overwhelming sadness, irritability, anger, or stress.
The 5 most common types of mood disorders are:
- Bipolar disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- Mood disorder related to another health condition
- Substance-induced mood disorder
5 types of mood disorders
1. Bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder, also called manic depression, is characterized by alternating episodes of both mania and depression. During an episode of mania, the patient is in an elevated mood, feels extreme happiness, and presents with high energy levels. During an episode of depression, the patient is in a very low mood and acts as if there is no hope for life.
Bipolar disorder is subdivided into 4 types:
- Bipolar I: A person with bipolar I disorder has episodes of mania that last a week or more and may or may not have symptoms of depression. Manic symptoms may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. If the person has depression, symptoms may last for more than 2 weeks.
- Bipolar II: A person with bipolar II has symptoms of both mania and depression. Compared to bipolar I, mania in bipolar II is usually milder (hypomania). However, the depression episode lasts longer and may occur before or after a manic episode.
- Cyclothymic disorder: Cyclothymic disorder, also called cyclothymia, is a type of mood disorder in which a person experiences a series of "highs" and "lows" that are unconnected to their daily lives. Cyclothymic disorder is thought to be a milder variant of bipolar disorder, although it can still have a significant impact on the person’s life. Symptoms interfere with the ability to function properly due to sudden and intense mood fluctuations. An adult patient must experience mania and depression for 2 years in order to be diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder. Children must experience mania and depression for 1 year in order to be diagnosed with the disorder.
- Other types: If a person has symptoms that do not fall into one of the other categories of bipolar disorder, they are classified as type IV or other. Factors such as drugs, alcohol, or underlying medical conditions may contribute to this form of bipolar disorder.
2. Major depressive disorder
Major depressive disorder is characterized by a severe and prolonged low mood, intense sadness, irritability, or sense of dread. A person suffering from serious depression may also be unable to appreciate things that are normally pleasurable.
Major depression is more than just being in a foul mood, having a bad day, or experiencing a brief period of despair. Major depressive symptoms are described as lasting at least 2 weeks, but they commonly continue much longer, for months or even years.
Dysthymia is also called persistent depressive disorder (PDD), which is characterized by mild depression for an extended period, at least 2 years for adults and 1 year for adolescents and teenagers. Unlike major depressive disorder (MDD), in which a person has severe episodes that come and go, people with PDD experience mild episodes that last much longer.
4. Mood disorder related to another health condition
Changes in mood caused by depression may be a result of underlying health issues, such as cancer and HIV, or medications taken for a medical condition.
5. Substance-induced mood disorder
Substance-induced mood disorder, a generic diagnosis that covers opioid-induced depressive disorder, is an illness that develops when an individual suffers persistent depressive symptoms following substance use (such as an opioid), dosage reduction, or withdrawal.
What are symptoms of mood disorders?
Mood disorders are characterized by symptoms such as:
- Mood fluctuations
- Bouts of depression
- Unusual sleep habits
- Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed
In severe cases, the patient may present with:
Mood disorder symptoms vary depending on the type of disorder. For example, during a manic phase of bipolar disorder, a person may exhibit overexcitement and risky behavior. During a depressive episode, they may be extremely melancholy and show little interest in doing anything.
How are mood disorders diagnosed?
Physical exams are conducted to rule out any underlying medical issues that could be affecting mood. Doctors will also take into consideration family history, life events, and symptoms in order to make a diagnosis.
If other health conditions are ruled out, a mental health professional may conduct a series of tests to assess mood stability and mental health. Neuroimaging studies show promise in terms of improving diagnosis accuracy.
Due to the social stigma associated with mood disorders, many people are hesitant to seek treatment. As a result, many people go untreated, and only about 20% of those who are identified as having a mood disorder receive therapy.
What are treatment options for mood disorders?
People with mood disorders can live stable, productive, and healthy lives when they receive appropriate treatment. Treatment options may include:
- Medical treatment: Antidepressants and mood-stabilizing medications, particularly when paired with psychotherapy, have been shown to be quite effective in the treatment of depression.
- Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy typically includes cognitive behavioral and interpersonal therapy. This type of therapy aims to change the person's skewed perceptions of themselves and the world around them, helping them develop interpersonal relationship skills, identify triggers, and figure out ways to avoid them.
- Family counseling: Family support is essential to therapy and treatment. Involving family members and helping them understand what the affected individual is going through can help with the treatment process.
- Other treatments: Electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation are other types of treatment that may be used to treat mood disorders.
- Attachment Theory: What It Is, Stages & the Different Attachment Styles
- Gentle Parenting: What It Is, Techniques & Discipline
- U.S. Nursing Homes Fail to Report Many Serious Falls, Bedsores: Study
- The Younger You Get Diabetes, the Higher Your Risk for Dementia Later
- FDA Grants Full Approval to Paxlovid to Treat COVID-19
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Cedars-Sinai. Overview of Mood Disorders. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/o/overview-of-mood-disorders.html
PSYCOM. Mood Disorders. https://www.psycom.net/mood-disorders
University Hospitals. Mood Disorder Treatments. https://www.uhhospitals.org/services/adult-psychiatry-psychology/conditions-treatments/mood-disorders
Top 5 of the Most Common Types of Mood Disorders Related Articles
Bipolar Disorder (Mania) QuizWho is at risk for developing bipolar disorder? Are you? Take this Bipolar Disorder Quiz to learn more about bipolar disorder, if you're at risk, and what you can do about it.
What Is Bipolar Disorder? Symptoms, Manic Episodes, TestingBipolar disorder (formerly "manic depression") causes extreme mood shifts and manic episodes. Learn about bipolar 1, bipolar 2, and the meaning of bipolar disorder. Our experts define bipolar disorder, discuss bipolar symptoms, and describe bipolar medications that can help.
How Can I Boost My Mood and Mental Health Naturally?Mental health affects how you think, feel, and interact with the outside world. Boost your mood and mental health naturally by getting enough sleep, moving, eating well, stepping outside, and doing something you enjoy.
DysthymiaDysthymia is a less severe form of chronic depression. Symptoms and signs include insomnia, suicidal thoughts, guilt, empty feeling, loss of energy, helplessness, sluggishness, and persistent aches and pains. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy, and antidepressants.
Foods to Boost Your Energy and MoodLearn which foods may boost your energy level and have a positive impact on your mood. Foods such as salmon, Brazil nuts, and dark chocolate can give you more energy and make you happier.
Health and Balance: What’s Causing My Mood Swings?Bipolar disorder and mental illness are not the only causes of mood swings. Find out about common habits and conditions that can lead to changes in your mood.
How Can I Increase My Dopamine Levels Naturally?Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, which means it communicates chemical messages between the cells in your brain or between the cells in your brain and other parts of your body. Increase dopamine naturally by eating certain foods, listening to music, exercising, meditating, and going on a quest.
kavaKava (kava kava, Piper methysticum) is an herbal product used medicinally for its muscle relaxing and mood-elevating properties to treat insomnia, anxiety, and other related disorders. Common side effects of kava include acute liver inflammation (hepatitis), liver toxicity (hepatotoxicity), liver failure, allergic skin reactions, gastrointestinal upset, headache, dizziness, drowsiness, eye movement disorder, visual focusing (accommodation) disturbances, motor reflex impairment, and Parkinsonism. Kava has a risk of abuse, tolerance, addiction, and overdose. Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding.
L-methylfolateL-methylfolate is the active form of vitamin B9, also known as folate, used to supplement folate deficiency in people with major depressive disorder or schizophrenia, and megaloblastic anemia. Common side effects of L-methylfolate include allergic reactions, flatulence, abdominal distention, nausea, bitter or bad taste, loss of appetite (anorexia), impaired judgment, overactivity, excitement, difficulty concentrating, confusion, irritability, and changes in sleep patterns. Folic acid and l-methylfolate cannot be used interchangeably. Supplemental L-methylfolate intake during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is likely to be beneficial.
Mental HealthMental health is an optimal way of thinking, relating to others, and feeling. All of the diagnosable mental disorders fall under the umbrella of mental illness. Depression, anxiety, and substance-abuse disorders are common types of mental illness. Symptoms and signs of mental illness include irritability, moodiness, insomnia, headaches, and sadness. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
Moods QuizTake the moods quiz to learn about mood disorders and how your food and environment play major roles in how you feel.
What Are the Types of Bipolar Disorder?Bipolar disorder (also called manic-depressive illness or manic depression) is a mental condition that causes unusual and extreme shifts in mood. It is characterized by periods of deep, profound, and prolonged depression that alternate with periods of an excessively elevated or irritable mood known as mania. Bipolar disorder does not have a cure but with appropriate medical and psychological intervention, patients can better manage their symptoms and live a more normal life.
What Is Major Depression Disorder?The American Psychiatric Association defines major depressive disorder (depression) as a common, but serious, medical illness that negatively affects how one feels, thinks and acts. Depression causes sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and decrease a person’s ability to function at work and home.
What Kind of Drugs Are Mood Stabilizers?Mood stabilizers are a type of psychiatric drug used to help treat bipolar disorder and other conditions that cause extreme mood swings.