Mood Disorders

Written by Kevin Tavolaro
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Mood disorders are a category of medical conditions related to depression, anxiety, social phobias, and interpersonal behaviors. These disorders are characterized by a number of symptoms, some physical, some psychological, some emotional, and some behavioral. Mood disorders tend to coexist within the same individual. That is to say, a person afflicted with one type of mood disorder--say, for instance, anxiety disorder--is likely to also experience symptoms of another disorder as well, such as clinical depression.

Depression, anxiety, stress, and fear have a tendency to reinforce each other within the same individual. For example, clinical depression can lead to social phobias regarding the diagnosis or symptoms, which might foster anxiety over the possible ramifications of the phobias. The combined effects of these afflictions are often responsible for the overwhelming despair many patients experience when attempting to confront and manage their mood disorder.

Symptoms of Mood Disorders

Mood disorder symptoms are divided into several categories. Symptoms of "manic" behavior may include inappropriately elevated moods, disproportionately irritable moods, hyperactivity, pressured speech, and large fluctuations in sociability, self esteem, and sleep patterns. Sudden, unexplained interest in enjoyable, but high risk activities can be another indicator of manic symptoms. Manic symptoms are often experienced in rotation with "depressive" symptoms. These include reductions in energy, loss of interest in life and previously enjoyed activities, increased sleep, slow thought/action dynamics, pervasive feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, or guilt, and loss of appetite.

Some individuals with mood disorders may also exhibit psychotic symptoms as well. These include hallucinations, delusions, ideas of reference, fugue states, and withdrawal from reality. When an individual experiences at least the first two of these categories in a constantly alternating rotation, they are afflicted with Manic-Depressive Disorder, also Known as Bipolar Mood Disorder. In all of these mood disorders, depression is the one phase that remains constant. Mania is usually experienced in smaller increments, often immediately before or after a particularly intense depressive episode.

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