What Are Mood Disorders?

Mood disorders are a group of mental illnesses that affect how you feel and think about yourself, others, and life in general. A mood disorder is diagnosed when feelings of sadness and worthlessness interfere with one’s ability to function physically, socially, at work or at home. A healthcare professional is the only one who can make an accurate diagnosis. Anyone of all ages can have mood disorders, however, children and teenagers don’t always have the same symptoms as adults. It can be challenging to diagnose mood disorders in them as they can’t fully express themselves like adults.

What causes mood disorders?

Many factors can lead to mood disorders, they can be caused by an imbalance of the brain chemicals, events that occur in life like stressful life changes and can also run in the family.

What are the different types of mood disorders?

  • Major depression: Having less interest in usual activities that you once enjoyed doing, feelings of sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, difficulty in sleeping and always feeling tired. When you have these symptoms for more than 2 weeks, it may indicate that you have depression, but you need to be diagnosed by a doctor first.
  • Dysthymia: This is a chronic depression or irritable mood that lasts for a longer period, it can even take some years.
  • Bipolar disorder: This is a condition in which a person has periods of depression alternating with periods of mania. Some people experience this as feeling very happy at one moment and then irritable on the next episode. During an episode of mania, many people also do things they wouldn’t normally do, such as having risky behaviours like having too much alcohol to drink and engaging in risky sexual behaviours.
  • Mood disorders related to other health conditions: Many medical illnesses like cancer, injuries, infections, and chronic illnesses can also trigger symptoms of depression.
  • Substance-induced mood disorder: Some symptoms of depression can also be due to certain medicines, drug and alcohol abuse and other forms of treatment.

What are the symptoms of mood disorders?

  1. Depending on one’s age and the type of mood disorder, a person can have different symptoms, below are some:
  2. Ongoing sadness, feeling anxious or empty
  3. Feeling hopeless or helpless
  4. Having a low self-esteem
  5. Feeling worthless
  6. Feeling extremely guilty
  7. Thoughts of death or suicide
  8. Loss of interest in usual activities or the ones that were once enjoyed.

How are mood disorders treated?

Mood disorders can be treated; treatment includes:

  • Medication: There is medication that can be prescribed by a health care professional which can be effective in treating the symptoms.
  • Counselling or Therapy: This type of counselling and therapy involves changing a person’s unhealthy views of themselves and everything around them. It helps in improving the relationship one has with themselves and how to tackle life stressors.
  • Self-management: There are some things you can do on your own to help you get better; exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep, spending time with friends and family, getting comfort from your spirituality and watching your substances and alcohol can help manage your mood changes.

If you think that you may have a mood disorder, talk to a healthcare professional who can recommend treatment and ways to cope. Remember that you are not alone Choma.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message, an  Instagram message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

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