Mood Disorders: Mental Health

plant and book

Moods occur from specific experiences in our lives that we relate to an emotion or feeling too. Alterations occur in our emotions that cause mood disorders. These alterations cause psychological effects manifested from either depression or mania. Moods can be elevated or depressive and can cycle between the two. Mood disorders often go undetected and therefore untreated.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for men and women. Teachers are noticing an 85% increase in anxiety disorder and a 73% increase in depressive disorder. This extreme increase in mood disorders is likely from a lack of social skills and a decreased sense of community. Children and teenagers are being exposed to technologies that take away from physical interactions. Technology allows these children to develop relationships with others all around the world. Although these technological interactions are positive they also pose a risk for them to develop less face to face interactions. Cyberbullying is one of the leading forms of bullying which as a huge impact on the development of mood disorders.

As humans we can be socially aware of other’s facial expressions, body language, and posture and wonder what that mood disorders that person may be suffering from. This way we can be more empathetic and understanding of others behaviors and attitudes.

Dopamine is an excitatory transmitter that strongly effects emotions and memory and auditory. Low levels are related to Parkinson’s and high levels are related to schizophrenia.

Etiology (Cause)

The cause of mood disorders is unknown but is related to hormones, family history, the immune system, substance use, developmental factors. It is also related to a deficiency of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

Risk Factors

Women tend to have higher hormone levels and are therefore at a higher risk of developing a mood disorder than men. Children and teens are at high risk as well due to bullying, hormones, and stress. The elderly are at high risk because they are often isolated, lonely, and abused. The Elderly often don’t get many visitors, and their family and friends have passed away.

Some medications can lead to mental illness as an adverse effect. Individuals living with other illnesses (co-morbidities) are likely to develop the depressive disorder as well.

Other risk factors include; substance use, lack of social support, economic struggles, and stress.

Once an individual has a depressive episode they are at high risk for developing more episodes throughout their lifetime. Individuals who have family members with a history of mood disorders are at higher risk of becoming ill.

Unipolar Disorders

Unipolar disorder means one type of disorder. This can be either major depression or dysthymic disorder. Unipolar depression is solely focused on the lows or the negative emotions and symptoms experienced. This is characterized by severe and debilitating depressive episodes of clinical depressions or major depression.

There is a major distinction between a person who is going through a rough patch and is unhappy versus a person that is clinically depressed.

Major depressive disorder (depression) involves at least 2 weeks of a continuously sad mood. The individual must experience 4-7 symptoms of depression to be diagnosed.

Symptoms include; change in appetite, anhedonia (inability to enjoy), change in concentration, feelings of worthlessness, recurrent thoughts of death, disruption in sleep, and psychomotor agitation (restlessness).

Dysthymic disorder is a milder but more chronic form of depressive disorder. It is between a blue mood and major depressive disorder. The dysthymic disorder presents as a depressive mood mostly every day for at least 2 years.

Symptoms include; low energy, sadness, feeling of emptiness, low self-esteem, changes in concentration, feelings of hopelessness, guilt, and worries.

These individuals commonly suffer from self-care deficit and disturbed sleep patterns. Try developing routines and schedules. Reward self-care. Exercise, implement a healthy diet and try not to take naps during the day if you are having difficulty sleeping.


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The most effective treatment is psychotherapy (talking) and antidepressant medication.

Antidepressants may be administered which the goal of symptom reduction or remission. The objective is to choose the right medication and dosage for each patient. Never stop taking the medication abruptly! This can cause withdrawal and depressive symptoms.

Light therapy (phototherapy) can be used for people with seasonal depression. Light therapy is an artificial light source that is used 30 minutes a day. Should see effects 1-4days.

ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) is used when medication is not working. It is used if experiencing schizophrenic activity. After this is complete the person needs to be reorientated to a person place and time. The person may experience confusion and memory loss. This is not done if the person has increased cranial pressure (trauma) to head.

Antidepressant Medication

antidepressant medication for mood disorders

MAOIs are antidepressants that are the last line of defense. They work by inactivating norepinephrine (plays a role in mood states and flight or fight response), serotonin, and dopamine (influences emotions, memory, and auditory), therefore increasing mood. Do not take with substances containing tyramine (aged cheese, beer, red wine, pickles, chocolate) because it causes a hypertensive crisis.

TCAs are the second line of treatment for antidepressant medications. Always check plasma blood levels due to the increased risk for toxicity from this medication. TCAS may cause suicidal thoughts, hypotension, arrhythmias, check vitals before administration. This medication should not be given to the elderly for these heart-related reasons.

SSRI is the first line of treatment in relation to antidepressants. It works by blocking the uptake of serotonin. serotonin is responsible for emotion, sleep, appetite, and sexual behavior.


Antidepressants need to be taken consistently at the same time every day. It may take 3-4 months for the medication to be most effective. In 2-3 weeks individuals may notice a difference.

Anticholinergic side effects are blurred vision, urinary retention, dry mouth, and constipation.

Serotonin syndrome occurs when medications cause levels to get to high in your body. Signs and Symptoms include dilated pupils, shivering, twitching of muscles, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, agitation, confusion, and diarrhea.

Bipolar Disorders

woman with mood disorder hold up a piece of cardboard in front of her face with a smile on it

Bipolar disorder means two disorders. This mood disorder switches between up and down moods. This mental health condition causes a quick shift from feeling high, full of energy to feeling sad, down, and hopeless. There are a high pole and a low pole in bipolar.

Mania is overactivity, an elevated or irritable mood. Manic is characterized by euphoria, a flight of ideas, and pressured speech.

Bipolar 1 is the most extreme causing impairment in social, occupational, and interpersonal functioning. This includes one or more manic episodes with a major depressive occurrence. Psychotic symptoms are present.

Bipolar 2 is less extreme which does not cause impairment in social, interpersonal, or occupational functioning. This includes one episode of hypomania accompanying major depression. No psychotic symptoms are present.

Men and women are equally effected and affects 1-3 % of the population. The mean age of onset is 21-30 years of age. Females are more prone to depression whereas males are prone to manic episodes.

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