Mood Altering and Depression Disorders

Depression and mood disorders affect millions of people. They often go undiagnosed for years. Adults are now being diagnosed and treated in record numbers due to increased awareness and the removal of stigmas associated with these conditions.

Unfortunately, because children are often reluctant to speak about how they feel, mental health professionals believe that depression, bipolar and other mood disorders remain under-diagnosed in children and adolescents. If you believe that you, or you have a child with a mood disorder or depression, be assured that effective treatments are available that are providing relief to millions.

Categorizing Mood Disorders

These mental health problems include all types of depression as well as bipolar disorder. Other terms used are affective and mood affective disorders. Here are the most common types of mood disorder:

  • Major Depression: While everyone feels sad or down from time to time, major depression is deeper and lasts longer. The threshold for being diagnosed with this mood disorder is a deep and persistent feeling that lasts more than 2 weeks.
  • Bipolar Disorder: This is still commonly referred to as manic-depressive disorder. It is characterized by at least one depressed cycle and one elevated or manic cycle.
  • Dysthymic Disorder or Dysthymia: This is a chronic condition that is not as deep as major depression. To be classified as a mood disorder, the condition usually lasts 12 months or longer.
  • Medical Condition Mood Disorder: A person facing chronic illness might develop a mood disorder.
  • Substance or Medication Induced Mood Disorder: Constant use of prescription medication or illegal drugs can lead to alterations in brain chemistry and cause a depressive mood disorder.

The Causes of Mood Disorders

This is an area that continues to be the focus of research. Causes of depression and bipolar disorder are still not fully understood. It is believed that a chemical imbalance in the brain involving endorphins and neurotransmitters that regulate them are at the center of these mood disorders.

There is evidence, too, linking unwanted or stressful life changes and loss to depression as well. They may trigger an imbalance in brain chemistry or make one worse.

Genetic factors might also be involved since bipolar and mood disorders tend to be found in families, often over several generations.

The average age of diagnosis is the mid-20’s, though mood disorders can be present and undiagnosed in many younger people.

Common Symptoms of Mood Disorders

There are many symptoms of depression and bipolar and other mood disorders. These include:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Chronic low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy
  • Loss of desire to live
  • Chronic irritability or aggression
  • Relationship problems
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Excessive feelings of guilt
  • Low energy or feelings of lethargy
  • Sleep problems such as insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Thoughts of suicide or attempts
  • Isolation or running away

While many of these feelings come and go throughout the course of life, in a person with a mood disorder, they accumulate and are persistent.

Finding Help for Mood Disorders

The good news is that there is very effective treatments for mood disorders. People who suffer from them get better when they pursue treatment. The first step is to talk to your doctor. If you don’t have a doctor, your county’s health clinic or community mental health office are good places to turn.

Treatment of depression, bipolar and other mood disorders includes antidepressant medication and counseling. There are many medications that have worked very well, especially when combined with counseling that helps the patient to change distorted views of themselves and the world around them and to change their lifestyle and habits in order to reduce the stressors that contribute to their mood disorder.

The Cost of Treatment and the Place of Insurance

There is good news on this front too. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 passed by congress requires most health insurance plans to provide equal coverage for mental health conditions such as these at the same level they do for physical conditions. While not all policies have to comply, all medical insurance policies have some mental health coverage. Clinics and doctors are willing to work with each patient to find suitable ways of treating their mood disorders in a way that they can afford.

Therefore, if you have health insurance, it will provide some level of mental health coverage. Take a close look at your policy or call your insurance provider to get the details of the mental health coverage it provides. That will help you understand your options and then take the next step forward in getting the help you’ve been pursuing.