Mood disorders are mental disorders characterized by disturbance in one’s mood. The mood disturbance may be severe and may include depression, mania, or hypomania, or any combination of these.
There is a certain type of mood disorder called bipolar disorder. It entails mood swings from elation to depression with no discernable external cause. A person having bipolar disorder experiences swings from depression to mania. In the manic phase of this disorder, the patient may show extreme, unwarranted excitement. They may also show poor judgment and recklessness and may be argumentative. A manic person may speak rapidly, have unrealistic ideas, and jump from subject to subject. They possibly cannot sit still for very long. These symptoms are major characteristics of bipolar disorder for a specific period of time lasting for a few months. Hospitalization can often be necessary to keep the person from harming themselves and others. The other side of the bipolar coin is the depressive episode. Bipolar depressed patients often sleep more than usual and are lethargic. This contrasts with those with major depression, who usually has trouble sleeping and is agitated. During bipolar depressive episodes, a patient may also show irritability and withdrawal.
What causes mood disorders is not well known. Our brain naturally produces chemicals called endorphins that elicits positive moods. Other chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters, regulate endorphins. Studies show that mood disorders are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Life events such as unwanted changes in life may also contribute to a depressed mood. Also, genetic factors could be a prospect in causing bipolar disorder. Since it is related to depression, a gene may be responsible for the occurrence of the disorder. And this gene may be triggered by the environment, such as serious life-changing events. Evidence suggests that environmental factors play an important role in the development and course of bipolar disorder, and that individual psychosocial variables may interact with genetic dispositions.
Moreover, some limited long-term studies indicate that children who later receive a diagnosis of bipolar disorder may show subtle early traits such as sub-threshold cyclical mood abnormalities, full major depressive episodes, and possibly ADHD with mood fluctuation. Hypersensitivity and irritability can also appear. There is some disagreement whether the experiences are chronic. An account of stimulant use in childhood is found in high numbers of bipolar patients and has been found to cause an earlier onset of bipolar disorder, worse clinical course, independent of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Bipolar disorder is often treated with mood stabilizer medications, and sometimes other psychiatric drugs. Psychotherapy also has a function, often when there has been some recovery of stability. In serious cases in which there is a threat of damage to oneself or others involuntary commitment may be used; these cases usually involve severe manic episodes with hazardous behavior.
Furthermore, because the pattern of highs and lows varies for each person, bipolar disorder is a complex disease to diagnose. For some people, mania or depression can last for weeks or months, even for years. For some, bipolar disorder takes the form of frequent and dramatic mood shifts.
According to Michael Aronson, MD, a clinical psychiatrist, there’s a whole spectrum of symptoms and mood changes that have been found in bipolar disorder. It’s not always dramatic mood swings. There are people who get along fine. The manic periods can be very, very productive. They think things are going great. The danger comes when the mania grows really worse. The change can be very dramatic, with catastrophic outcomes. People can get involved in reckless behavior, spend a lot of money, there may be sexual promiscuity, sexual risks. The depressed phases can be equally dangerous: A person may have frequent thoughts of suicide.