How Can I Understand the Complexity of Mood Disorders?

An estimated 21.4% of people are affected by mood disorders at some point in their lives. There are various recognized mood disorders, all of which affect an individual’s emotions to an extreme level for extended periods. Attempting to navigate the ups and downs of the emotions within a mood disorder can be incredibly challenging. Understanding the basics of these disorders is an important step in grasping the true complexity of mood disorders.

How Many Mood Disorders Are There?

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines mood disorders as representing a “category of mental illnesses in which the underlying problem primarily affects a person’s persistent emotional state (their mood).” Given such broad criteria, it is difficult to put an exact figure on the number of mood disorders. However, the two most commonly recognized mood disorders are:

  • Depression and any subtypes
  • Bipolar disorder, including type I, type II, and other subtypes

Each mood disorder is unique in its own right. However, all mood disorders affect the individual’s emotions significantly.


Depression has many subtypes. However, it can be generally defined as a disorder that affects how you feel, think, and handle daily activities. These activities may include sleeping, eating, or working.

Depression is a common mental health disorder; an estimated 280 million people in the world face depression. Despite its prevalence, depression should be taken seriously. Regardless of the type, it is a treatable disorder.

Some of the most common types of depression include the following:

  • Major depression: Consistent depression symptoms that interfere with daily life
  • Dysthymia: Also referred to as persistent depressive disorder, it is a condition that typically lasts two or more years resulting in symptoms of depression
  • Perinatal depression: Occurs when a woman experiences major depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression)
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Depression that comes and goes with the seasons, generally starting in fall/winter and going away during spring and summer
  • Depression with symptoms of psychosis: A severe form of depression, including psychosis symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations
  • Substance-induced depression: A form of depression that is caused by medicine, substance abuse, toxin exposure, or other forms of treatment
  • Health condition-related depression: Depression triggered by an underlying health issue such as cancer or other chronic illness

Bipolar Disorder

There are three main types of bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive illness or manic depression. Any form of bipolar disorder is treatable. The three types include bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder.

While all types of bipolar disorder affect an individual’s mood and emotions, they differ in various ways:

  • Bipolar I: Symptoms of bipolar I interfere with an individual’s daily life. During manic episodes, they experience extreme elevations in mood and energy.
  • Bipolar II: These symptoms are shorter and less intense than that of bipolar I. The individual experiences elevated mood during hypomanic episodes.
  • Cyclothymic disorder: This is a rare disorder that causes emotional ups and downs that are not as extreme as those found in bipolar I or II.

The Effects of Mood Disorders

Mood disorders, when left untreated, can be very destructive to a person’s mental health. Given the nature of depression, when ignored, it can result in an even deeper state of depression, leading to other complications. Among these is an increased risk of substance abuse, excessive anger, or irritability. Depression can even lead to suicide.

There are also a number of physical health effects from mood disorders. These may include insomnia, weight changes, digestive issues, and more. It is imperative to seek treatment if you think you or a loved one may be struggling with a mood disorder.

Untreated mood disorders can also severely impact the co-workers, friends, and loved one’s around the individual. These disorders result in drastic mood changes. Those nearby can often also struggle with these effects. Close relationships can be harmed and are often lost due to the nature of an untreated mood disorder. Work-life and financial status are also at risk from the consistently-changing moods of the individual.

It can be challenging as a bystander to navigate another person’s mood when it is regularly and drastically adjusting. This difficulty causes stress and rifts within a relationship with the individual. Reaching out for help is key to finding balance in an individual’s mood disorder.

Mood Disorder Treatments

Seeking treatment as soon as signs and symptoms are noticed will help significantly in preventing mood disorders from progressing. The right facility with people who care is essential to successful treatment. There are three main treatment options available for mood disorders:

  1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): A common form of “talk therapy” in which the individual works one-on-one with a therapist.
  2. Interpersonal therapy: This therapy is a short-term program that focuses on the relationships in a person’s life and pairs well with CBT.
  3. Medication: Prescription medication can play an important and beneficial role in treating various types of mood disorders and often goes alongside CBT,

No matter what mood disorder you or your loved one may have, the important thing is that it is treatable. Living life in the dark while navigating mood changes can be stressful, but help is out there. You need only reach out your hand, and someone will be there to turn on the light.

We understand that mood disorders can be challenging to navigate and live comfortably with. Finding a happy balance does not have to be a complex or scary process. It takes courage to reach out, and we are proud of this step you have taken. You are not alone in this process; we want to help bring clarity and simplicity to your daily life. At Alter Behavioral Health, our mission is to help you achieve a life of happiness. Call us today at (866) 691-4386, and let us take the complexity out of your mood disorder so you can get back to enjoying life as it comes, the way you deserve.