Mood disorders can truly affect people’s lives. Sadly, many people don’t understand mood disorders and therefore can’t understand why people can’t just “snap out” of their bad moods. However, mood disorders are more than the occasional blues. The definition of mood disorders is: “psychological disorders characterized by emotional extremes”. It can come in forms such as major depressive disorder which is a prolonged depression and hopelessness; or as bipolar or manic-depressive disorder which is where a person is more likely to alternate between depression and a sort of mania or an overexcited and hyperactive state.
There are many things that can cause depression and not all depression is long lasting. In fact there is a type of depression known as SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, in which people feel a lack of hope during certain seasons (mainly darker and colder seasons). There are many different things that are believed to cause this.
Believe it or not about 13% of U.S adults have experienced some kind of depressive disorder. According to WHO, in 2002 depression was the leading cause of disability. Depression makes everyday tasks impossible.
Temporary depression happens to all of us. However if you show at least five signs of depression for more than two weeks that have nothing to do with a medical condition or drug abuse, then you have major depressive disorder. Here are some of the signs of depression: lethargy, feelings of worthlessness, loss of interest in things that used to make you happy, loss of interest in family and friends.
What about Bipolar Disorder? Think mood swings. People with bipolar disorder will go through stages of mania where they are typically over talkative, overactive, very excited (however can be very easily irritated), they need very little sleep, and have few sexual inhibitions. They may speak very loudly and be difficult to interrupt. However, in milder forms this mania’s energy and free-flowing thinking can fuel creativity. However, what goes up must come down. Before long the persons manic phase crashes and they can plunge into a deep depression.
That is just the beginning of the phenomenon of depression. Not enough people understand this disorder and therefore it can be difficult to diagnose. If you or someone you know has any of the prolonged symptoms, get help. Depression can be very difficult to live with and we should take every step possible in order to better understand the disease as well as fight it!
Myers, G. David (2009) Exploring Psychology (8th Ed.) New York, NY: Worth Publishers