Mood changes can happen for a number of reasons and can be a normal, healthy aspect of life. However, sometimes our mood change can last for an extended period or change between two distinct moods. When our mood changes, whether we feel depressed or euphoric, it can impact on our functioning in everyday life, including our school/work life, our relationships with friends and family, and our general drive/motivation. Mood disorders occur when our mood change impacts significantly on our functioning.
Major Depressive Disorder
One of the main features of Major Depressive Disorder is a depressed mood or loss of interest in activities an individual once enjoyed, which has occurred for at least two weeks. Major Depressive Disorder may be precipitated by multiple factors including biology, stress, interpersonal situations, loss, a sense of failure, and so on.
The most common symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder include:
A depressed mood
Feeling as though you have lost interest and/or pleasure in things you once enjoyed
A change in appetite
A change in sleep patterns (i.e. sleeping much more than usual or finding it quite difficult to sleep)
A loss of energy
A change in thought patterns about oneself including feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and hopelessness
A decrease in an individual’s ability to concentrate including feeling foggy or indecisive
At times, an individual may experience thoughts of suicide
Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)
Persistent Depressive Disorder is characterised by the same symptoms as Major Depressive Disorder; however, the symptoms are pervasive and chronic, often lasting a period of two years or more.
Major Depressive Disorder and Persistent Depressive Disorder, or symptoms of either, can significantly effect a person’s quality of life.
The most evidence-based therapeutic intervention for symptoms of depression is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Generally, the first session or two at The Mind Body Practice will be centred around education on depressive symptoms, as well as beginning small behavioural activation tasks to help increase motivation and energy. Following the behavioural activation tasks, your psychologist will delve deeper into any thoughts associated with the depressive symptoms with the aim to begin shifting and challenging those thoughts.
Bipolar Disorder (I and II)
Bipolar Disorder has been widely used as a colloquial term for “mood swings”, however Bipolar Disorder is a much more than an individual who changes between moods.
Bipolar Disorder I is characterised by both the above Major Depressive Disorder symptoms, as well as experiences of mania or hypomania. Often individuals experiencing Bipolar I will experience manic or hypomanic symptoms for a distinct period of at least 1 week. Following the manic or hypomanic episode, an individual may then experience symptoms of a major depressive episode, often lasting for at least two consecutive weeks following the manic or hypomanic episode.
Bipolar II is similar, however an individual may experience a longer major depressive episode, as well as hypomanic symptoms rather than manic symptoms, which they have noticed over a period of at least 4 days rather than 1 week.
Mania describes an elevated, euphoric, driven and/or irritable mood state, which is noted in irritability, a decreased need for sleep, increased sexual drive, very large ideas and the creation of plans for those ideas, rapid flow of speech, and a decrease in judgement around aspects of life including social, occupational, and financial decision making. Most individuals presenting with manic symptoms will experience hospitalisation due to a detachment of reality.
Hypomania is the term given to the more moderate form of mania and can often be managed without hospitalisation as the individual remains in contact with reality. However, it is very easy to move rapidly from hypomania into a manic episode.
Cyclothymic disorder is a Bipolar-related disorder, with individuals experiencing hypomania and major depressive episodes, however not as frequently (i.e. less than 4 days for hypomania and less than 2 weeks for major depressive episode) as those experiencing Bipolar I or II. Cyclothymic disorder will often impact a person’s life regardless of the frequency of the mood changes.
For Bipolar and Cyclothymic Disorder, it’s important to begin to understand the cycle of the symptoms. Both cognitive therapy (i.e. working with a psychologist) and pharmacology (i.e. working with a psychiatrist and your GP) are important intervention options when considering treatment. The psychologists at The Mind Body Practice can help develop a treatment plan with you and begin to engage in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, as well as liaise with your local GP. Anxiety can affect any person at any stage of their life and is a normal human experience. Anxiety is characterised by excessive fear and worry, generally impacting on an individual’s functioning.