Last updated:

November 4, 2022


 min read

Mood disorders: Definition, types, treatments

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Written by
Ipsa Khurana

What are Mood Disorders?

Mood disorders, also known as affective disorders, are a group of psychological disorders that primarily affect a person's emotions. They can cause serious, drastic changes in your mood, negatively impacting your personal, professional, and social lives. 

For people with mood disorders (especially untreated), everyday tasks like doing the dishes, finishing a project and work, or showing up for a dinner with their partner can be extremely challenging. But the good part is that help is readily available! If you are suffering from a mood disorder, find a therapist online who can help you manage your symptoms.

The umbrella of mood disorders include various mental health conditions. Read on to learn more about what these are!

Types of Mood Disorders

Affective disorders are mainly of two types: (a) bipolar disorder and (b) depression. While their symptoms vary from person to person, a broad diagnostic criteria exists.


Depression, also known as major depressive disorder (MDD) or clinical depression, is a mood disorder. It is characterised by a constant low mood and general hopelessness toward life. Feeling unmotivated or perpetually sad for a stretch of at least two weeks can also indicate clinical depression. If you are depressed, you are also likely to lose interest in most activities (including your favourite ones).

Depressive disorders can be chronic, like persistent depressive disorder (PDD) or seasonal, like seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Bipolar Disorder

Formerly known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is characterised by massive and extreme shifts in mood. It drastically impacts the energy levels and behaviour of a person. People who have bipolar disorders experience manic and hypomanic episodes, as well as depressive episodes alternatingly. These episodes can last for hours, days, weeks or even months. Bipolar disorders include:

  • Bipolar I disorder involves manic episodes. At least one manic episode in life or a week or more without depressive episodes qualifies as Bipolar I. 
  • Bipolar II disorder features hypomanic episodes, which are less severe and do not disrupt functioning in daily life much. 
  • Cyclothymia or Cyclothymic Disorder includes cycles of hypomania and depressive episodes - with no distinctive timelines for each - for two years.

Diagnosing these disorders can sometimes be tricky because people with bipolar disorder do not always experience manic or depressive episodes. They also experience a normal mood called euthymia. 

The symptoms of mood disorders vary among the type of affective disorder as well as from person to person. Let's take a closer look at some of these symptoms. 

What are Some Symptoms of Mood Disorders?

Understanding how depressive and manic episodes look can help you identify some of the symptoms of mood disorders. People with bipolar disorders can exhibit both episodes, while the ones with clinical depression only experience the former.


  • Fast, incoherent speech 
  • Feeling overjoyed or highly energetic
  • Having an inflated sense of self worth
  • Hallucinations, delusions, or illogical thinking 
  • Feeling functional without sleeping or eating 
  • Easily distracted, irritated, or agitated
  • Risky and impulsive behaviour
  • Poor judgement (usually causes by impulsivity)

Depressive episode

  • Constant exhaustion
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Drastic changes in appetite
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Frequent thoughts of self-harm
  • Feelings of extreme sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Slow thinking or movement 
  • Unexplained back aches, headaches, and sore muscles

What Causes Mood Disorders?

The causes of mood disorders cannot be attributed to a single trigger. There can be several factors in play, such as:

  • Genetics: A family history of mood disorder puts you at a higher risk of having one.
  • Life experiences: Certain life events - like past trauma or substance abuse - can also lead to affective disorders. 
  • Neurotransmitters: Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry impulses to your nervous system. They carry messages from the brain and are responsible for your emotional responses. Mood disorders have been linked to the lack/dysfunctionality of certain happiness-inducing neurotransmitters (like serotonin).

Can Mood Disorders be Treated?

We understand that living with an affective disorder can be difficult. However, being diagnosed with mood disorders can help make the condition easier to live with. A combination of psychotherapy, mood stabilisers, and antidepressant medication (such as SSRIs) can help with mood disorders. Certain lifestyle changes, like including some physical activity in your daily routine, or journaling for ten minutes everyday, can also help. 

But these should always be accompanied by professional medical advice. You can start by seeing a therapist. You can also see a psychiatrist if you want medications to make the disorder manageable. The experts on our team offer you a safe, empathetic, and non-judgmental space and help develop a treatment plan that suits your needs.

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