Mood disorders

We all experience changes in mood from time-to-time - it’s a normal part of life. But, when mood changes are intense, persistent, or frequent, they can impact our ability to function.

Mood disorders is a clinical term for a category of mental health conditions in the DSM 5, which is the manual therapists use for diagnosis. The mood disorder category includes the two subcategories of depressive and bipolar conditions, where the main area affected is a person’s emotional state.

If mood problems are impacting your daily life, it’s important to seek help from a qualified mental health professional. In most cases, mood disorders can be successfully managed with therapy and medication.

Types of mood disorders

There are two main categories of mood disorders in the DSM 5: bipolar disorder and depressive disorders.

Bipolar disorders: The category of bipolar disorders includes the following conditions:

Depressive disorders: Several different diagnoses fall under the depressive disorders category, including:

Prevalence of mood disorders

Mood disorders are relatively common, with an estimated 21.4% of U.S. adults likely to experience a mood disorder at some point during their lives (1).

Within the broad category of mood disorders, some diagnoses are more common than others. Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental health diagnoses in the U.S., with an estimated 16.9% of adults likely to have the experience at some point during their lives (2). On the other hand, bipolar disorders are less common; around 4.4% of U.S. adults experience this disorder during their lives (3).

Symptoms of mood disorders

Given the broad nature of the mood disorder category, symptoms for diagnosis can vary widely. See our depression and bipolar disorder explanations for additional, specific information about each of these diagnostic categories.

Some of the common symptoms characteristic of depressive and manic episodes are listed below. If you have been experiencing some of these, it’s important to seek an evaluation from a mental health professional:

Depressive episode

Manic episode

These disorders can be experienced so differently from person-to-person, so you won’t necessarily experience all these symptoms; diagnosis also entails assessing the length and persistence of these symptoms over time, as well.

The important thing is to ask for help if any symptoms are impacting your daily life. This is especially important if the symptoms have been present for most of the day, and nearly every day, for two weeks or more.

Treatment options for mood disorders

Mood disorders are often best managed through a combination of medication and psychotherapy. If you’re concerned that you might have a mood disorder, consider a combination of the following treatment options:

People experience mood disorders in such different ways, so it’s important to keep trying if you find that your first treatment attempt does not help. Many medications, therapy types and other options are available, so it might take a couple of tries before you find what works best for you.

Therapy for mood disorders

Psychological treatment is an important part of a mood management plan and there are many different types of therapy that can help. Consider the common approaches below and choose one that resonates with you. If you’re unsure, your prospective therapist is a great person to seek advice from.

What to look for in a therapist for mood disorders

There are several factors to keep in mind when selecting a therapist for help with mood disorders, including:

Find therapists specializing in mood disorders

Find therapists who specialize in mood disorders on Zencare. Search by insurance, fees, and location; watch therapist introductory videos; and book free initial calls to find the right therapist for you!

Sources and references