Depression & mood

What is a mood disorder?

The experience of sadness, grief and conflict is common to most people. Our responses to these feelings and the underlying experiences is where we differ.

When feelings of sadness, tension, anger, loss of hope or indifference to the future become intense, people can become depressed, isolated and unsure of their choices. With low energy, sleep disruption, weight change and disturbed appetite, an individual’s pleasure in life can be lost and relationships can change.

Fluctuations in mood and unfamiliar physical states may make a significant impact on activity and relationships. We commonly refer to this as someone having a “low mood” or “being up and down”. There are many descriptions, but the experience is always personal and unique.

You may experience the onset of these feelings completely out of the blue, or these feelings may emerge with psychological or physical upheavals, like exams, travel, sickness and accidents, trauma, pregnancy or other transitions in life.

When these experiences continue to significantly interfere with our normal life, a state of mild depression can progress to what is professionally described as a Mood Disorder.

Most tend to first think of depression only when we talk about mood disorders, but this diagnostic category also describes bi-polar affective disorder, post-natal depression, seasonal affective disorder, dysthymic disorder and others.

Defining mood disorders

How does our mood become disordered? How does it relate to physical wellbeing and social relationships? Any sustained experience of an extreme emotional state or mood disorder will be confusing to recognise and difficult to respond to with understanding.

Mood disorder even as a description, will vary in each individual and it’s impact on normal functions, especially physical symptoms and social relationships.

Medical research explains biological, psychological and social factors to all contribute to mood disorders.

For example, and not limited to:

  • Biological factors
  • Neuroscience evidence, genetic vulnerability, resilience and temperament, injury and illness and substance use
  • Psychological factors
  • Attachment and upbringing, life stresses, traumas, losses
  • Social factors
  • Personal devaluation and bullying, marital, family and career transitions or job loss.

What are the signs and symptoms of mood disorders?

Some characteristic experiences of common mood disorder can be described as

Depressive disorders 

  • Feeling persistently depressed over many days to weeks
  • Negative thoughts and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in normal routines, and pleasurable activities – exercise, intimacy, work
  • Reduced concentration, indecisiveness
  • Feeling irritable, and agitated easily
  • Disturbed sleeping or eating
  • Associated misuse of substances
  • Questioning life’s purpose and reasons for living.

Bipolar affective or mood disorders

  • Fluctuating moods, lasting more than days to weeks
  • Euphoria, increased energy and motivation
  • Decreased inhibitions, increased impulsiveness, engaging in high risk activity
  • Increased self-esteem and confidence
  • Contrasting depressive states
  • Associated misuse of intoxicating substances.

External resources The New Zealand Mental Health Foundation website maintains up-to-date information about mood, depression and bi-polar disorders. You can read more here.

How we can help

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mood disorder, we are here to help. Our specialists can help you understand what’s going on and work with you to create a treatment pathway.

Understanding all of the possible reasons for a mood disorder allows us to discuss a range of lifestyle, psychological and medication treatments that may help.

If you are wanting some support and help with your mood, we have many incredible specialists who can offer you a range of therapeutic options and treatments.

Options of care that can help:

Courses and workshops

If you’re looking for an alternative to 1:1 personal therapy, we also offer courses and workshops to help you understand and manage your mood.

Mood focused courses and workshops:

What do I say to someone I care for who is experiencing mood disorder?

Do :

  • Listen how they’re feeling, acknowledge the real and difficult experiences
  • Be patient, know there is a way ahead
  • Encourage, express empathy
  • Stay calm, reassure them help is available when they decide to seek it out
  • Ask what you can do
  • Seek expert help if you feel they may act impulsively or harmfully

Don’t :  

  • Say “snap out of it”.. or .. “It’s all in your head”
  • Don’t argue, get angry or express your frustration – you may feel these things
  • Don’t leave them alone if you are worried they will act impulsively or harmfully.

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