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 prevail, 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, all over the place..”. There are many descriptions, while the experience is always personal and very important to understand as a genuine.

You may experience the onset of these feelings with few, even no preceding events recognised. These feelings may also 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 and dysthymic disorder (and others). These terms are used to describe different experiences to assist research and treatments.

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 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 findings on mood disorders have led to bio-psycho-social explanations of health changes, and guides many approaches to recovering wellbeing –

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

How can Re-centre help me?

We can provide a full understanding of any mood disorder and help those who are ready to take the first steps towards a treatment pathway at Re-centre.

Understanding all possible bio-psycho-social factors in an individual’s past allows for a range of lifestyle, psychological and medication treatment recommendations . Medication choices can be discussed and considered before trialling, then reviewed together. A person’s physical health is pivotal in any assessment of their mind health, in collaboration with your GP or other medical specialists.

After engaging with a psychiatrist about your personal experience of mood disorder, further pathways of treatment may continue in Re-centre psychological therapies –

For example, and not limited to –


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 sympathy
  • 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 

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.

Who, at Re-centre, can help me with depression and mood?

Discover better mind health with Re-centre