Depression, Bipolar Disorder & Other Mood Disorders


What is a Mood Disorder?

A mood disorder is a chronic pattern of abnormally high or low mood, or a combination of the two. Symptoms  of mood disorders can be caused by some common medical issues, such as hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, hormonal imbalance, iron deficiency, and vitamin D deficiency. Because of this biological component, a blood panel test is required to rule out physical causes of mood disorders.

Depression & Dysthymia

Many people have periods in their lives when they experience sadness and grief. Symptoms of depression, however, are more intense than sadness or grief, though both grief and sadness can develop into full-blown depression. Depression is a debilitating mood disorder that can make living feel unbearable. It can stem from a life event that the person has not been able to recover from (like death or trauma), or may be biologically rooted (brain chemistry issues or conditions such as hypothyroidism or iron deficiency), or a combination of both. Dysthymia is a milder version of depression. Both depression and dysthymia are more common in women and successful treatment requires an integrative approach – medications alone are insufficient. Treatment options are counseling (DBT is particularly helpful), medication, herbal remedies, mindfulness and relaxation skills, increasing social support, light therapy, and increase in aerobic exercise.

Bipolar Disorder & Cyclothymic Disorder

Those suffering from Bipolar disorder have both significant depression and manic symptoms. Mania is an extreme state of euphoria which often causes the individual to lose inhibitions and can wreak havoc in the person’s life. Individuals during manic stages might gamble away their life savings, become promiscuous, go on shopping sprees they cannot afford, etc. Bipolar Disorder almost always requires medication for mood stabilization.

Cyclothymic disorder is a bit like a mild bipolar disorder. The sufferer may have brief mood swings that move between mild or moderate depression and euphoria or excitement. These moods typically are of shorter duration that in bipolar disorder. Cyclothymic disorder often goes undiagnosed and untreated because those who suffer from Cyclothymia may just be considered moody.