Facts About Mood Disorders:


What are mood disorders?

Mood disorders are treatable medical conditions involving changes in mood, thought, energy and behavior. A person with bipolar disorder (manic depression), has moods that usually alternate between mania, or extremely “up” mood, and depression. A person with major (uni-polar) depression has periods of “down” mood.
Mood disorders have many symptoms, including:

Symptoms of depression:

  • Sad, empty, irritable or tearful mood most of the day, nearly every day
  • No interest in or pleasure from activities once enjoyed
  • Major changes in appetite or body weight
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Feelings of restlessness or being slowed down
  • Fatigue, exhaustion, lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of mania:

  • Feeling overly energetic, high, better than good, or unusually irritable for at least one week
  •  Very high self-esteem, feeling all-powerful
  • Decreased need for sleep without feeling tired
  • Talking more than usual, feeling pressure to keep talking
  • Racing thoughts, many ideas coming all at once
  • Distracted easily, thoughts or statements jumping topic-to-topic
  • Increase in goal-directed activity, restlessness
  • Excessive pursuit of pleasure (e.g., financial or sexual) without thought of consequences

Hypo-manic episode

Similar to a manic episode, but less severe. It is clearly different from a non-depressed mood with an obvious change in behavior that is unusual or out-of-character.

Mixed state (also called mixed mania):

A period during which symptoms of a manic and a depressive episode are present at the same time.


Is a prolonged moderate state of depressed mood, symptoms include poor appetite or overeating, insomnia or over sleeping, low energy or fatigue, low self-esteem, poor concentration or difficulty making decisions and feelings of hopelessness. 

Rapid cycling:

occurs when a person has four or more manic, hypomanic, mixed or depressive episodes within a 12-month period. For many people, rapid cycling is temporary.

What is the difference between a mood disorder and ordinary mood swings?

  • Intensity: Mood swings that come with a mood disorder are usually more severe than ordinary mood swings.
  • Length: A bad mood is usually gone in a few days, but mania or depression can last weeks or months.
  • Interference with life: The extremes  can cause serious problems. For example,  depression can make a person unable to get out of bed or go to work, while mania can cause a person to go for days without sleep or spend money he or she does not have.




Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
730 N. Franklin Street, Suite 501 Toll-free: (800) 826-3632
Chicago, Illinois 60654-7225 Fax: (312) 642-7243


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