What Is Mood Disorder? What You Need To Know

Keegan Warrington
December 20, 2021

TRIGGER WARNING: This article mentions potentially triggering words or situations.

Based on diagnostic interview data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, an estimated 21.4% of U.S. adults experience mood disorders at some point in their lives. Additionally, around 45% of these mood disorders will be considered serious impairments. In this blog post, we will give you a run-down of what you need to know about mood disorders and the treatment approaches available.  

What is Mood Disorder?

Our mood is the overall tone of our internal feelings, which impacts our behavior in the outside world. With this in mind, what is a mood disorder? This term refers to a category of conditions that negatively affect a person’s disposition. It is characterized by marked disruptions in a person’s emotions, resulting in impairment or difficulty in day-to-day functions like maintaining work, going to school, and even keeping relationships.

This category includes the following mental illnesses:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cyclothymia
  • Hypomania
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (in children)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Mood disorders caused by underlying health conditions and drug use

Studies have shown that these disorders often lead to an increase in morbidity and mortality; however, various approaches are available in addressing them. Therapy, medication, and support systems make living a full life possible for patients with mood disorders.

Mood Disorder Causes And Risk Factors

Like any mental illness, there are a lot of factors that come into play when it comes to mood disorders. One common perspective is the imbalance of chemicals in the brain. On the other hand, stressful events can also trigger or contribute to the development of these mental illnesses. There is no one main culprit for mood disorders, but below are some of the most common factors.

  • Biological Factors: Biological factors include neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are shown to decrease in people with mood disorders. This category also includes medical conditions that often lead to mood disorders like terminal illnesses (cancers and tumors) and chronic illnesses (multiple sclerosis, AIDS. Other conditions are
  1. Syphilis
  2. Encephalitis
  3. Influenza
  4. Hypothyroidism
  5. Metabolic changes relate to hemodialysis

Biological factors also include individual responses to certain drugs and medications used to treat above said medical conditions, as well as amphetamines, cocaine, and steroids.

  • Genetic Factors: Research found out that there are specific genes that cause mood disorders. More than this, family and adoption studies have indicated that mood disorders can be ‘inherited.’ People who have a family history of mood disorders are more at risk of developing disorders themselves. Studies also show that parental mood disorder is pivotal in mood disorders in their children.
  • Psychosocial Factors: As mentioned, traumatic events like abuse, serious accidents, and family tragedies, are considered major risk factors in developing mood disorders. Additionally, some personality traits and personality disorders are often associated with mood disorders, like borderline personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Mood disorders cut across age, gender, and socioeconomic status. However, their prevalence can be observed in children and adolescents, with an estimated rate of 15%. As mentioned, children with parents or relatives with mood disorders are more likely to develop one. Women are also twice most likely to develop a mood disorder compared to men.

What Are Mood Disorder Symptoms?

Anyone can feel sad or depressed at times since upsetting events are always a part of life. However, mood disorders are harder to manage and more intense than the normal feelings of sorrow and dejection. How do you know if what you are feeling is within what is considered a healthy range of emotions? Below are the symptoms to watch out for in common mood disorders.


  • Constant feeling of sadness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in usual interests and hobbies
  • Change in weight
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia or oversleeping)
  • Lethargy or loss of energy
  • Poor perception of self-worth
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Bipolar Disorder

  • Feeling extremely happy or extreme high energy
  • Unusual rapid movements or speech
  • Restlessness, irritability, or agitation
  • Risk-taking behavior, such as spending too much money or driving recklessly
  • Unusual increase in activity or trying to do too many things at once
  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia or oversleeping)
  • Feeling jumpy or on edge for no apparent reason

Our experiences are unique and it follows that mood disorder symptoms will differ from person to person. Generally speaking, if you are experiencing seemingly perpetual sadness, sudden loss of interest in your favorite things or activities, and constant fluctuation between elation and despair, it may be best to seek professional help for evaluation.

Which Of The Following Is The Most Common Mood Disorder?

Based on prevalence, the most common type of mental disorder is a mood disorder. As discussed, some of the mood disorders are major depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. With this in mind, which of these is the most common mood disorder? Here’s a rundown on the statistics on mood disorders in the U.S.

  • Major depressive disorder is the most common among mood disorders. It is reported that approximately 16 million Americans have had at least one major depressive episode within the past year.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder affects around 10 million Americans, and women are four times more likely to develop S.A.D. than men.
  • At least 4.4% of US adults will experience bipolar disorder sometime in their life.

A mood disorder can cause individuals to socially withdraw and hide their true feelings from people close to them, so getting an assessment will be helpful in getting the right treatment and starting the recovery process. In the next section, we’ll give you a run-down of the treatments available to address mood disorders.

What Are Mood Disorder Treatments?

Mood disorders can be successfully treated by managing symptoms and correcting imbalances. This helps patients function in their day-to-day living, as well as improve their quality of life. Mood disorder treatment involves a rehabilitation plan to address you or a loved one’s specific needs, and this may include the following:

Psychological Therapy

Psychological therapy or talk therapy allows people an opportunity to talk about their thought patterns, feelings, and behaviors to cope with the symptoms of their mood disorders. Common therapies are:

  • Behavioral Therapy: These are dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and motivational interviewing (MI), and they aim to modify behavior, emotions, and attitudes related to your mental health disorder.
  • Group Therapy: This method is facilitated by a mental health professional. It lays out a space for patients to relate to others who are struggling with the same issues and provides the chance for patients to help one another and build nurturing relationships.
  • Support Groups. This method sees the community as part of the recovery process. Some of these are mutual help groups (12-step programs), recovery high schools, and peer recovery support.


Patients with more serious mental illness often need medications to regulate imbalances in hormones and emotions. Medications often utilized are:

  • Mood stabilizers (for patients with bipolar disorder)
  • Antidepressants (for patients with any form of depression)

IMPORTANT NOTE: Medications should be administered with care and monitored by trained professionals, especially for prescription drugs.

If you are looking for services for you or a loved one’s mood disorder, we at Roots TMS are here to help. We offer cutting-edge treatments like Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS, a psychiatric breakthrough in treating depression and other mood disorders while providing the highest level of safety and support to our patients. Our treatment team is here to help guide you on your journey to recovery and wellness. Come visit us at 3939 Atlantic Ave, Suite 102 Long Beach, CA 90807, or call (866) 766-8776 for immediate assistance.

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Keegan Warrington