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Mood Disorders

Most of us have an immediate and intuitive understanding of the notion of mood. We readily comprehend what it means to feel sad or happy. These concepts are nonetheless very difficult to formulate in a scientifically precise and quantifiable way; the challenge is greater given the cultural differences that are associated with the expression of mood. Nevertheless, dysregulation of mood and the expression of mood, or affect, represent a major category among mental disorders.

Disturbances of mood characteristically manifest themselves as a sustained feeling of sadness or sustained elevation of mood. As with anxiety and psychosis, disturbances of mood may occur in a variety of patterns associated with different mental disorders. The disorder most closely associated with persistent sadness is major depression, while that associated with sustained elevation or fluctuation of mood is bipolar disorder. Along with the prevailing feelings of sadness or elation, disorders of mood are associated with a host of related symptoms that include disturbances in appetite, sleep patterns, energy level, concentration, and memory.

Common signs of mood disorders

Symptoms commonly associated with depression

  • Persistent sadness or despair
  • Insomnia (sometimes hypersomnia)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Psychomotor retardation
  • Anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure)
  • Irritability
  • Apathy, poor motivation, social withdrawal
  • Hopelessness
  • Poor self-esteem, feelings of helplessness
  • Suicidal ideation

Symptoms commonly associated with mania

  • Persistently elevated or euphoric mood
  • Grandiosity (inappropriately high self-esteem)
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Decreased sleep
  • Racing thoughts and distractibility
  • Poor judgment and impaired impulse control
  • Rapid or pressured speech

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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