You may experience a range of emotions in your everyday life. But if you experience a low mood much of the time or alternate between extreme emotional highs and lows that can last for weeks or months, you might have a mood disorder. Here’s how to tell and how to get help.
Mood disorders are mental health conditions that affect how you think, feel and behave. One in five U.S. adults will experience a mood disorder at some time in their lives. Children and teens can also have mood disorders, just as adults do. Nearly one in 10 adolescents have a type of mood disorder, either currently or at some point in their lives.
Mood disorders aren’t just regular mood swings that last a few hours or days; they’re more intense and last longer. These disorders can make it hard to function at work or school, and during social activities with friends and family.
Types of Mood Disorders
People with mood disorders often experience long periods of low moods or alternate between extreme emotional highs and lows. However, not all mood disorders are the same. The most common types of mood disorders include:
- Major depression: This condition can cause you to feel sad or hopeless for weeks at a time.
- Dysthymia (chronic depression): Dysthymia is a long-term depression that lasts for at least two years.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): This form of depression occurs due to lack of light, usually during the late fall and winter months.
- Bipolar disorder: This condition causes extreme mood changes that alternate from manic episodes of high energy to lows of depression.
There’s no single cause of a mood disorder. Instead, several factors can contribute to a risk for mood disorders, such as family history, trauma, chronic health conditions and more.
Signs of a Mood Disorder
It’s normal to have an off day, especially if something happens to make you feel angry, sad or depressed. But if you find yourself “stuck” in a mood that feels out of your control, it may be a sign of a mood disorder. Here’s what to look for:
- Ongoing feelings of sadness
- Feeling hopeless or helpless
- Poor appetite or eating too much
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
- Low energy or fatigue
- Low self-esteem
- Losing interest in activities that were previously enjoyed
- Trouble sleeping
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
If you or someone you know is thinking about — or has attempted — suicide, immediately seek help from your doctor or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
How You Can Support Your Mental Health
So, how can you help yourself or others who have a mood disorder? Talk about it. It’s up to all of us to normalize conversations about mental health and break the stigma around it. When we create a more giving and emotional support system, we can empower those in need to get the care they need the most.
Get 24/7 Help for Mood Disorders
Mood disorders can affect anyone. If you or someone you know needs help, reach out for support. You are not alone. Help is available. With the right treatment and support, you can feel like yourself again and live a healthy and fulfilling life.