LEARN ABOUT MOOD DISORDERS
Learn About Mood Disorders
While we need to rely on the love and support of others, it is our own individual responsibility that will help achieve wellness—that is, attaining the right information we need to make informed decisions and chart our own pathways to recovery.
The information found on this page will help you take those first steps. Here, you will find local healthcare providers and support groups, discover wellness tools to help you better communicate with your doctors, find innovative products and services, and learn about pending legislation that affects mental health funding.
Please use these resources as a starting point only. Finding a doctor or counselor who is right for you can take time. Be sure you find someone who you feel you can speak openly to, and never hesitate to get a second opinion.
Depression and bipolar disorder are both treatable medical illnesses. The following information will help you learn more about and understand each individual illness and its effects.
Everyone will feel sad at some point in his or her lifetime. Feeling sad on occasion is normal. So what’s the difference between feeling sad and being depressed?
While it’s normal for people to experience sadness throughout their life, those living with depression experience specific symptoms daily for two weeks or more, making it difficult to function.
Depression is a treatable illness marked by changes in mood, thought and behavior. It affects people of all ages, races, genders, ethnicities and social classes. At some point in their lives, 24% of women and 15% of men will experience an episode of major depression.
Depression is more intense than just sadness or a bad mood. It can last two weeks or longer and sometimes will make it difficult for people to get out of bed. Symptoms of depression may include the following:
- difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
- fatigue and decreased energy
- feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- insomnia or excessive sleeping
- loss of interest in activities or hobbies
- overeating or loss of appetite
- persistent aches or pains that do not ease with treatments
- thoughts or attempts of suicide
Also known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a treatable illness marked by extreme changes in mood, thought, energy and behavior. When suffering from bipolar disorder, a person’s mood can shift between the “poles” of mania (the “highs”) and depression (the “lows”). These changes in moods can last for hours, days, weeks or even months.
The highs and lows a person experiences are frequently seasonal. Many people with the disorder have reported feeling symptoms of depression more often in the winter and symptoms of mania more often in the spring.
Bipolar disorder affects all genders, races, ethnicities and social classes. It tends to run in families, and can start anywhere from early childhood to adulthood.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder are separated into mania and depression. Mania symptoms include:
- Increased physical and mental activity and energy
- Heightened mood, exaggerated optimism and self-confidence
- Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior
- Decreased need for sleep without fatigue
- Grandiose thoughts, inflated sense of self-importance
- Racing speech or thoughts
- Impulsiveness, poor judgment, distractibility
- Reckless behavior
- In severe cases, delusions and hallucinations
- Symptoms of depression include:
- Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
- Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
- Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
- Pessimism, indifference
- Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
- Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
- Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
Treatments are available for individuals suffering from depression or bipolar disorder. Therapy, medication or a combination of both help individuals feel better and positively change situations in their lives that may be contributing to their illness.