Mood Disorders

What Are Mood Disorders?

Depression and bipolar disorders are mental disorders, real physical illnesses that affect a person’s moods, thoughts, body, energy and emotions. Both disorders, especially bipolar disorder, tend to follow a cyclical course, meaning they have ups and downs.

  • Mood disorders are characterized by marked disturbances in emotional state, which cause physical symptoms and affect thinking, social relationships, and behavior.
  • Mood disorders may be unipolar or bipolar.
  • People with dysthymic disorder have depressed mood for at least two years.
  • Major depressive disorder involves at least one period with significant depressive symptoms.
  • Bipolar disorders involve at least one period with manic symptoms and usually depressive periods as well.
  • Biological influences on mood disorders include genes, the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin, and brain abnormalities.
  • There is a two-way relationship between negative thinking and depression.
  • Cognitive characteristics of depressed people include learned helplessness; a pessimistic worldview; hopelessness; a tendency to make internal, stable, global attributions; and a tendency to ruminate.
  • There is a two-way relationship between social support and depression.
  • Depression may be related to experiences of loss.
  • The onset and course of mood disorders may be influenced by stress.