Mood disorders are emotional disturbances consisting of prolonged periods of excessive sadness, excessive elevated mood, or both. Mood disorders can occur in adults, adolescents, or children (see Depressive Disorders in Children and Adolescents Depressive Disorders in Children and Adolescents Depressive disorders are characterized by sadness or irritability that is severe or persistent enough to interfere with functioning or cause considerable distress. Diagnosis is by clinical criteria... read more and Bipolar Disorder in Children and Adolescents Bipolar Disorder in Children and Adolescents Bipolar disorder is characterized by alternating periods of mania, depression, and normal mood, each lasting for weeks to months at a time. Diagnosis is based on clinical criteria. Treatment... read more ).
Mood disorders are categorized as
Anxiety and related disorders Overview of Anxiety Disorders Anxiety disorders are characterized by persistent and excessive fear and anxiety and the dysfunctional behavioral changes a patient may use to mitigate these feelings. Anxiety disorders are... read more are not classified as mood disorders, but they often precede them or coexist with them.
Sadness and joy (elation) are part of everyday life. Sadness is a universal response to defeat, disappointment, and other discouraging situations. Joy is a universal response to success, achievement, and other encouraging situations.
Grief, a form of sadness, is considered a normal emotional response to a loss. Bereavement refers specifically to the emotional response to the death of a loved one. However, in some cases the response to loss is more persistent and disabling and includes symptoms that overlap somewhat with those of posttraumatic stress disorder Symptoms and Signs Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disabling disorder that develops after exposure to a traumatic event. It is characterized by intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks; avoidance... read more (PTSD) and major depressive disorder Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disabling disorder that develops after exposure to a traumatic event. It is characterized by intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks; avoidance... read more and last for more than 12 months, thereby fulfilling the criteria for prolonged grief disorder Prolonged grief disorder Depressive disorders are characterized by sadness severe enough or persistent enough to interfere with function and often by decreased interest or pleasure in activities. Exact cause is unknown... read more (1 General references Mood disorders are emotional disturbances consisting of prolonged periods of excessive sadness, excessive elevated mood, or both. Mood disorders can occur in adults, adolescents, or children... read more ).
A mood disorder is diagnosed when sadness or elation is
Overly intense and persistent
Accompanied by other mood disorder symptoms that meet criteria for a disorder
Significantly impairs the person's capacity to function
In such cases, intense sadness is termed depression, and intense elation is termed mania Mania Bipolar disorders are characterized by alternating episodes of mania and depression, although many patients have a predominance of one or the other. Exact cause is unknown, but heredity, changes... read more . Depressive disorders are characterized by depression; bipolar disorders are characterized by varying combinations of depression and mania.
Suicide in mood disorders
Suicide Suicidal Behavior Suicide is death caused by an act of self-harm that is intended to be lethal. Suicidal behavior encompasses a spectrum of behavior from suicide attempt and preparatory behaviors to completed... read more is a significant risk in people with major depressive disorder. Lifetime risk of suicide for people with a depressive disorder is 3 to 6% (2 General references Mood disorders are emotional disturbances consisting of prolonged periods of excessive sadness, excessive elevated mood, or both. Mood disorders can occur in adults, adolescents, or children... read more ), depending on severity of their depression. Risk is further increased in the following cases:
At the start of treatment, when psychomotor activity is returning to normal but mood is still dark
At personally significant anniversaries
By alcohol Alcohol Use Disorder and Rehabilitation Alcohol use disorder involves a pattern of alcohol use that typically includes craving and manifestations of tolerance and/or withdrawal along with adverse psychosocial consequences. Alcoholism... read more and substance use Substance Use Disorders Substance use disorders involve a pathologic pattern of behaviors in which patients continue to use a substance despite experiencing significant problems related to its use. Diagnosis of substance... read more
In the weeks to months after a suicide attempt, particularly one using a violent method
Other complications of mood disorders
Other complications of mood disorders include
Disability ranging from mild to complete inability to function, maintain social interaction, and participate in routine activities
Impaired food intake
1. Prigerson HG, Boelen PA, Xu J: Validation of the new DSM-5-TR criteria for prolonged grief disorder and the PG-13-Revised (PG-13-R) scale. World Psychiatry 20(1):96-106, 2021. doi: 10.1002/wps.20823
2. Nierenberg AA, Gray SM, Grandin LD: Mood disorders and suicide. J Clin Psychiatry 62 Suppl 25:27-30, 2001. PMID: 11765092