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Overview of Mood Disorders

By

William Coryell

, MD, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

Last full review/revision Aug 2021| Content last modified Aug 2021
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Mood disorders are categorized as

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 recurring, intrusive recollections of an overwhelming traumatic event; recollections last > 1 month and begin within 6 months of the event. The pathophysiology... read more (PTSD) and major depressive disorder Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is recurring, intrusive recollections of an overwhelming traumatic event; recollections last > 1 month and begin within 6 months of the event. The pathophysiology... read more (MDD) and last for more than 12 months, thereby fulfilling the criteria for the recently described prolonged grief disorder (1 General reference Mood disorders are emotional disturbances consisting of prolonged periods of excessive sadness, excessive joyousness, or both. Mood disorders can occur in children and adolescents (see Depressive... read more ).

A mood disorder is diagnosed when sadness or elation is

  • Overly intense and persistent

  • Accompanied by a requisite number of other mood disorder symptoms

  • Significantly impairs the person's capacity to function

In such cases, intense sadness is termed depression, and intense elation is termed mania. Depressive disorders are characterized by depression; bipolar disorders are characterized by varying combinations of depression and mania.

Suicide in mood disorders

Lifetime risk of suicide Suicidal Behavior Suicide is death caused by an intentional act of self-harm that is designed to be lethal. Suicidal behavior encompasses a spectrum of behavior from suicide attempt and preparatory behaviors... read more for people with a depressive disorder is 2 to 15%, depending on severity of the disorder. Risk is further increased in the following cases:

Other complications of mood disorders

General reference

  • 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

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