Mood Disorders

Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder is commonly known as "manic depression."  The disorder is subdivided into Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymia, and a few other types depending on the severity and type of mood episodes the person experiences.  Individuals with bipolar disorder experience episodes of abnormally elevated mood called a manic episode.  These episodes can consist of a decreased need for sleep, excessive energy, rapid speech, feeling like one's mind is racing.  Individuals can be irritable, engage in confrontations with others or become aggressive.  Individuals can demonstrate poor judgment and may engage in behaviors that appear out of character, such as spending sprees or risk taking behavior.  These can include risk taking behaviors can include substance use or risky sexual behavior.  A milder version of a manic episode is referred to as "hypomania."  During a depressive episode, an individual typically suffers from a change in mood (depressed, sad, anxious, empty); feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, pessimism;  loss of interest in pleasurable activities; decreased energy; changes in sleep and appetite; difficulty concentrating and remembering; feeling restless or irritable; physical complaints; and thoughts of suicide or death. 

Major Depression
Clinical depression (Major Depression) is a multifaceted disorder characterized by mood disturbance in combination with behavioral difficulties (social isolation, sleep and appetite disturbance) and cognitive dysfunction (poor concentration and memory).  Clinical depression goes beyond the normal reaction to negative life circumstances, such as divorce, illness or loss of a significant other. It is a mood disorder, which requires professional intervention.  To learn more about depression, click here.

Dysthymic Disorder
Dysthymia is a depressive disorder that is considered a more chronic less severe depression that major depression.  Individuals with dysthymia experience many of the same symptoms as an individual in a major depressive episode but to a lesser degree.  In order to be diagnosed with dysthymia, an individual must suffer from the symptoms for at least 2 years.  During the 2 year period, the symptoms cannnot be absent for more than 2 consecutive months.  Individuals with dysthymia can also experience a major depressive disorder, and this is commonly called a "double depression."