Dr. Eileen Callahan, Ph.D.: Mood Disorders

126529549_woman_portrait_greif_web.jpg (Small 210px)Mood Disorders

Moodiness is not to be confused with a mood disorder. Many outside factors (traffic, weather, etc.) can affect your daily mood, and human beings are supposed to feel a variety of moods, good and bad.

If your quality of life, as well as the quality of life of those around you, is being severely damaged, you may consider receiving evaluation by a professional to clarify your suspicions. There is no need to suffer for days, weeks, or months with a lost enjoyment of life. Early detection is key.

Some common mood disorders are described below.

Depression

Depression is much more than just sad feelings or "the blues." It is a serious medical ilness that causes persistent changes in a person's mood, behavior, and feelings. If not treated, the illness can last nine months to a year and may re-occur during a person's lifetime.

This illness interferes with and disrupts a person's job, school, and family life. No amount of cheering up can make it go away, and neither can "toughing it out." No amount of exercise, vitamins, vacation or prayer can make the clnical depression disappear. People with clinical depression need to get proper treatment, which usually includes medication and therapy.

What are the symptoms of depression?

There are ten symptoms that doctors look for when they examine their pareints for clinical depression. A doctor makes the diagnosis of clinical depression if a person has had five or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks:

Symptoms

  • Feelings of sadness or irritablility
  • Loss of interest in activites once enjoyed
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
  • Inability to concentrate, remember things or make decisions
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Restlessness or decreased activity noticed by others
  • Complaints of physical aches and pains for which no medical cause can be found
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

Is clinical depression the same for everyone?

No. Clinical depression differs greatly among people, both in its severity and how long it lasts. Some people suffer only one episode of clinical depression, while others experience recurring episodes. Also, people suffer from two basic types of cinical depression: Major depression, also called "unipolar" depression, symptoms described above. Manic depression, also called "bipolar" depression, is an illness that causes alternate cycles of depression and manic elation.

What causes clinical depression?

Clinical depresison results from complex interactions among brain chemicals and hormones that influence a person's energy level, feelings, eating habits, and sleeping. These chemical interactions are linked to  many complex causes: a person's family history with the illness, biochemical and psychological makeup, prolonged stress, and traumatic life crises such as death of a loved one, job loss, or divorce. Sometimes no identifiable cause triggers an episode of clinical depression; usually one or more stresses are involved. New medications are available that restore these brain chemicals to their proper balance and eliminate the symptoms of clinical depression.

This material is reprinted from The Link Counseling Center (www.thelink.org) with permission.


Bipolar Disorder

Also known as manic-depressive, this disorder presents symptoms of highs and lows. The high, the manic swing, can be extreme and disruptive. The lows, the depressive swing, is much more than just the “blues” and is a deep sadness that often cannot be recovered from without intervention. A milder form of Bipoler disorder is called cyclothymia, where the highs and lows aren't as severe, but do take place for several months. Bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose correctly, as people may seek help during their depression swing, leaving out the vital information of the mania that follows.


Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a crippling condition, and very difficult to diagnose. The symptoms vary, and can be easily mistaken as bipolar disorder or multiple personality disorder. A sufferer of schizophrenia is unable to maintain a normal lifestyle and can often find it impossible to even function.  Some of the common symptoms include hallucinating and have delusions. To the schizophrenic, the hallucinations are really happening. They may perceive someone is talking to them and giving them orders. The delusions, or imaginations, seem completely plausible. Constant, extreme paranoia is often the result of the delusions, and many believe they are being followed by a secret organization. This makes normal life, obviously, nearly impossible.


How does a person with a diagnosis get well?

Recovery from a disorder involves proper treatment, support and education. The most important steps to a person's recovery are to see a doctor, stick to a treatment plan of medication if prescribed and to keep all appointments with the doctor and therapist. Participating in an appropriate support group is also helpful during the recovery process, as is educating oneself about your diagnosis and the treatments available.

This site cannot be used to initiate emergency contact. We cannot respond on-line to crisis situations. If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

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