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The 5 Most Common Mood Disorders

In this article, we delve into the five most prevalent mood disorders, offering insight into their impact, prevalence, and avenues for healing.

  • Bipolar disorder: also called manic depression, it is characterized by alternating episodes of both mania and depression. During an episode of mania, a person feels extreme happiness, and presents with high energy levels. During an episode of depression, a person is in a very low mood and acts as if there is no hope for life.

  • Major depressive disorder: Major depressive disorder is characterized by a severe and prolonged low mood, intense sadness, irritability, or sense of dread. 

  • Dysthymia: is characterized by mild depression for an extended period, at least 2 years for adults and 1 year for adolescents and teenagers. Unlike major depressive disorder (MDD), in which a person has severe episodes that come and go, people with dysthymia experience mild episodes that last much longer.

  • Mood disorder related to another health condition: Changes in mood caused by depression may be a result of underlying health issues, such as cancer and HIV, or medications taken for a medical condition.

  • Substance-induced mood disorder: is an illness that develops when an individual suffers persistent depressive symptoms following substance use (such as an opioid), dosage reduction, or withdrawal.

Bipolar Disorder:

Bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.8% of adults in the United States each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). It is important to note that bipolar disorder can vary in severity and may have different subtypes, such as bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder.

Treatment for bipolar disorder typically involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Mood stabilizers, such as lithium and certain anticonvulsant medications, are commonly prescribed to help manage manic and depressive episodes. Antidepressants may also be used cautiously, often in combination with a mood stabilizer, to address depressive symptoms. Additionally, psychotherapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy, can help individuals learn coping skills, recognize early warning signs of mood episodes, and improve relationships.

Recovery from bipolar disorder is possible with proper treatment and support. It is essential for individuals with bipolar disorder to work closely with mental health professionals to develop a personalized treatment plan and to adhere to their medication regimen. Engaging in healthy lifestyle practices, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, exercising regularly, and avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs, can also support recovery.

Major Depressive Disorder:

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most common mental health disorders worldwide, affecting approximately 7.1% of adults in the United States each year, according to the NIMH. It can significantly impair functioning and quality of life, leading to difficulties in relationships, work, and daily activities.

Treatment for major depressive disorder often involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), are commonly prescribed to help alleviate depressive symptoms. Psychotherapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy, can also be effective in addressing negative thought patterns, improving coping skills, and addressing underlying issues contributing to depression.

Recovery from major depressive disorder may take time and persistence, but many individuals find relief with treatment. It is important for individuals with depression to seek support from mental health professionals, friends, and family members. Engaging in self-care activities, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and hobbies, can also aid in recovery.


Dysthymia, also known as persistent depressive disorder, is less common than major depressive disorder but still significant, affecting approximately 1.5% of adults in the United States each year, according to the NIMH. It is characterized by chronic low mood and other depressive symptoms that persist for at least two years in adults and one year in adolescents and teenagers.

Treatment for dysthymia typically involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy, similar to the treatment approach for major depressive disorder. Antidepressant medications, particularly SSRIs and SNRIs, may be prescribed to help alleviate symptoms. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help individuals develop coping strategies, challenge negative thought patterns, and improve self-esteem.

Recovery from dysthymia is possible with proper treatment and support. It is important for individuals with dysthymia to engage in self-care activities, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and seek support from mental health professionals and loved ones. Building a strong support network and learning effective coping skills can help individuals manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Mood Disorder Related to Another Health Condition:

Mood disorders related to other health conditions can occur in individuals with chronic illnesses or medical conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, neurological disorders, and hormonal imbalances. The prevalence of mood disorders related to other health conditions varies depending on the specific illness and individual factors.

Treatment for mood disorders related to other health conditions often involves addressing the underlying medical condition in addition to managing mood symptoms. This may include medication management, psychotherapy, and supportive interventions to help individuals cope with the emotional impact of their illness.

Recovery from mood disorders related to other health conditions may require a multidisciplinary approach, involving collaboration between mental health professionals, physicians, and other healthcare providers. It is important for individuals with these mood disorders to prioritize self-care, adhere to their medical treatment plan, and seek support from healthcare providers and support groups.

Substance-Induced Mood Disorder:

Substance-induced mood disorders can occur as a result of substance use, dosage reduction, or withdrawal from drugs or alcohol. The prevalence of substance-induced mood disorders varies depending on the type and frequency of substance use, as well as individual factors such as genetics and co-occurring mental health disorders.

Treatment for substance-induced mood disorders typically involves addressing both the substance use disorder and the mood symptoms. This may include detoxification, medication-assisted treatment, psychotherapy, and participation in support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

Recovery from substance-induced mood disorders requires comprehensive treatment that addresses both the substance use disorder and any underlying mental health issues. It is important for individuals to seek professional help for substance abuse and to engage in ongoing support to maintain sobriety and manage mood symptoms effectively.

In conclusion, while mood disorders can be challenging to manage, recovery is possible with proper treatment, support, and self-care. It is important for individuals experiencing mood disorders to seek help from mental health professionals, adhere to their treatment plan, and engage in healthy coping strategies. With time, persistence, and support, individuals can achieve improved mood, functioning, and overall well-being.


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