What are mood disorders?
Mood disorders may include a wide array of mood issues, such as major depression disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder. Although there may be many factors involved, it’s thought that chemical imbalances in the brain cause mood disorders. These imbalances may be genetic or run in families, or may be caused by stressful life events or overwhelming emotional or physical distress.
Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression, and having a brother, sister, or parent that has depression or bipolar will increase someone’s risk for developing mood disorder symptoms when exposed to the normal stresses of life (job loss, death of a loved one, financial stress, divorce, etc).
Left untreated, symptoms from mood disorders such as major depression disorder and bipolar disorder may worsen or lead to other problems such as anxiety, strained interpersonal relationships, decreased work or school performance, eating disorders, and even drug or alcohol abuse.
What are the symptoms of a mood disorder?
Major Depression- A person diagnosed with Major Depression Disorder experiences two or more weeks of sadness, hopelessness or irritability, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, poor concentration, physical pain, feelings of guilt or shame, decreased social interest, decreased enjoyment in activities, and even crying spells or thoughts of death or suicide. Those with depression also experience changes in sleep patterns, such as sleeping too much, having insomnia, or maybe just experiencing restless sleep. Changes in appetite are also typical of depressed individuals, as many people who experience depression have little to no appetite or overeat as a way to cope with their sadness and hopelessness.
Bipolar Disorder- Those with Bipolar Disorder experience dramatic and unpredictable mood swings that include episodes of both depression and mania. Symptoms of mania include excessive happiness, excitement, irritability, restlessness, rapid or increased talkativeness, increased energy, decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, distractibility, increased periods of productivity, inflated self-esteem, impulsive or reckless behaviors, and increased sex drive or risk-taking behaviors.
Occasionally, severe depression or manic episodes can cause psychotic symptoms that are characterized by detachment from reality or confusion. This can cause a person to develop false but strongly held beliefs (delusions) and hearing or seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations).
What is treatment for mood disorders like?
Research shows that those experiencing symptoms of a mood disorder benefit from a combination of both medication and psychotherapy. However, this does not mean that everyone needs to take medication to improve their symptoms. Although we can discuss this further in our sessions, you will be able to see improvement in your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviors if you take an active role in the therapy process.
I use a combination of cognitive, experiential, humanistic, and psycho-dynamic therapies to get to the core issue of what is causing and perpetuating your symptoms, and you will need to be an active participant in this process. I also utilize EMDR or Rapid Resolution Therapy to clear the effects of certain traumatic incidents that may be at the root cause of your depression, and those treatment effects are further enhanced by some of the somatic methods I’ve learned in Somatic Experiencing. I also like to incorporate hypnosis and mindfulness exercises to intensify results and move the process along quicker, but this is not required or mandatory to achieve positive results.
The best therapy for mood disorders helps a client learn about their triggers and what has been successful for them in the past, while also building up their coping skills, self-confidence, and resilience to future stressful situations. If there are specific incidents from the past that are keeping a person stuck, we will utilize EMDR to process those, while also exploring problematic ways of thinking and behaving that have led you to feel stuck or hopeless. Lastly, comprehensive therapy will provide you with a set of techniques and skills that will allow you to enjoy your life again and continue to build on your progress.
Our work together will enable you to identify and break through the barriers that have been holding you back so you can finally live your best life. The goal of therapy is to not only decrease or eliminate symptoms, but also to empower you to take better care of yourself. I want you to be able to walk away from the therapy process feeling strong, confident, and ready to put your best foot forward in your family life, your job, your marriage, or whatever else you value as important.