List of Mood Disorders

 Use our List of Mood Disorders as a handy guide in screening for critical symptoms to help clients going through these challenges.

By Gale Alagos on Apr 08, 2024.

Fact Checked by RJ Gumban.

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What is a mood disorder?

Mood disorders represent a category of mental health conditions characterized by significant and persistent disturbances in a person’s emotional state. These disturbances are specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as conditions that significantly impact an individual's daily functioning, affecting everything from personal relationships to job performance.

Key indicators of mood disorders vary widely among individuals but often include noticeable changes in mood, energy levels, and behavior. Individuals may exhibit:

  • Persistent sadness or depressed mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Irritability or frustration
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in sleep patterns and appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Physical symptoms that are unexplained by other health conditions

Printable List of Mood Disorders

Download this List of Mood Disorders to help healthcare practitioners better understand and identify various mood disorders.

Causes of mood disorders

No single cause is identified as the definitive source of mood disorders. Instead, it is the complex interplay of biological, psychological, and environmental factors that contribute to the risk profile of these mental disorders. We will discuss the major risk factors that can make individuals vulnerable to these conditions.

Biological factors

Biological influences on mood disorders include genetics, brain chemistry, hormonal imbalances, and physical health. Understanding these biological underpinnings can guide practitioners in the assessment and treatment planning process:

  • Genetic predisposition: There is a well-documented genetic link in mood disorders. Individuals with a family history of mood disorders, especially first-degree relatives with conditions like major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, have a higher tendency to experience similar challenges.
  • Neurotransmitter imbalance: Mood regulation is closely linked to the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Variations or disturbances in neurotransmitter systems, particularly serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, can predispose individuals to mood disorders.
  • Brain structure and function: Differences in the structure or functionality of specific brain regions involved in mood regulation may increase risk. Neuroimaging studies indicate that the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex might affect vulnerability to mood disorders.

Psychological factors

Psychological dimensions such as personality traits, coping mechanisms, and past trauma play a significant role in mood disorders. Acknowledging these psychological contributors is vital in creating effective, patient-centered care strategies.

  • Personality traits: Individuals with certain personality traits, such as high neuroticism, low extraversion, or a tendency towards pessimism, may be at higher risk.
  • Trauma and stressful life events: Experiences of trauma, abuse, significant loss, or high levels of chronic stress are known to elevate the risk of mood disorders. These experiences can trigger depression, especially in those who may be genetically predisposed.
  • Previous mental health disorders: A history of mental health issues, including anxiety disorders, eating disorders, or substance abuse, can be a factor for an individual to develop mood disorders.

Environmental factors

The impact of one's environment cannot be understated in the discussion of mood disorder risks. Professionals should consider these environmental contexts when assessing risk and developing interventions to support at-risk individuals.

  • Socioeconomic factors: Individuals facing socioeconomic disadvantages, such as poverty, chronic job insecurity, or social isolation, can be at heightened risk.
  • Relationships and social support: Lack of a supportive social network or experiencing unhealthy relationships can contribute to the onset of mood disorders.
  • Chronic physical health conditions: Long-term health problems, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, are often correlated with an increased risk of mood disorders, potentially due to the stress and lifestyle limitations imposed by chronic illness.

Types of mood disorders

Mood disorders represent a significant and diverse category. It is then essential for practitioners to understand the different types of mood disorders that patients may experience. This understanding can help diagnose and tailor treatment strategies effectively for each patient's unique situation. The following defines how mood disorders are often categorized:

Depressive disorders

The category of depressive disorders includes several conditions marked by feelings of extreme sadness or a loss of interest in life. Here’s a closer look at some critical types:

  • Major depression: This disorder is characterized by an intense, persistent feeling of depression that lasts for at least two weeks. It can significantly impair an individual's ability to function in daily life.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): SAD is a type of depression that occurs at specific times of the year, typically during the fall and winter months, when there's less natural sunlight.
  • Persistent depressive disorder: Known for its long-term grip, this form of depression stretches out for two years or more, often making it difficult for individuals to remember a time when they felt well.
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder: This disorder is diagnosed in children and teenagers and is characterized by severe and persistent irritability and episodes of extreme, disproportionate anger.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: This involves severe mood disturbances that occur as premenstrual symptoms, significantly more severe than typical premenstrual syndrome.

Bipolar and related disorders

Bipolar disorders are marked by dramatic shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to think clearly. These shifts range from highs (mania or hypomania) to lows (depression), affecting their behavior and functioning significantly.

  • Bipolar I disorder: Individuals with this disorder experience manic episodes that last at least a week or are so severe that hospital care is needed. These episodes are characterized by an enduring period of significantly elevated or irritable mood and inflated self-esteem, among other symptoms.
  • Bipolar II disorder: This condition is defined by a pattern of depressive episodes shifting back and forth with hypomanic episodes, which are less severe than the full-blown mania of Bipolar I.
  • Cyclothymic disorder: Those diagnosed with Cyclothymia experience milder, yet chronic, mood swings from highs to lows. These mood changes are less extreme than the ones found in Bipolar I or II disorders but can still hinder one's daily life.

Symptoms of mood disorders

As a mental health professional, it is essential to recognize the wide range of symptoms that mood disorders can present. These symptoms may vary widely among patients, making it necessary to approach each case with a clinical eye. The following are the most common mood disorders diagnosed:

Major depressive disorder (MDD)

Patients with MDD typically present a constellation of symptoms, the most prominent being a persistent feeling of sadness or a marked loss of interest in most activities. Other symptoms may include:

  • A significant change in appetite or weight
  • Disruptions in sleep patterns, whether insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Difficulties thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Noticeable changes in physical activity, such as restlessness or slowed movement
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Bipolar Disorders

Bipolar I disorder

Symptoms to be aware of include manic episodes that are either severe or last for at least one week, possibly coupled with psychotic features. Depressive episodes may occur, typically lasting at least two weeks. During manic episodes, patients might experience:

  • Elevated or irritable mood
  • Increased self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
  • Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
  • Distractibility
  • Increase in goal-directed activity or physical agitation
  • Engaging in high-risk behaviors

Bipolar II disorder

This disorder involves a pattern of depressive episodes and at least one hypomanic episode, without the full-blown manic episodes of Bipolar I Disorder. During hypomanic episodes, the symptoms are similar to manic episodes but less intense and without causing significant impairment in social or occupational functioning.

Cyclothymic disorder

Patients with Cyclothymic Disorder experience chronic fluctuating moods involving numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms. Symptoms do not meet the full criteria for a hypomanic or a depressive episode, and they persist for at least two years (or one year in children and adolescents).

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

SAD is characterized by depressive symptoms that occur with a seasonal pattern, most commonly starting in late fall or early winter and remitting during spring or summer. Key symptoms include:

  • Low energy and hypersomnia
  • Overeating, particularly with a craving for carbohydrates
  • Social withdrawal (feeling like “hibernating”)
  • Weight gain
  • A heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms or legs

How to use this template

This template is designed to help healthcare practitioners better understand and identify various mood disorders. It outlines common disorders and sets the stage for informed and empathetic care. Feel free to follow these steps as you use this resource to help you in practice:

Step 1: Understand the basics

Recognize the characteristics of the most common mood disorders. Major depressive disorder is known for persistent sadness and loss of interest. Bipolar disorders encompass a spectrum of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic or hypomanic highs.

Step 2: Identify key symptoms

Observe and note symptoms, such as deep sadness, loss of interest, or manic behavior. Also note their duration, which can pinpoint specific disorders such as acute in major depression, seasonal in SAD, chronic in persistent disorders, and episodic in bipolar disorders.

Step 3: Assess symptom patterns

Monitor mood changes about external factors. Pay attention to mood shifts that follow seasonal changes for SAD. For cyclothymia, look for persistent fluctuations over at least two years. Consider irritability and temper outbursts as potential signs of mood dysregulation disorders in children.

Step 4: Individualize patient care

Understand that no two patients are alike. Gather comprehensive life and symptom histories to inform your diagnoses. Engage with patients about their experiences and adjust evaluation and treatment strategies based on their feedback and clinical observations.

Step 5: Use standard tools

Conduct validated screening and diagnostic tools to help quantify symptoms and their impact. Use assessment tools such as the Mood Disorder Questionnaire and clinical judgment for a more complete picture of the patient’s mental health status, leading to a more precise diagnosis and tailored treatment plans.

How are mood disorders treated?

As there are a wide range of mood disorders that also significantly differ in their presentation, there are also different methods typically used to treat mood disorders. This includes the following:


Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy is a commonly used method in treating mood disorders. It provides a supportive environment for patients to discuss their feelings and thoughts and to identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is particularly effective for mood disorders, focusing on identifying and modifying negative thought patterns and behaviors. It teaches patients coping strategies to manage stress and challenges.


Psychiatric medications do not cure mood disorders, but they can significantly improve their symptoms.

  • Antidepressants: Used primarily for depression, they can also be helpful in certain bipolar disorder cases, particularly when combined with mood stabilizers.
  • Mood stabilizers: These are the go-to medication for bipolar disorder, helping control swings between depression and mania.
  • Antipsychotics: In cases where mood disorders include psychotic symptoms, antipsychotics can be effective.
  • Anti-anxiety medications: For those patients where anxiety is a prominent feature of their mood disorder, these medications may offer relief.

Lifestyle modifications

Encouraging patients to make lifestyle changes can also greatly support their recovery. This usually involves recommending the following:

  • Regular exercise: Physical activity is known to help reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.
  • Healthy diet: A balanced diet can impact overall well-being and mood.
  • Sleep hygiene: Improving sleep patterns can significantly affect mood disorder symptoms.
  • Stress reduction techniques: Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga are just a few methods that can help patients manage stress better.

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What if the symptoms I experience do not meet the diagnostic criteria for mood disorders?
What if the symptoms I experience do not meet the diagnostic criteria for mood disorders?

Commonly asked questions

What if the symptoms I experience do not meet the diagnostic criteria for mood disorders?

Even if your symptoms don't fully align with the diagnostic criteria for mood disorders, it's crucial to seek professional help. There are also further categories for mood disorders as well such as unspecified bipolar disorder and unspecified depressive disorder, which may account for this. Many people experience subthreshold symptoms that can still significantly affect their lives and may benefit from treatment or intervention.

What is a mood disorder due to a general medical condition?

A mood disorder due to a general medical condition is a diagnosis given when a significant mood disturbance results directly from the physiological effects of a separate medical condition. This diagnosis underscores the direct link between the medical condition and the mood disorder symptoms.

What are substance-induced mood disorders?

Substance-induced mood disorders are specific types of mental health conditions characterized by depressive, anxiety, psychotic, or manic symptoms that directly result from the physiological effects of substance use, including prescription medications, illegal drugs, and alcohol. These disorders can manifest during active substance use, intoxication, or withdrawal phases.

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