New Oakland Child-Adolescent and Family Center
Depression / Mood
Although it's normal for moods to shift in reaction to news or an event, consistent mood swings can signal a disorder. Mood disorders involve either persistent or quickly fluctuating feelings of sadness or of being overly happy. The most common mood disorders are:
1. Depression: Depression is more than just a feeling of being "down in the dumps," the feelings persist. There are a variety of causes, including genetics, environment, psychological and biochemical factors. Depression can start early in life and is much more common in females.
Not long ago, the prevailing view was that feeling depressed was all in your head and that if someone really tried, they could pull themselves out of it. We know now, of course, that that's not the case. Depression is no longer considered a failure of character. It's not your fault and it can be treated. There's no single cause for depression.
A combination of 3 factors work together to cause depression:
- Chemical imbalances in the brain
Symptoms can include:
- Sadness; loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Change in weight either gained or lost
- Restlessness or fatigue; increased or decreased sleep
- Energy loss; feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself
- Irritability, frustration, angry outbursts even over small matters
- Crying spells for no apparent reason; frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
In children and teens, depression often occurs along with behavior problems and other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or ADHD and may be accompanied by anger and avoidance of social interaction.
2. Mania: Mania is a state of abnormally elevated or irritated mood, arousal, and/ or energy level. In a sense, it is the opposite of depression. People experiencing mania may act in irrational ways, characterized by inflated self-esteem, racing thoughts, excessive talking, distractibility and excessive engagement in risky pleasure activities.
Symptoms can include:
- Abnormally elevated or expansive mood
- Extreme and abnormal irritability, hostility
- Easily excited to enthusiasm, anger, agitation or another emotion
3. Bipolar disorder: Bipolar Disorder combines both depression and mania and therefore is also known as manic depression and causes serious mood shifts from the highs of mania to the lows of depression. The cycles of bipolar disorder range from fleeting to lasting for days, weeks, or months. The mood changes of bipolar disorder are so intense that they interfere with the ability to function.
The symptoms can be subtle and confusing, resulting in many people with bipolar disorder being overlooked or misdiagnosed which then causes unnecessary suffering. With proper treatment and support, people with bipolar disorder can lead rich, fulfilling lives.