My good people. How are we feeling this week? Everything going okay? Did you look for a new gig? Perhaps you got the attention of that stunning person you met online the other night. Did your kids do great in school?
That’s wonderful. I’m glad for the success. We all need to take a minute to celebrate our wins.
Me, however, I’m not in the mood.
Not that I don’t have a couple of personal and professional wins on my tally sheet this week—quite the opposite. I’ve had an okay week. I just don’t feel like celebrating.
This can come from many reasons. First, I’m a little burnt out at work. Second, I’m nearing the end of the semester, and college is getting spicy. Third, some responsibilities that I’ve been avoiding are reminding me of their presence. The seasons are changing, and I get less sunlight as the days go by. The SADness is starting to kick a little harder every day.
I would venture a guess and say that a lot of us are not in the mood.
These are just my struggles, and I’m well aware of them. You, on the other hand, might be struggling and not fully realize the extent of it. There is still a global pandemic happening. People are still losing jobs, homes, and loved ones left and right. Kids are still kids, and parents are still parents. The power bill is still due. It’s a lot.
Life happens, and it can affect our moods. However, there is a difference between normal moods and more severe situations. Mood disorders can sneak up out of nowhere. You may be doing okay, and then the rug gets pulled out from underneath you. It’s important to recognize when something is feeling off with your mental health.
For this week, let’s dip our toes into the pool of mood disorders. The variety is plentiful, and there are lots of options to choose from. Unfortunately, if I wanted to do a deep dive into each of them, it would take months.
Maybe one day, but not this day.
There are many different flavors of mood disorders, but most fall into some major categories. I’ll discuss the heavy hitters first.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): This is what most folks envision when talking about a mood disorder. MDD is probably one of the most common mood disorders. It can affect everyone from time to time for a multitude of reasons. It involves periods of extreme sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness accompanied by various physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms. MDD episodes that last for longer than a few weeks can be described as chronic depressive disorder.
Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD): This is one of the newer disorders in the DSM-V. This diagnosis is meant to include both chronic major depressive disorder that has lasted for two or more years and what was previously known as dysthymic disorder or dysthymia, a lower grade form of depression. Putting these two together makes sense because the only significant differences are the severity and duration of symptoms
Bipolar Disorder I: Formerly known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is another disorder that has multiple parts. It is commonly associated with cycling rounds of severe depression and severe mania. The term “Mania” describes euphoric and/or irritable moods and increased energy or activity. During manic episodes, people with bipolar I also regularly engage in reckless behaviors that can have painful consequences for themselves and others.
Bipolar Disorder II: This is a slightly different beast. Still very close to its sister, bipolar disorder II has differing criteria for diagnosis. According to Very Well Mind: “To be diagnosed with bipolar II, a person must have had at least one episode of current or past hypomania (a less severe form of mania), and at least one episode of current or past major depression, but no history of any manic episodes. The criteria for episodes of mania, hypomania, and major depression remain the same.”
The following few disorders have recently been added to the DSM-V as well.
New Kids in the Book
Disruptive Mood Regulation Disorder: This spinoff of depression was included for children and adolescents up to age 18. These kids show persistent irritability and anger and frequent episodes of extreme temper outbursts without any significant provocation. What the old folk might refer to as “mad at the world for no reason.” Oh, there’s a reason, but they can’t always articulate it.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: People with uteruses have been telling us for years that this is a problem; they just gave it a fancy name. Again, from Very Well Mind: “This diagnosis is based on the presence of one or more specific symptoms in the week before the onset of menstruation, followed by the resolution of these symptoms after onset. The symptoms include mood swings, irritability or anger, depressed mood or hopelessness, and anxiety or tension, as well as one or more of an additional seven symptoms, for a total of at least five symptoms.” It’s a terror of a disorder alone, but heaven forbid if you have any other medical issues happening at the same time. Speaking of which…
Moods related to another health condition: This one is pretty straightforward. If you feel like your uterus is trying to escape your body for a few weeks every month and it wants to do as much damage as possible on the way out, it might put you in a foul mood. Perhaps struggling to exist because of chronic pain and inflammation is putting you down in the dumps. Does the thought of taking another round of chemo make you want to unalive yourself? It doesn’t matter which, but severe medical conditions can take a toll on your mental health as well. Seems logical to me.
Substance abuse induced mood disorders: Another straightforward case. This mood disorder involves symptoms of depression that are due to the effects of medicine, drug abuse, alcoholism, exposure to toxins, or other forms of treatment.
What to Look For
Almost all of these disorders have the same types of symptoms. Here’s a short, incomplete list of the more common types.
From Johns Hopkins Medicine:
- Ongoing sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feeling hopeless or helpless
- Having low self-esteem
- Feeling inadequate or worthless
- Excessive guilt
- Repeating thoughts of death or suicide, wishing to die, or attempting suicide (Note: People with this symptom should get treatment right away!)
- Loss of interest in usual activities or activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
- Relationship problems
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Changes in appetite and/or weight
- Decreased energy
- Trouble concentrating
- A decrease in the ability to make decisions
- Frequent physical complaints (for example, headache, stomachache, or tiredness) that don’t get better with treatment
- Running away or threats of running away from home
- Very sensitive to failure or rejection
- Irritability, hostility, or aggression
I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but this horse is still putting up a fight. There is no shame in seeking treatment for mental illness. There shouldn’t be. If this is such a global happening, there should be no limit to the number of available resources and supports.
Bad joke, I know, but the point is that knowing when to get help is major. You should seek help when:
- Your emotions interfere with your job, relationships, social activities, or other parts of life
- Struggling with drugs and/or alcohol
- You begin having suicidal ideation
I know it’s hard. Mood disorders are no joke and are nearly impossible to handle without some kind of professional assistance. I implore you to find help if you can. I’m not a doctor, and this is not any type of diagnosis. Instead, I’m spreading information and possibly hope here.
I’ve been where you are. Frankly, I’m still there, but I’m still fighting.
For myself. Because I deserve.
And so do you.
Take care. Be safe. I love you.