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Mood Disorders

Central Issues: Disturbances in Emotion (Sadness or Melancholy vs. Elation & Excitement)

[Some Famous People W/Depression]

Some Recent Statistics

[Percentage Americans Using Antidepressive Rxs] 
[Depressive Episodes in US 2011]

The Dual Face of Mood Disturbance


Pole I: Depressive Episode
Pole II: Manic Episode
Affective-Emotional Symptoms
  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Despair
  • Withdrawn
  • Irritability/Anger (especially with adolescents)
  • Elation
  • Euphoria
  • Socially intense & engaged
  • Irritability & "thin skinned"
Cognitive Symptoms
  • Complaints of slowness in thinking
  • Negative evaluation of (1) self, (2) the world, & (3) the future (Aaron Beck's "negative triad")
  • Self-blame
  • Guilt
  • Suicidal or self-destructive thoughts
  • Thoughts "racing" (flight of ideas)
  • Grandiosity
  • Extreme self-confidence
  • Impulsive (ill-considered actions)
Motor & Physiological Symptoms
  • Lack of activity
  • Disturbance in sleep (getting to sleep; early awakening)
  • Decreased sexual interest & activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Tirelessness (little to no sleep)
  • Hyperactive & restless (occasionally, to the point of agitation)
  • Increased sexual interest & activity
  • Talkative

1. Major Depressive Disorder (Unipolar Disorder)

Onset & Course


NIMH suggests that up to 9.5% of Americans have a depressive disorder in any one year
Current lifetime risk in the US may be as high as 19% or more (Merikangas et al., 2011)
Some suggestions that, among younger people, the lifetime risk may turn out to be as high as 25-40%
Women are 2 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression as men.

2. Bipolar Disorder

   Note that in DSM-5, Bipolar Disorder is treated as a separate disorder from Major Depression.

Onset & Course


Gender differences in bipolar disorder are much smaller than in depression. For "pure" bipolar disorder, the rate between women and men is roughly 1:1 (equal). For bipolar spectrum disorder the rate between women and men is about 3:2 (50% greater in women).
Etiology (Causes) of Mood Disorders

[Mood disorders-causes]

Genetic Vulnerabilities


Psychological Vulnerabilities


Precipitating Factors: Stress


lead to

A. Neurochemical & Biological Problems

B. Cognitive Problems

C. Interpersonal Problems

lead to

Mood Disorders


Caspi, A., Sugden, K.,...& Poulton, R. (2003). Influence of life stress on depression: Moderation by a polymorphism in the 5-HTT gene. Science, 301, 386-389.

Merikangas, K. R., et al. (2007). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of bipolar spectrum disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64, 543-553. 

Merikangas, K. R., et al. (2011). Prevalence and correlates of bipolar spectrum disorder in the World Mental Health Survey initiative. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68(2), 241-251. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.12

Sharma, A. N., Fries, G. R., Galvez, J. F., et al (2016). Modeling mania in preclinical settings: A comprehensive review. Progress in Neuro-Pharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 66, 22-34. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2015.11.001


This page was originally posted on 11/21/03 and last updated on December 4, 2016