One of the biggest struggles in helping someone with depression or another mental health issue is recognizing the symptoms. Because symptoms of mood disorders show up in other conditions, it’s hard to get a handle on what’s going on. But there are ways to support someone with a mood disorder.
What Is A Mood Disorder?
Mood disorders are tricky and complicated. Their symptoms can mimic those of other conditions and vary by person. But generally, the term mood disorder is used broadly to describe all kinds of depression and bipolar disorders.
Anyone can have a mood disorder, no matter their age, race, or gender. However, children and teens may have different symptoms compared to adults, and the condition is harder to diagnose because kids can’t always say how they feel. In most cases, similar treatment applies regardless of age.
Types of Mood Disorders?
Depending on symptoms, severity, and other factors, you may have one or more mood disorders.
- Major depression means you’re less interested in normal activities, have prolonged sadness, and other symptoms lasting two weeks or longer.
- Dysthymia includes lengthy, low-grade, or depressed or irritable moods lasting for at least two years.
- Bipolar disorder is when you have depression which alternates with episodes of mania or elevated moods.
- Seasonal affective disorder is a kind of depression often linked to fewer daylight hours in certain geographic regions between November or December to early spring.
- You could have a mood disorder linked to another health problem. Several medical illnesses, like cancer, chronic illnesses, infections, and injuries, can trigger warning signs of depression.
- Some people have a substance-induced mood disorder. Normal symptoms of depression are driven by the effects of alcoholism, drug abuse, toxic substance exposure, medicine, or other kinds of treatment.
Know the Symptoms
Symptoms, which can often be treated with therapy or medicine like ketamine, depend on the kind of mood disorder you have. But they usually include:
- You feel sad most of the time and nearly every day
- Low energy or feeling sluggish
- You feel worthless or hopeless
- Unexpected weight loss or gain due to appetite changes
- Sleep problems
- Preoccupation with suicide
- Feeling highly energized or elated
- Fast speech or movement
- Agitation, irritability, or restlessness
- Risky behavior
Causes & Risk Factors
No one knows what causes a mood disorder, but there are many contributing factors. A chemical imbalance in the brain is one; stressful life changes another. All add up to a depressed mood, which can also lead to the presence of mood disorders in families.
- Family history
- A previous diagnosis
- Traumatic events
- Physical illness, like cancer or diabetes, or using of certain medicine
- Your brain structure and how it works
Advice on How to Support Someone with a Mood Disorder
Helping someone with a mood disorder isn’t always easy. You don’t want to say the wrong thing or overstep the mark, so where do you begin? Here are some ideas to consider.
- Don’t forget that a mood disorder is a medical condition affecting a person’s brain but is treatable. It’s real, the same as diabetes or asthma. There’s no connection between character flaws or personal weakness.
- Someone with a mood disorder can’t force themselves out of it, so don’t ask them to try. That’s beyond their control, and is as hard as overcoming diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure without help.
- Educate yourself about what your loved one is going through, and what kinds of treatment may help, including ketamine therapy.
- Ask if they need help with daily tasks like housekeeping, errands, or babysitting.
- Always provide unconditional love and support.
- You can’t fix someone’s problems on your own, so extoll the benefits of professional help.
- Don’t forget that a mood disorder influences a person’s attitude and beliefs. Negative or grandiose statements like “nothing good ever happens to me,” or “no one really loves me,” are probably symptoms of a mood disorder. But with treatment, the person will come to realize these ideas aren’t a reflection of reality.
- Be realistic about what’s going on. The person can recover, but it’s not instantaneous. Maintain patience, positivity, and a hopeful attitude.
- Extoll the benefits of getting enough sleep and having a daily routine.
- Offer to spend quiet time together at home if that’s what they prefer.
Finally, take care of yourself so you can be present for your loved one. Finding support for yourself through friends, relatives, or support groups may help assist the other person indirectly.