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The 6 types of mood disorders

The 6 types of mood disorders

June 17, 2024

Our mood moves us. When we are sad we tend to turn off, to avoid action and to get away from things, while when we are happy and euphoric we tend to have energy and want to act. Although some people act in a very rational way and say to leave their emotions aside, they are the ones that allow us to motivate ourselves to do or not do something, to decide whether we like something or not or if we tend to approach or avoid situations or stimuli .

It also influences how we see the world and ourselves. In short, it is something very relevant and that greatly influences our ability to adapt. But increasingly we find people whose mood is not adaptive, is fixed at one end in a pathological way and hinders their well-being and functionality. We are talking about mood disorders .


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What do we call mood disorders?

Mood disorders are understood to be that set of psychic alterations linked to the presence of moods altered in a more or less persistent manner that generate a significant alteration in the person's life, resulting extreme and pathological mood making it difficult for the person to adapt to their daily life.

These are disorders that cause a deep suffering to the person, altering aspects such as self-esteem, the way of seeing the world and events and attributing causes and responsibilities. They affect not only the affective domain itself, but also cognition and even the perception of the environment. They also generate repercussions in all the vital areas, varying the way of relating to the environment and the rest of the subjects that are part of it.


We are facing the group of disorders, along with anxiety disorders, which is the most prevalent worldwide, with a high percentage of the population suffering some type of affectation of this type. It should also be noted that the other group of disorders that we have just mentioned, anxiety disorders, they are deeply linked to these being frequent that they appear together or that the sufferings that one generates end up provoking the other.

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Disorders included

Within the disorders of the state of mind we can find some of the mental disorders with greater incidence and prevalence worldwide. Some of the most relevant nosological and diagnostic entities are the following, although we must bear in mind that we can also find depressive and bipolar disorders not specified (which do not have sufficient characteristics of the disorders we are going to talk about but are linked to ) and those induced by substances and / or medical illness.


1. Major depressive disorder

The most prevalent mood disorder of all and one of the most well-known mental disorders. It is characterized by the presence during at least two weeks of a sad mood and decayed most of the day with the loss or decline of motivation and the ability to feel pleasure, in addition to other symptoms such as sleep problems, eating and concentration , slowness or agitation, fatigue, hopelessness and passivity. They also tend to have problems when making decisions and may experience suicidal thoughts and desires.

2. Dysthymia (current persistent depressive disorder)

Similar to the previous one but generally with less intensity in the symptoms and with a much longer duration (being able to become chronic), it is identified as such a disorder characterized by presence for at least two years during most of the day during almost all the days (not having periods without symptoms of more than two months in a row) of a depressed and sad mood, in addition to eating problems, sleep, fatigue, low self-esteem, hopelessness and problems of concentration and decision-making.

Although at a specific moment it may seem less serious than a major depression because its symptoms are less intense , we must also bear in mind that the problems remain for much longer, producing an accumulation wear to be taken into account.

3. Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is another of the main and most well-known mood disorders, in which there is usually an alternation between manic episodes (in which there is at least a week of an expansive and irritable state of mind, high level of energy, sensations of grandiosity that can lead to delirium, verbiage, accelerated thinking, distractibility, risk behaviors and in some cases hallucinations at such a high level that hospitalization is sometimes required) or hypomaniacs (similar to the previous one but of less intensity and duration, being present for at least four days and although observable does not generate deterioration) and depressive episodes (equivalent in symptomatology to the symptoms described in major depression, which actually implies the existence of this type of episodes).

Actually there is not one, but two basic types of bipolar disorder . In bipolar disorder type 1 the subject experiences or has experienced at least one manic or mixed episode, which may or may not be preceded or followed by a depressive and hypomanic episode. To diagnose type 2 it is necessary that there be at least one depressive episode and one hypomanic one (without there having been any manic or mixed episodes).

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4. Cyclothymia or cyclothymic disorder

Cyclothymia is understood to be a disorder of the state of mind in which the subject presents multiple alternating hypomanic and depressive symptoms, without sufficient intensity to diagnose an episode or depressive or bipolar disorder for at least two years. The symptoms are continued and there is usually a rapid alternation, in days. We would be facing the equivalent of the relationship between dysthymia and depression but in the case of bipolar disorder, being milder than the bipolar in symptomatology but much more prolonged and with faster cycles.

Changes in the DSM-5

Although most professionals still consider them as mood disorders, the truth is that this diagnostic label has disappeared as such in the latest version of one of the main reference manuals, the DSM-5. And it is that in this one it has been decided to stop encompassing all mood disorders in a single category to do so in two, by virtue of the existence of two generic types of this disorder.

In this way, we can now find that instead of mood disorders the different psychopathologies mentioned above fall into two major categories: bipolar disorders and depressive disorders.

This decision can generate the problem of considering them very different clinical entities when they are often related, but in practice it is still dealing with the same problems that were previously known with what, on a practical level, has a great impact.

What is relevant is the creation of new diagnostic labels added, which although they are not so named, would also form part of those known as mood disorders.

Disorders added in the DSM-5

In addition to the aforementioned, in the latest version of the DSM we find that some new diagnostic labels have been generated . In this sense, the novelties include two previously unidentified disorders, such as those belonging to mood disorders or included in other disorders.

1. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Although previously the existence of the premenstrual syndrome was known, being something very expanded and suffered by a large number of women, the DSM-5 has added this syndrome as a disorder. It is considered as such the presence during most menstrual cycles of affective lability (ie rapid changes in mood), irritability, anxiety, intense tension, self-depreciation or depression along with fatigue, sleep problems, appetite changes, pain, disinterest and problems of concentration, being necessary that at least five of these symptoms occur during the week prior to the arrival of menstruation.

2. Destructive dysregulation disorder of mood

This disorder is defined by the presence for at least one year and almost daily Disproportionate anger and irritability for the situation that generates them, exploding in the form of verbal or physical access (being able to reach aggression) with a persistent irascible state of mind between the accesses. These occur at least three times and can be observed per week in more than two different contexts, the first symptoms appearing before ten years of age and not being diagnosed before six or after eighteen years of age.

Bibliographic references:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.

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