Everyone has a bad day once in a while and gets unhappy or bad-tempered. But for people with mood disorders, every day can be characterized by unhappy and bad-tempered feelings. 20 million people of all ages in the U.S. (9.5% of the U.S. population) have mood disorders. This broad category of disorders covers many illnesses that can impact your life, including depression. Some common mood disorders include:

  • Major depression
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Dysthymic disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
  • Cyclothymic disorder 
  • Depression related to medical illness
  • Depression induced by substance use or medication

A mood disorder can have a negative impact on your life - at work, at school, with family and friends. Children, adolescents, and adults can suffer from mood disorders. Most mood disorders are treatable, and with the right treatment, you can start feeling more like yourself again. 


Your doctor can help you find the best course of treatment for your mood disorder. Every mood disorder has different symptoms, and each person experiences mood disorders differently. Some common symptoms that indicate that you should talk to your doctor about your mood include:

  • Suicidal ideation or behavior including making suicide plans - Call 911 immediately
  • Self-harm including cutting
  • Unusual or excessive consumption of drugs or alcohol
  • Rapid speech and racing thoughts
  • A sudden onset of sadness or periods of sadness 
  • Having a traumatic experience
  • A rapidly changing cycle of moods, like being very sad one day and very happy the next
  • Changes in your mood when the seasons change
  • Feeling like your mood is affecting your work or school life
  • Losing interest in things that you normally enjoy
  • Feeling as though you are looking at life outside of your body, like it is a TV show
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness and low self-esteem


A mood disorder may be something you only have happen to you a few times in your life, or it could be a chronic condition for which you will continue to need treatment. While the exact cause of mood disorders can’t be pinpointed, some of these factors are correlated with mood disorders:

  • Experiencing trauma including war, domestic violence, sexual assault, or child abuse
  • A brain injury or other traumatic injury or illness
  • Substance misuse and excessive consumption of drugs or alcohol
  • A family history of mood disorders, depression, and anxiety
  • Gender - women are twice as likely to experience a mood disorder as men
  • An imbalance of brain chemicals or other brain malfunction
  • Loneliness or isolation
  • A recent change in family or work life like getting divorced, losing your job, or a death in the family


Talk to your doctor right away if you’re experiencing any symptoms of a mood disorder. You and your doctor can come up with a care plan that fits your needs. Mood disorders can be treated successfully with medication, therapy, and support. 

Medication: Antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and mood stabilizers can help you start feeling better. Find a doctor to talk to about medication.

Therapy: A therapist can help you find coping strategies and learn ways to control your mood disorder. See your therapy options at Sheppard Pratt.

Education: Learning more about mood disorders can help you recognize them and their triggers. These resources can help you learn more. 

Support: Getting the support that you need to overcome the complications of a mood disorder can help you feel better faster. Locate a support group at Sheppard Pratt.