What’s An Affective Disorder?

What’s An Affective Disorder?

It’s common for people to have mood changes. You disagree with a coworker and become angry, sometimes bringing that emotion home with you. Sometimes, that kind of event can lead to depression or low moods. The next day, you may feel great or euphoric. But if you have an affective disorder, mood changes aren’t cut and dry. They can result in significant emotional pain and disrupt all facets of your life. But the good news is that affective disorders can be treated, often with therapy or medicine like ketamine.

Know the Symptoms

  • You feel sad, anxious, or have low moods
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Poor self-esteem
  • You feel inadequate or worthless
  • You feel guilty all the time
  • Frequent thoughts of death, suicide, or self-harm
  • You’re not interested in things you used to enjoy doing
  • Relationship issues
  • Problems sleeping
  • Changes in appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Low energy or tiredness
  • Problems concentrating or decision making
  • Frequent and mysterious physical ailments that don’t go away with treatment
  • You run away or threaten to run away from home
  • You’re overly sensitive to failure or being rejected
  • You’re easily irritated, hostile, or aggressive

Causes and Risk Factors

No one knows for sure what causes affective disorders or mood disorders, but there are tantalizing clues. There may be numerous underlying issues, depending on the kind of disorder you have. Research and medicine tell us that various genetic, biological, environmental, and other influencers are linked to mood disorders.

But what other factors can increase your risk of developing such a condition? Here are a few to be aware of:

  • Your family history. Mood disorders may be passed down between blood relatives.
  • You’ve already received a diagnosis of a mood disorder.
  • You’ve been depressed or experienced trauma, stress, or significant life changes that have affected your moods.
  • You may have a physical illness or use a certain medicine. Affective or mood disorders may be linked to widespread diseases like cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, and heart disease.
  • The physical structure of your brain and how it works, especially in the case of someone with bipolar disorder.

Mood Disorders by the Numbers

According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health:

  • Almost 10% of U.S. adults experienced a mood disorder in the past year.
  • Past year instances of a mood disorder in adults were higher for women (11.6%) than for men (7.7%).
  • Affective or mood disorders were highest among people 18 to 29 years old (12.9%), then 30-44 years old (11.9%), 45-59 years old (9.4%), and people over 60 (3.6%).
  • About 14% of adolescents experience a mood disorder.

What Are the Main Affective (Or Mood) Disorders?

The most common affective or mood disorders include:

  • Major depressive disorder, or just depression, is lingering and persistent episodes of intense sadness.
  • Bipolar disorder, also known as bipolar affective disorder, features alternating instances of depression and mania.
  • Seasonal affective disorder is a depression intricately linked with fewer hours of natural daylight in certain geographic locations between late fall and early spring. Less commonly, SAD episodes may also begin during the late spring or summer. Symptoms of winter seasonal affective disorder may resemble those of major depression. They tend to disappear or lessen during spring and summer.
  • Cyclothymic disorder causes emotional highs and lows that are less severe than bipolar disorder.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder features mood changes and irritability that happen during a female’s premenstrual phase and subsides with the start of menses.
  • Persistent depressive disorder is a chronic kind of depression.
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is characterized by chronic, severe, and dogged irritability in kids, including recurrent temper tantrums that are erratic based on the child’s age.
  • Depression related to medical illness is when you have depressed moods and no longer find pleasure in certain things linked to the physical effects of a different medical condition.
  • Depression is because of substance use or medication, where symptoms start during or following substance use or withdrawal or after you’ve been exposed to medicine.

But such disorders can be treated. A healthcare provider typically diagnoses mood or affective disorders while looking for an underlying cause for your symptoms or a mental health specialist. During a psychiatric examination, you’ll be asked about your thoughts, feelings, and behavior as symptom triggers and whether you or a family member has a history of mental illness.

Treatment may include psychotherapy, self-help, diet and lifestyle changes, or ketamine.

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