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Mood Disorders: What do we do?

What are the mood disorders and what do we do?

What are the Mood Disorders?

Mood disorders relate to conditions in which the primary experience is a disturbance in mood. Mood has been defined by the DSM-IV glossary as “a pervasive and sustained emotion that colors the person’s perception of the world. Common examples of mood include depression, elation, anger, and anxiety.” While this definition includes elation and anxiety, most references in psychological literature restrict the term “mood disorder” to individuals with a predominantly depressed, elevated or irritable mood. The DSM-IV categorizes the mood disorders to include seven specific disorders: Major Depressive Disorder, Dysthymic Disorder, Bipolar I disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder, Mood Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition, and Substance-Induced Mood Disorder. It is always important to bear in mind that while the mood disorders are segregated into specific categories, mood symptoms are not necessarily restricted to these conditions and may also include such diagnostic categories as adjustment disorders, dementias, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and any number of childhood disorders. The commonality among all of these disorders, is that there are specific changes in mood, which are relatively pervasive and sustained over a period of time.


Mood disorders may occur in an episodic pattern, with periods of normal mood alternating with periods of a disturbed mood. The DSM-IV Guidebook defines for specific types of mood episode:

  • Major Depressive Episode: at least two weeks of depressed mood accompanied by a characteristic pattern of depressive symptoms.
  • Manic Episode: at least one week of elevated, euphoric, or irritable mood accompanied by a characteristic pattern of manic symptoms.
  • Mixed Episode: at least one week of manic and depressive symptoms.
  • Hypomanic Episode: at least four days of elevated, euphoric, or irritable mood that is less severe than a manic episode.

Frequently users of the DSM-IV become slightly confused with the relationship between mood episodes and mood disorders. When clinicians diagnose mood disorders, they also incorporate mood episodes into the diagnosis of the mood disorder which are not diagnostic in and of themselves. Each of the mood disorders are described in detail on separate pages of this web site.

By Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist  Ph.D Candidate

Source: DSM-IV   &   DSM-Guidebook

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