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Identifying Mental Health Issues

What Are Mood Disorders

Mood disorders are treatable medical conditions involving changes in mood, thought, energy and behavior. A person with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, has moods that usually alternate between mania, or extremely “up” mood, and depression, or extremely “down” mood. A person with major (unipolar) depression has periods of “down” mood. Mood disorders have many symptoms, including: 

Symptoms of depression:

  • Sad, empty, irritable or tearful mood most of the day, nearly every day.
  • No interest in or pleasure from activities once enjoyed.
  • Major changes in appetite or body weight.
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much.
  • Feelings of restlessness or being slowed down.
  • Fatigue, exhaustion, lack of energy.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt.
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

 Symptoms of mania:

  • Feeling overly energetic, high, better than good, or unusually irritable for at least one week.
  • Very high self-esteem, feeling all-powerful.
  • Decreased need for sleep without feeling tired.
  • Talking more than usual, feeling pressure to keep talking.
  • Racing thoughts, many ideas coming all at once.
  • Distracted easily, thoughts or statements jumping topic-to-topic.
  • Increase in goal-directed activity, restlessness.
  • Excessive pursuit of pleasure (e.g. financial or sexual) without thought of consequences.

What is the difference between a mood disorder and ordinary mood swings? 

Intensity: Mood swings that come with a mood disorder are usually more severe than ordinary mood swings.

Length: A bad mood is usually gone in a few days, but mania or depression can last weeks or months. When a person suffers from rapid cycling, high and low moods can come and go quickly, but the person does not usually return to a stable mood for a long period of time.

Interference with life: The extremes in mood that come with mood disorders can cause serious problems. For example, depression can make a person unable to get out of bed or go to work, or mania can cause a person to go for days without sleep or spend money he or she does not have.

Characteristics of male depression:

Most men are trained to focus on achievement and success, so they feel constant pressure to perform well. But if they experience setbacks at home or in the workplace, they may keep their distress to themselves. Women – including those who focus on achievement and success – usually feel free to seek help.

In both men and women common signs and symptoms of depression include feeling down in the dumps, sleeping poorly, and feeling sad, guilty and worthless. Depressed men, however, have bouts of crying less often than depressed women. Instead, depressed men are more likely to 

  • Become angry and frustrated;
  • Behave violently
  • Take serious risks, such as reckless driving
  • Avoid family, friends and pleasurable activities
  • Complain of fatigue
  • Lose interest in work, hobbies and sex
A history of alcohol or drug abuse is common among men with depression, although there is debate over whether substance abuse is a cause or result of being depressed.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

What is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is an illness characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Although ADHD is usually diagnosed in childhood, it is not a disorder limited to children – ADHD often persists into adolescence and adulthood and is frequently not diagnosed until later years.

 Panic Disorder

 What’s happening?

  • Imagine you’ve just stepped into an elevator and suddenly your heart races, your chest aches, you break out in a cold sweat and feel as if the elevator is about to crash to the ground.
  • Imagine you are driving to work and suddenly things seem to be out of control. You feel hot flashes, things around you blur, you can’t tell where you are, and you feel as if you’re dying.

What’s happening is a panic attack, an uncontrollable panic response to ordinary, nonthreatening situations. Panic attacks are often an indication that a person has panic disorder.

What is panic disorder?

A person who experiences recurrent panic attacks, at least one of which leads to at least a month of increased anxiety or avoidant behavior, is said to have panic disorder. Panic disorder may also be indicated if a person experiences fewer than four panic episodes but has recurrent or constant fears of having another panic attack.

Panic attacks can occur in anyone. Chemical or hormonal imbalances, drugs or alcohol, stress, or other situational events can cause panic attacks. 

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