There are times when a person is not able to contain their excitement due to some good news or positive turn in life and there are times when people feel low and down due to repeated blows of life. Feelings of excitement, happiness, sadness or discouragement are all very natural for a normal, healthy individual to experience in their life time. However, when the change in mood is so noticeable that it starts affecting daily activities and interferes with the general well being of a person, it becomes a serious issue and this is termed as mood disorder.
Is There A Test To Diagnose Mood Disorders?
General medical conditions and physical illnesses are diagnosed with some form of lab test or imaging. However, mood disorders are different as they are mental health condition of an individual, not a mere physical illness that will show up in a laboratory testing. Hence, the criterion for their diagnoses is different. Although, lab tests may be done to find out the etiology behind the symptoms, most of the mood disorders diagnoses can be done by telling the healthcare professional about the symptoms, thoughts, behavior, feelings and your current state of mind. Depending upon the symptoms, psychiatric assessment will be carried out.
For the screening of depression, you are asked to fill a PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire-9) form, which contains a set of 9 questions with the level of severity that helps with the diagnoses of depression. These questions include whether a person has disturbance in sleeping, feeling hopeless or depressed, feeling like a failure or disappointment in family, lacking energy or fatigue, poor concentration, loss of appetite or weight change, loss of interest or pleasure in things, moving or speaking slowly or very quickly, and suicidal ideation. Depending on the scoring, the patient can be classified as not depressed, mild depression, moderate depression or severe depression and conditional treatment is provided along with referral to a mental health professional.
Bipolar disorders can be diagnosed by following the criteria in bipolar and related disorders in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) manual of APA (American Psychiatric Association).
There are several mood conditions or mood disorders that may affect an individual. These include major depressive disorder (unipolar depression), bipolar disorder (manic depression), dysthymic disorder (persistent depressive disorder), cyclothymic disorder (mild bipolar disorder), seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and depression induced due to alcohol, substance abuse and medication. It is noteworthy that approximately 1 in 5 people are affected by mood disorders at a given point in their lives. Although depression is more common affecting 17% US citizens in their lifetime, bipolar affects only 1% of the total population.
Major depressive disorder is a common diagnosis. It is episodic, prolonged and persistent condition. The symptoms should be persistent for at least 2 weeks for it to be diagnosed as major depressive disorder. Depression can be related to many factors such as family history, alcohol, substance abuse, medication, biochemistry of the person, medical illness, due to personality, or major life traumas. Seasonal affective disorder is another form of depression in which people are depressed seasonally (autumn to spring season) due to less hours of daylight. Dysthymia is yet another form of major depression that is mild, but chronically present (for more than 2 years), thus it is also known as persistent depressive disorder. Women are more prone to depression than men, ratio being 2:1.
Bipolar disorder or manic depression is a disorder in which a person experiences fluctuations between periods of extreme depression and extreme periods of elevated mood or mania. Bipolar can range from mild to severe; mild form of bipolar disorder is known as cyclothymia. The duration of bipolar disorder can vary from a few hours to several months. Generally, it runs in families and in 75% cases, people suffering from bipolar disorder have at least one close family member living with it.
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