What Part Of The Brain Is Affected By Mood Disorders?

Which Part Of Brain Is Affected In Mood Disorders?

The clinical diagnoses of major depressive disorder is taken into account if there is persistence of symptoms of depressed mood with loss of interest and pleasure in things previously were a source of interest or pleasure; along with fatigue, loss of concentration or focus, sleep disturbance, loss of appetite or overeating, suicidal ideation or self-inflicting thoughts, disturbances in speech (either slow talking or incohesive speech). Anxiety can coexist with major depressive disorder in the form of panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder or social phobia.

Bipolar disorder is associated with episodes of depression for which symptoms remain same as major depressive disorder along with manic or hypomanic condition. Manic condition consists of symptoms of euphoria, instability, and increase in the capacity and behavior for pleasurable activity, elated energy, libido, energy, psychomotor activity, need for less sleep, along with elevated self-esteem. Hence, both depression and mania affect the same functional domain of the brain, but in opposing manner.

Experimental and neuroimaging studies have shown that LCSPT (limbic cortical striatal pallidal thalamic) circuits connect with hypothalamus and PAG (periaqueductal gray), which govern the emotional behavior in humans and implicated in pathology of depression. Recent studies have shown that in addition to LCSPT, orbital and medial prefrontal cortex is associated with the emotions and mood of an individual. Studies have shown volumetric reduction in prefrontal cortex, cingulated and temporal lobe area and reduction in the left anterior cingulated gray matter. The roles of hippocampus, amygdala and basal ganglia have also been implicated in mood disorders. More research and further studies will help in substantiating the current findings.

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders are the disturbances in the emotional well-being of a person. General, mood changes are common in our everyday lives, but when these mood disturbances become frequent and persistent, they affect the person negatively and hampers them from leading a normal, balanced life. Mood disorders are distinct from mental illnesses as these are mental health conditions and mental state of mind that may affect a person’s constructive decision making skills. Mood disorders may cause a person to be either happy or sad or fluctuating emotions and leave them with no interest in day to day lives. Women and young adults are more commonly affected by mood disorders.

There are mostly two types of mood disorders, namely, major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. Major depressive disorder is associated with low and depressing mood, whereas, bipolar disorder is associated with both episodes of depressive mood along with manic or hypomanic mood. These mood changes can also be seen in patients with mental health illnesses such as schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Depression can be further divided into seasonal affective disorder in which patients are depressed seasonally (fall to spring time) when there are less hours of daylight. Dysthymic disorder or persistent depressive disorder is another form of chronic major depressive disorder, which is a mild form of depression and that has lasted for 2 or more years. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is seen in women before the onset of menstruation whereas disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is a depressive disorder seen in children less than 18 years of age. Postpartum depression is seen in women after childbirth due to biological and emotional changes in the body. Depression can also be related to substance abuse, medications and alcohol use.

Bipolar disorder can be divided into bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder. Bipolar I disorder is associated with mania with no signs and symptoms of depression. However, bipolar II is associated with episodes of both hypomania alternating with episodes of depression, either past or current. Cyclothymic disorder is yet another form of bipolar disorder, which is a less severe form of bipolar disorder, but a chronic form of it (history of minimum 2 year of episodes of hypomania or depression).

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