Defining and Understanding Mood Disorders

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  • 0:07 Mood Disorders
  • 0:54 Unipolar vs. Bipolar
  • 3:05 Views
  • 5:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

When someone has abnormal feelings that affect his or her life, he or she might be suffering from a mood disorder. In this lesson, we'll look closer at the types of mood disorders and the different theoretical views of them.

Mood Disorders

There's something wrong with Eva. Sometimes, she feels like she can conquer the world. She's energetic and social, and her mind moves at a mile a minute. She'll go for weeks at a time without sleep, but never feel tired. But other times, she feels exhausted and sad. She doesn't want to talk to her friends or do things that she usually likes to do. She doesn't even really feel like getting out of bed. It's like the entire world is pressing down on her.

Eva is suffering from a mood disorder, also called affective disorder, which is a psychological disorder that involves abnormal or exaggerated feelings. Let's look at the two main types of mood disorders and two common views of mood disorders.

Unipolar vs. Bipolar

Eva's mood swings back and forth between two extremes. On one end of the spectrum, she feels extremely happy, energized, and full of life. At the other end, she feels sad, depressed, and exhausted. When a person with a mood disorder swings between depression and mania, they have bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic depression. Think of bipolar disorder like the cycle between night and day. The depression part is like night. Eva is tired. She's sad. She's not interested in anything. On the other hand, the mania part of bipolar disorder is like day. She's energized, ambitious, and excited.

Of course, the cycles between mania and depression last longer than a day; usually, a full cycle of mania and depression lasts months or even years. In each full cycle, there is one manic phase, one depressive phase, and possibly a phase that is neither manic nor depressive but where Eva feels close to normal. So Eva has bipolar disorder, but imagine for a minute that she never felt manic. What if she only ever felt sad, exhausted, and uninterested in the world around her?

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