Who We Are Can We Help What's Happening Get Involved FAQ
Who We Are Can We Help What's Happening Volunteer for Research FAQ
     
What's Wrong   

Information About Mood & Anxiety

MOOD DISORDERS

ANXIETY DISORDERS

If you are in an immediate serious crisis please contact your doctor or go to your local hospital or emergency room.


MOOD DISORDERS

DEPRESSIVE DISORDERS

What is a depressive disorder?


Depression is not just a state of mind it’s a state of the brain as well. It is an imbalance of chemicals that carry signals in your brain to affect how you feel, think and act. Research has shown that there are disruptions in brain function in depressive disorders.

Some symptoms of depressive disorders include:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Loss of ability to experience enjoyment
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness
  • Changes in energy level
  • Poor concentration that began recently
  • Sad or numb feelings much of the time
  • Appetite changes
  • Agitation or slowing of movements
  • Suicidal thoughts or plans

What causes a depressive disorder?


There are a number of predisposing factors of depressive symptoms, including:

  • Altered health habits; substance use (including marijuana and/or alcohol)
  • Family history of mood disorder (genetic predisposition)
  • Hormonal changes of adolescence
  • Stress (e.g. losing your job, relationship problems)
  • Physical illness and/or other psychological disorders
  • Traumatic experience (e.g. car accident, loss of loved one, childhood exposure to violence or mistreatment)

What conditions are depressive symptoms associated with?

Major Depressive Disorder (Unipolar)


Someone with Major Depressive Disorder has experienced depressive symptoms (listed above) that interfere with normal functioning for longer than two weeks.

Dysthymic Disorder


    Dysthymic Disorder is when some one has “the blues” for a long period of time, such as more days than not for several years. These symptoms are generally less severe than with Major Depressive Disorder, but they still interfere with daily life and cause distress.

How do professionals treat a depressive disorder?


Since the cause of depression varies, no single treatment works for everyone. However, there are a variety of options that can greatly improve the symptoms. Antidepressant medications, certain types of psychotherapy (talk therapy), or a combination of both are used in the treatment of depressive symptoms

The main types of medications that are used for depressive symptoms include:

  1. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
  2. Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRSs)
  3. Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)
  4. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
  5. Medications that work on the dopamine system
  6. Mood stabilizers and other medications to help response

These medications help to regulate brain chemicals to better levels to treat the symptoms experienced by someone with depression.

Various non-medical treatments are also available, known as psychotherapy. These are conducted with the help of a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, addictions councilor, or other trained specialist. These forms of therapies focus on helping someone by talking and expressing their thoughts and feelings in order to gain insight and make modifications in thinking and behavior. Such work can also help improve relationships with friends, family and others. Psychotherapy is not the same as counseling. Psychotherapy is more intensive and requires several years of training for the professional to become skilled to help.

Other non-medication treatments for depressive disorders include:

  1. Light therapy using a light box
  2. Regular exercise

Back to top

 

BIPOLAR DISORDER

What is Bipolar Disorder?


Bipolar disorder is a recurring, episodic disorder that used to be called “manic depression” because a person’s mood can alternate between mania (highs) and depression (lows). The changes in mood can be sudden or occur over the course of several days to weeks. Typically, there are 3 to 5 high periods during a year and often more low periods. Bipolar disorder often appears as depression during the teen years, although it can also start in early childhood or much later in life. When not properly treated, people suffering with this disorder may experience problems in various areas of their lives due to the severe shifts in moods. Research shows that there are disruptions in brain function in bipolar disorder.

The symptoms of the “lows” experienced in bipolar disorder are the same as those of
Major Depressive Disorder (listed above). The symptoms of the “highs” experienced in bipolar disorder are categorized in two groups. For each group, the symptoms last for 4 days or longer.

What causes Bipolar Disorder?

Research has shown that Bipolar Disorder is somewhat more likely to be inherited through genes than is Major Depression with no mania. There are a number of predisposing factors for the onset of bipolar disorder symptoms, including:

  • Altered health habits; substance use (including marijuana and/or alcohol)
  • Family history of mood disorder (genetic predisposition)
  • Hormonal changes of adolescence
  • Stress (e.g. losing your job, relationship problems)
  • Physical illness and/or other psychological disorders
  • Traumatic experience (e.g. car accident, loss of loved one, childhood exposure to violence or mistreatment)

What is Euphoric Mania?

The first type of mania is called Euphoric Mania where someone feels "better than normal". Symptoms include:

  • Decreased need for sleep (not getting sleep and not getting tired either)
  • Impulsiveness, poor judgment, distractibility, reckless behavior (like spending money you don’t have or getting into sexual relationships too quickly, etc.)
  • Increased energy and starting many new projects (not necessarily finishing them)
  • Heightened mood, exaggerated optimism and self-confidence
  • Increased physical and mental activity and energy
  • Racing speech, racing thoughts
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
  • Delusions (believing something is true when it clearly isn’t)

What is Dysphoric Mania?

The second type of mania is called Dysphoric Mania where someone may feel "worse than normal". Some symptoms are the same as euphoric mania, but some are different. Symptoms include:

  • Low mood with exaggerated anger or agitation
  • Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior
  • Decreased need for sleep without experiencing tiredness
  • Impulsiveness, poor judgment, distractibility, reckless behavior
  • Racing speech, racing thoughts
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
  • Delusions (believing something is true when it clearly isn’t)

What is Hypomania?

Individuals can also experience “hypomania” which just means “a little mania.” An individual would still have the symptoms of euphoric or dysphoric mania, but the symptoms are not as disruptive or as severe as a “full-scale” manic episode. Most people who have a hypomania can still function in their daily activities. Full manias involve symptoms that are so severe that daily activities are disrupted.

What are Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorders?


Bipolar I is when a person has full manias that are either euthymic or dysthymic. Bipolar II is when a person has never had a full mania, but only a hypomania. So depressive symptoms may be severe but manic symptoms are less severe than in Bipolar I.

What is Cyclothymia?

Cyclothymic Disorder is when some one has “highs and lows” for a long period of time, such as more days than not for several years. These symptoms are generally less severe than with Bipolar Disorder, but they still interfere with daily life and cause distress.

How do professionals treat bipolar disorder?

Bipolar Disorder generally requires medication to reduce the symptoms. Such medications include:

  • Mood stabilizers
  • Atypical antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants if depression is not helped with the above medications

In addition, there is some research that shows that keeping regular daily activities helps to stabilize the mood in bipolar disorder. This means that the person should wake and go to sleep at the same time, eat at the same time, and get the same amount of exercise and social contact each day. Doing so will help the brain to regulate mood states to help reduce symptoms.

Avoiding substances of abuse is also extremely important in treating bipolar disorder.

If you are in an immediate serious crisis please contact your doctor or go to your local hospital or emergency room.


ANXIETY DISORDERS

What is an anxiety disorder?

These disorders cause excessive and irrational worrying. There are some physical symptoms as well, such as fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, irritability, sweating, or hot flashes. But the most problematic symptom that results from anxiety disorders is that the individual AVOIDS things that make them anxious, thereby restricting their lives more and more. Research has shown that, as with mood disorders, disrupted brain function accompanies these disorders. They involve biochemical changes or abnormalities in the brain.

What causes an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety disorders can be caused by a number of different factors, including:

  • Childhood environment –(researchers are exploring the impact of early childhood stress on adult anxiety problems)
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Learned behavior
  • Physical illnesses
  • Stress
  • Substance abuse
  • Medical conditions

Types of anxiety disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is chronic and it is when someone’s day is filled with exaggerated worry and tension about several areas of life. Sometimes the source of worry is hard to pinpoint. This worry causes physical problems like sleep difficulties, muscle tension, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, problems concentrating, and the like.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

An individual with OCD has unwanted intrusive thoughts and impulses that cause anxiety. As a way to relieve the anxiety for a short period of time certain repetitive behaviors can take place. These anxious thoughts often involve a theme of harm or danger such as:

  • Fear of Contamination
  • Fear of disorderliness
  • Fear of leaving something undone that may cause harm

Someone with OCD will feel a strong need to perform tasks over and over again to alleviate the anxiety. These repetitive behaviors occur so often they are life disrupting and quit distressing. Examples are:

  • Constant arranging, organizing
  • Excessive washing, cleaning
  • Repetitively checking, counting

Panic Disorder

A person with Panic Disorder experiences panic attacks. A panic attack is a period of intense fear and discomfort that often strikes “out of the blue”. Symptoms may include:

  • Choking sensations
  • Dizziness
  • Feelings of unreality
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Racing heart
  • Shortness of breath
  • Suddenly feeling like you’re going to die
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Trembling or shaking


As a result of the panic attacks, the person with panic disorder will avoid events or locations that they feel may cause a panic attack. Because of this avoidance people restrict their lives more and more. They may even find it impossible to leave their place of residence or their room. This is called “agoraphobia” and is a very disruptive part of panic disorder.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD can affect individuals who have survived a severe physical or emotional trauma, or have witnessed a traumatic event. Such events can be abuse, assault, rape, robbery and accidental or natural disasters. Symptoms of PTSD can include constantly replaying the event inside ones head or feeling like the event is happening all over again (flashbacks). Other symptoms include a feeling of emotional numbness. Someone experiencing PTSD may have intense anxiety about people, events and places that remind him/her of the event. Individuals with PTSD may experience depressive symptoms as well. For more information on PTSD, please contact the Trauma Program.

Social Phobia

Someone with social phobia is often overwhelmingly self-conscious, and has a lot of anxiety about being judged by others. Because of being concerned with how others may view them and of being publicly embarrassed in social situations they may avoid many social activities altogether. Again, this avoidance leads to restricted daily activity and causes life disruption as well as distress.

Specific Phobias

Specific Phobias involve an irrational fear of a specific object or situation that poses no real, immediate threat or danger (e.g. bridges, spiders, closed in spaces, needles or the sight of blood, etc.). Those with a specific phobia will avoid the source of their fear at all costs, thus limiting their life experiences so that they don’t have to encounter the feared objects.

How do professionals treat an anxiety disorder?

Effective treatments for anxiety disorders are available. Treatment often includes a combination of medication and specific types of psychotherapy. Research is yielding new, improved therapies that can help most people with anxiety disorders decrease or eliminate their symptoms.


What medications are used to treat anxiety disorders?

  1. Many medications that treat depression are effective for anxiety disorders as well. The usual first choice is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
  2. Other effective medications include the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
  3. Medications that may be prescribed are the “beta-blockers” and the “benzodiazepines”. Beta-blockers reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety such as perspiring, upset stomach and trembling, while benzodiazepines are very effective at reducing anxiety immediately. Unfortunately, the beta-blockers and benzodiazepines often have unpleasant side effects. For example, research has shown that the risk of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of a benzodiazepine is as hazardous as driving under the influence of alcohol.





Individuals pictured on the FEMAP website are models and are used only for illustrative purposes.

 

 

LHSCPatients, Families & Visitors

Last Updated October 23, 2013 | © 2007, LHSC, London Ontario Canada