Mood Disorders: a major disturbance in “mood” or “emotion,” such as “depression” or “mania.” (Coon, 537) Disorders that affect the emotional state of those suffering from them. (Cardwell, 154)

Characterized by extreme emotions. (Bamford, 10/25/10) Serious, persistent disturbances in a person’s emotions that cause psychological discomfort, impair the ability to function, or both. (Hockenbury, 520) Also referred to as ‘affective disorders.’


Bipolar Disorder: a mood disorder which has symptoms of both mania and depression. (Cardwell, 35) Involves periods of incapacitating depression alternating with periods of extreme “euphoria” and excitement. (Hockenbury, 523) Characterized by severe mood swings. Individuals experience depression, then experience mania, never seeming to be able to achieve an emotional stability or balance. (Bamford, 10/25/10) A formal diagnosis is made if the symptoms are severe enough to cause a serious impairment of functioning or to require hospitalization, and if the client shows evidence of elaborate or irritable mood. (Cardwell, 35) Affects 1% of the population. LIfetime risk is 0.5% to 1.0% Many "gene"  "variants" contribute, but only a few such variants are seen in any one family. Studies of the genes behind bipolar disorder suggest as much as 10% of the "genome" is part of the picture! (Lewis, 157) Formerly referred to as ‘manic depression.’

Manic Episode: short period of extreme "euphoria." During a manic episode, people are uncharacteristically euphoric, expansive, and excited for several days or longer. Although they sleep very little, they have boundless energy. The person’s self-esteem is wildly inflated, and it exudes supreme self-confidence. (Hockenbury, 523) During the manic episode, the individual may not require sleep, may become extremely talkative, and may develop plans that are exaggerated and over-ambitious. (Bamford, 10/25/10)

Rapid Cycling: experiencing four or more manic or depressive episodes every year. Displayed by a small percentage of people with bipolar disorder. (Hockenbury, 523)

Cyclothymic Disorder: moderate manic and depressive behavior. (Coon, 559) Characterized by moderate but frequent mood swings that are not severe enough to qualify as bipolar disorder. (Hockenbury, 523)

Dysthymic Disorder: chronic, low-grade feelings of depression that produce subjective discomfort but do not seriously impair the ability to function. Characterized by many of the symptoms of depression, but the symptoms are less intense. (Hockenbury, 520-521) Moderate depression that persists for 2 years or more. (Coon, 559)

Major Depression: a mood disorder characterized by extreme and persistent feelings of “despondency,” worthlessness, and hopelessness, causing impaired emotional, cognitive, behavior, and physical function. (Hockenbury, 520) A mood disorder in which the person has suffered one or more intense episodes of depression. (Coon, 559) A state of despondency marked by feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness. (Coon, 513) Characterized by intense sadness. Depressed individuals often withdraw, sleep excessively, and lose pleasure in activities that were previously pleasurable. Sometimes severely depressed individuals become suicidal. (Bamford, 10/25/10) The person experiences feelings of great sadness, worthlessness and guilt, and finds the challenges of life overwhelming. The most widespread of the mental disorders, affecting about 1 in 20 people. The average age at which it is first diagnosed (in the U.S.) is between 40 and 50, and it is more common in women than men. Formal diagnosis requires five of the following symptoms, including either depressed mood or loss of interest and pleasure, be displayed for two weeks or longer: sad, depressed mood; loss of interest and pleasure in usual activities; difficulties in sleeping; shift in activity level, becoming either lethargic or agitated; poor appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain; loss of energy and great fatigue; negative "self-concept," feelings of worthlessness and guilt; difficulty in concentrating, slowed thinking and indecisiveness; recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. (Cardwell, 72-73) Also referred to as ‘unipolar disorder’ and ‘major depressive disorder.’

Maternity Blues: a brief and relatively mild state of depression often experienced by mothers 2 or 3 days after giving birth. (Coon, 561)

Postpartum Depression: a mild to moderately severe depression that begins within 3 months following childbirth. Characterized by mood swings, despondency, feelings of inadequacy, and an inability to cope with the new baby. (Coon, 561)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): a mood disorder in which episodes of depression typically occur during the fall and winter, when there is the least amount of sunlight, and subside during the spring and summer. More common among women and among people who live in the northern latitudes. (Hockenbury 522-523)