Mood disorders

A mood disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood and thoughts. It affects the way a person feels about himself or herself, and even the way he or she eats, sleeps and thinks. Common mood disorders include clinical depression, seasonal affective disorder and bipolar disorder.

It’s important to remember that people with mood disorders, as with other mental illnesses, cannot “pull themselves together” and get better using willpower alone.

Clinical depression

People who suffer from clinical depression often feel sad, worthless and empty to the point of being unable to function. They lose interest in their usual activities, and experience a shift in appetite and energy levels.

A change in sleep patterns (eg, insomnia or excessive oversleeping) is also a symptom of clinical depression. In extreme cases, a depressed person has thoughts of death or suicide.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder, which is linked to reduced light in winter months, makes some people depressed. SAD is common and treatable through various forms of light therapy.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder, also called manic depression, is an illness marked by periods of serious depression followed by episodes of markedly elevated or irritable moods or highs (in the absence of drugs or alcohol). These mood swings are not necessarily related to events in a person’s life. Bipolar disorder affects approximately 1 per cent of the population, and affects men and women equally.