How to Recognize the Early Warning Signs of Mood Disorders

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Mood disorders are a class of mental health conditions that affect your emotional state. While it’s normal to feel all kinds of emotions depending on your situation, emotions triggered by a mood disorder don’t need to be logical or consistent with your circumstances.

Someone with a mood disorder experiences extreme emotional states. One moment they are excessively happy, and another, they are in deep sadness or anger.

Common Types of Mood Disorders

Mood disorders vary, with most sharing certain symptoms. However, they share one thing: they are a form of mental illness that disrupts your emotional state.

Here are the most common types of mood disorders:

Major Depressive Disorder

Depression is America’s most common mental illness, affecting about 17 million adults. It’s characterized by prolonged and persistent instances of sadness.


Also known as persistent depressive disorder, the condition is a lesser form of major depression, but it’s generally ongoing.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar is a mental illness that causes extreme mood shifts, ranging from episodes of depression to manic highs. There are different types of bipolar affecting approximately 2.9% of American adults.

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

DMDD is a mental disorder that causes severe and persistent irritability and temper outbursts in children and adolescents. The condition affects approximately 5% of American children and is known to cause developmental issues.

Things to Look Out For

Warning signs of mood disorders can quickly go unnoticed. But if you’re attuned to how you feel, you will know something is up before things get worse.

Here are signs of mood disorders to look out for:

1. Excessive Sadness

Some mood disorders like depression and bipolar can cause excessive sadness. If you feel like you’re in a deep state of sadness that you can’t find a way out of, you may suffer from a mental health problem.

The sadness that doesn’t have an apparent cause, which lasts a long time, also indicates a mood disorder.

Remember that sadness associated with mental illness tends to be accompanied by feelings of emptiness.

2. Prolonged Irritability

If you constantly feel on edge and irritable to the point that it’s interfering with your life, you may have developed a mood disorder. The kind of irritability, in this case, is irrational and can be on and off for a while.

Irritability may be accompanied by restlessness and agitation that can easily spin out of control.

3. Frequent Mood Swings

Rapid mood shifts that occur frequently are one of the primary signs of bipolar disorder, particularly if the mood swings range from a state of focus, happiness, and energy to a massive state of depression.

Other mood disorders may also cause mood swings because of the disrupted emotional state.

4. Risky Behavior

A pattern of risky or reckless behavior can be a sign of mental health problems. If you spend money impulsively or engage in daring and dangerous activities like self-harm or reckless driving, consider it a serious indicator of mental illness.

Like other warning signs we’ve listed, reckless behavior is associated with various forms of mental illness. Among mood disorders, different types of depression and DMDD often trigger recklessness.

5. Loss of Interest

If you’re experiencing reduced interest or complete loss of interest in activities you enjoyed previously, it could be a sign of mental illness, especially major depressive disorder.

6. Inability to Sleep

Sleeping too much or not at all could be a sign of depression. The inability to sleep at all is usually associated with bipolar disorder, especially during the manic phase.

Treatment for Mood Disorders

If you’re concerned that you may have a mood disorder, seek a proper diagnosis. Depending on the type of mood disorder, a psychiatrist will determine the most suitable treatment.

Antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy are usually part of treatment for mood disorders.

For those who can’t use antidepressants, perhaps due to the side effects, alternative remedies are encouraged to relieve severe symptoms.

Medical cannabis, for example, has become a popular alternative, and since Indica varieties can relieve depressive symptoms and uplift moods, you could try that avenue.


A mood disorder can be disruptive to your daily life, and since it’s a mental illness, you can’t wait for it to resolve on its own. Learn to recognize the warning signs and get help.

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