Bipolar, Depressive and Manic Disorders and Their Symptoms

Understanding Mood Disorders

Mood disorders come in all different types and affect people differently in certain situations. They are described as a group of mental health conditions characterized by persistent disturbance of mood, especially in the form of depression or euphoria (or another combination). No two mood disorders look the same and are affected by different personal factors, both internal and external.

People with mood disorders often describe their emotional experiences as pervasive or intense. They may even identify certain situations to be especially triggering for their disorder, which may cause them to avoid social activities.

Mood disorders may be triggered or caused by:

  • Childhood trauma or neglect
  • Substance use
  • Emotional, physical and sexual abuse
  • Constant stress
  • Stressful life events or change
  • Personality traits
  • Other mental health disorder
  • Previous medical conditions

Types of Mood Disorders

Bipolar Disorder (BPD)

Bipolar disorder is described as a mental health condition that causes intense changes in a person’s mood, varying between depressive and manic episodes. Depressive episodes are typically periods of low energy with symptoms like sadness, hopelessness, loss of motivation or disinterest in hobbies or social situations and anxiety. Manic episodes are typically periods of high-energy with symptoms of euphoria, impulsive behavior, hyperactivity, insomnia and weight loss or gain.

Episodes of depression or mania usually last days or weeks, interchangeably.


Cyclothymia is a mood disorder that causes emotional shifts but aren’t as intense as bipolar disorder episodes. It can still be difficult for those with cyclothymic disorder to deal with their feelings and unpredictable changes in their mental wellbeing. Cyclothymic disorder may cause symptoms like mood swings that cause bouts of high or low energy. Symptoms may become more intense or pronounced over time.


Hypomania is a mental health condition that causes high energy and hyperactivity. A person experiencing hypomanic symptoms may display feelings of being invincible, rapid speech, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, excitability or euphoria. Hypomanic episodes may cause a person to portray extreme happiness or elation.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder is a mental health issue diagnosed in those who are persistently feeling low mood and experiencing loss of interest in their usual activities. Major depression may cause symptoms like fatigue, low or depressed mood, changes in appetite and weight, insomnia or hypersomnia and general discontent.

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is a condition that is commonly identified in children and teens, causing irritable moods, anger and frequent emotional outbursts. Symptoms of DMDD are severe and can cause issues in social situations, causing disciplinary action. Mood disorders in children may require further analysis and testing for proper diagnosis.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Also known as dysthymia, persistent depressive disorder causes long-lasting low moods that has become part of the individual’s daily experience. Usual symptoms of depression are present in dysthymia. Persistent depressive disorder can last for years at a time and is considered chronic.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Unlike typical premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a combination of physical and mental symptoms that occur before or during menstruation. Common symptoms consist of mood shifts, persistent irritability, extreme sadness, changes in appetite, fatigue and headaches.


Treatment plans for mood disorders are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Each person’s symptoms and personal needs will determine what might work best for them. Different forms of therapy techniques, medications, lifestyle changes and support groups may be considered.


Therapy can be a helpful tool in diagnosing and treating many mental health conditions. Not all therapeutic approaches are the same, and a mental health counselor can offer their recommendations on a case-by-case basis. Depending on a person’s diagnosis and personal needs, the following may be used:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – Talk therapy focused on changing negative thoughts and behaviors caused by psychological distress
  • Psychotherapy – General talk therapy for mental or behavioral disorders


For some, a proper treatment plan may require taking medication. Mood stabilizing and antidepressant medications may be considered. Side effects of medication may vary, and finding the right one may take some trial and error.

Lifestyle Changes

Implementing healthy habits can be the first step toward a more fulfilling experience for anyone. Although it may require discipline, there are easy, risk-free ways to lessen mental stress and emotional reactivity. Try creating and sticking to a daily routine, staying organized, minimizing excess stimuli when you need to focus and keeping your body active when possible.

Eating nutritious foods, practicing deep breathing techniques, exercising and learning your triggers and reactions can tremendously help cope with symptoms of mood disorders.

Support Groups

There are many different kinds of support groups and joining one can have many benefits. Support groups can be a comforting space for those who feel alone in their struggles with mental illness, such as mood disorders.

Being able to connect with others over a shared behavior or issue can help to lessen the burden and shame. In support group meetings, a person will learn healthy coping mechanisms and techniques to mitigate the intensity or frequency of their symptoms.