Psychology Study Material: Major Categories of Disorders: Mood Disorders

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Major Categories of Disorders in DSM-IV-TR

Mood Disorders

Psychological and affective disturbances characterized by emotional extremes that are enough to produce troubles in daily living.

Mood Disorders

The emotional response is disturbed and so strong that it disturbs everyday living.

Mood disorders mainly include:

  • Major depression
  • Mania
  • Bipolar disorder

Major Depression

  • Previously known as “melancholia”
  • Major depression is a severe form of depression.
  • Common form of mood disorders
  • A disorder characterized by lack of concentration, decision- making, sociability, withdrawal from others,
  • and a feeling of worthlessness and inadequacy.
  • Depression is labelled as depressive disorder when it persists for long and hampers daily life.

Symptoms include

  • Concentration problems,
  • Irritability and restlessness,
  • Persistent sadness, anxious and empty mood
  • Fatigue,
  • Appetite changes
  • Feeling of agitation
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Hopelessness and pessimism
  • Loss of interest in activities, which are pleasurable
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Causes include

  • Hereditary cause,
  • Stress,
  • Chemical imbalances in the brain; the sufferer however has the belief that it is a medical illness rather than a psychological one
  • Most commonly occurs in people with low self- esteem
  • Women are twice as likely to develop major depression as men.
  • Learning experiences may contribute to the development of depression
  • Serious loss in business or some other disaster,
  • Relationship problems, financial setbacks etc

Treatment includes

  • Use of medication,
  • Psychotherapy,
  • Behavioural therapy


  • Mania is the opposite state of depression.
  • It is an extended state of intense wild elation.

Bipolar Disorder

  • Bipolar disorder is a combination of depression and mania.
  • The sufferer alternates between periods of extreme euphoria and elation i.e.. , mania, and bouts of depression.
  • Side Effects of Mood Disorders
  • The height of elation may lead to high creative output, although it does not ensure high quality of the creative output.
  • The manics are often reckless and end up with self-injury.


  • Psychodynamic explanation: Feeling of loss that can be real or potential.
  • Hereditary factor: These disorders appear to be running in families.
  • The role of neurotransmitters: Serotonin and nor epinephrine have been found to be related to these disorders.
  • Alterations in the level of these chemicals have a role to play in mood disorders.
  • Behavioural explanation: Lack of, or reduction in, positive reinforcement leads to mood disorders.
  • Cognitive explanation: the sufferers of depression believe that they are life՚s losers; they are failures, inadequate, and not meant to be the ‘winners’ in life. They have a pessimistic view of life.
  • Evolutionary psychology explanation: Considering the impact of the genetic factors, it states that depression is an adaptive response to unattainable goals.