Mood disorders
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Mood disorders

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  • Often it is a young person’s friends and family who will first notice that something isn’t quite right. There are some telltale signs that might indicate that a young person might be experiencing symptoms of a mood disorder. These include:
  • Dramatic loss of self esteem and belief in your ability to succeed.
  • A dramatic increase in anxiety levels, agitation and feelings of restlessness.
  • This can often lead to high levels of irritability and a hair trigger temper – with the smallest of incidents causing a angry outburst.
  • A young person experiencing a mood disorder may also find it difficult to make a decision – even about the smallest of things such as what to wear, what to eat, what to do after school – to the point where they may avoid any situation that requires them to make a decision.
  • The loss of joy or ability to enjoy or feel happy about anything is another indicator of a problem.
  • Loosing their sense of optimism or hope for what the future will bring can also indicate a mood disorder.
  • As these symptoms worsen you may find that the young person will withdraw from all of the activities that they use to enjoy, such as school, sports, social groups etc.
  • When they are suffering from a depressed mood they can experience severe bouts of crying that they cannot control.
  • Negative self talk will become increasingly problematic and no amount of persuasion from friends or family will be able to convince them of the positives in any situation.
  • Sleep problems and changes in sleep patterns are also a strong indicator of mood disorders. This can include not being able to sleep or insomnia or…
  • Falling into excessive sleep patterns and being reluctant to get out of bed. And no matter how long they sleep for they are still lethargic and tired.
  • Its important to remember that these signs are not a checklist, they are presented to help you understand some of the signs that may indicate there is an issue. If you or a friend or family member are experiencing one or more of the signs for a prolonged period of time (more than 2 weeks) and it is affecting your ability to undertake everyday activities then you need to seek help.
  • Because of the stigma attached to mental illness there is still a reluctance to talk about mood disorders in the community. However, you may be surprised at just how common mood disorders are.
  • Because may young people with a mood disorder withdraw from their friends and family when they first start to experience symptoms, it is often hard to know how many people are experiencing mental health problems. In fact mood disorders are far more common than you might think.
  • Research shows that up to one in five people will suffer depression in their lifetime. Many of these people will experience the initial onset of symptoms between the ages of 16 and 25 years.
  • Up to one in 20 people will experience some form of bipolar disorder in their lifetime, with many of these people experiencing symptoms for up to 15 years before they get professional help.
  • So what are the different types of mood disorders?
  • Depression is a mood state where there is a drop in self-esteem and sense of self-worth, where the individual feels ‘down’ and pessimistic and wants to give up, and feels others have given up on them too. It can be a ‘normal’ mood state (akin to sadness), a severe reaction to a difficult or stressful situation, or a disease state (such as melancholic, psychotic or bipolar depression). Types of depression The Black Dog Institute believes that there are three broadly different types of depression, each with their own features and causes: • Non‐melancholic depression • Melancholic depression • Psychotic depression. Melancholic depression is often known as biological depression as its causes are primarily physiological. Its defining features are: • a more severe depression (mood state) than is the case with non‐melancholic depression • psychomotor disturbance (usually showing as slowed or agitated physical movements and slowed cognitive processing abilities).   Melancholic depression is a relatively uncommon type of depression. It affects only 2-10 per cent of Western populations.
  • Melancholic depression is often related to genetic make up and can “run in the family”.
  • Psychotic depression is a less common type of depression than either melancholic or non‐melancholic depression. The defining features of psychotic depression are: an even more severely depressed mood than is the case with either melancholic or non‐melancholic depression more severe psychomotor disturbance than is the case with melancholic depression psychotic symptoms (either delusions or hallucinations, with delusions being more common) and strong guilt feelings.
  • Bipolar disorder is the name used to describe a set of 'mood swing' conditions, the most severe form of which used to be called 'manic depression'. The high moods are called mania or hypomania and the low mood is called bipolar depression . It is important to note that everyone has mood swings from time to time. Concern should be shown for a young person when these moods become extreme and interfere with everyday life.
  • Non‐melancholic depression essentially means that the depression is not primarily biological. Instead, it has to do with psycho-social causes, and is very often linked to stressful events in a person’s life and/or the individual’s personality style.   Non‐melancholic depression is the most common of the three types of depression. It affects one in four women and one in six men in the Western world over their lifetime. Non‐melancholic depression can be hard to accurately diagnose because it lacks the defining characteristics of the other two depressive types (namely psychomotor disturbance or psychotic features). Also in contrast to the other two depressive types, people with non‐melancholic depression can usually be cheered up to some degree.   People with non‐melancholic depression experience: a depressed mood for more than two weeks social impairment (for example, difficulty in dealing with work or relationships).  
  • In contrast to the other types of depression, non‐melancholic depression has a high rate of spontaneous remission . This is because it is often linked to personality traits and/or stressful events in a person’s life, which, when resolved, tend to see the depression also lifting.   Non‐melancholic depression responds well to different sorts of treatments (such as psychotherapies, antidepressants and counselling), but the treatment selected should respect the cause (e.g. stress, personality style).