Mood and Anxiety Disorders

The National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) reports 21.4% of American adults and 14.3% of teens between the ages of 13 and 18 experience a mood disorder of some in their lifetime. NIMH also reports 31.1% of American adults and 31.9% of adolescents experienced any anxiety disorder.

Most people have days when they have mood swings or anxiety. One day you may feel happy, and the next, you may feel sad or anxious for no reason. Or, you may have a good reason to feel sad and worried, like if you’ve lost something or someone important, have a huge project to complete, argued with a friend, or need to prepare for a speech in front of hundreds of strangers. 

Not all anxiety is bad. For example, if you encounter a dangerous situation, fear and anxiety can safely help you escape the situation.

It’s when the feelings of depression or anxiety persist for weeks and begin to interfere with how you function daily at work, home, school, and socially.

It’s essential to understand the definition, categories, risk factors, and symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders so you know when to consider exploring the benefits of anxiety treatment.

What Are Mood and Anxiety Disorders?

Mood disorders develop when changes in your mood disrupt your life. Anxiety disorders occur when feelings of worry, fear, and anxiety interfere with daily functioning.

Mood and anxiety disorders serve as umbrellas for more specific diagnoses

The most common depressive disorders:

  • Major depression can cause physical aches and pains, mental anguish, feeling sad, and a lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed. You may also feel fatigued and have body aches and pains.
  • Bipolar disorder is mood swings that range from depressive lows to manic highs.
  • Postpartum depression happens to women who have recently given birth. They feel a mix of emotions that can be overwhelming. Symptoms usually subside with the baby’s first year.
  • Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that occurs at the same time each year. For many, it is during the winter months when there is less sunshine available.

The most common anxiety disorders: 

  • Generalized anxiety disorder refers to ongoing or chronic worry, stress, restlessness, and inability to concentrate that have begun to interfere with daily functioning.
  • Panic disorder occurs with a sudden feeling of fear, terror, and loss of control when there is no real danger.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder may develop after experiencing a traumatic event. Nightmares, flashbacks, being easily startled, and intrusive memories are common.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder involves thoughts and behaviors. Intrusive thoughts enter the mind, influencing you to behave compulsively. For some, they cannot move forward with their day until the compulsions are satisfied.
  • Social phobia is the most common of hundreds of phobias, making you feel an intense yet irrational fear of everyday social interactions. 

Society is making significant progress in reducing the stigma related to mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. However, some people claim to have the diseases without truly understanding them and without an accurate diagnosis. 

While anyone can develop a mood or anxiety disorder, risk factors make some people more susceptible than others.

Who Gets Mood and Anxiety Disorders?

It is impossible to look at someone and determine if they will experience depression or anxiety disorders. Multiple factors contribute to mental health. If you have these risk factors, you may have a higher chance of developing a mood or anxiety disorder.

Risk factors for both disorders include:

  • Genetics and family history of mental health disorders.
  • Environmental stress like living with someone who has an alcohol use disorder or past traumatic experiences like war combat, sexual or physical abuse, surviving a tragedy, etc.
  • Drug or alcohol misuse.
  • Brain chemistry and an imbalance of neurotransmitters like serotonin.
  • Medical conditions can produce symptoms of mood or anxiety disorders. For example, thyroid disease is known to cause depression.
  • Medications that have side effects of depression, anxiety, or mania.
  • Previous history of mental illness.
  • Low self-esteem or conditions that cause low self-esteem, like codependency.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.

Again, there are no guarantees of who will or will not develop a mental health disorder. The symptoms that appear and for how long they have persisted determine if a diagnosis is warranted.

What Are the Symptoms of Mood and Anxiety Disorders?

Some symptoms will overlap in mood and anxiety disorders, but the two conditions are pretty distinguishable for the most part.

Mood and anxiety disorder symptoms can be psychological, physical, or both. A comparison is below.

Mood disorder symptoms include sadness and feeling blue, hopelessness, shame, or guilt. Your moods may swing between feeling depressed and not wanting to get out of bed to hyperactive and manic, not wanting to sleep for days. Other symptoms include fatigue, change in appetite, difficulty concentrating, and trouble putting in an effort at work, home, and socially.

Anxiety disorder symptoms can include feeling dread, panic, and fear. You may also feel restless, have sleep disturbances, avoid places or people, and be unable to stop thinking, talking, and worrying about a problem over and over again.

Other common anxiety symptoms are sweaty, clammy hands, shortness of breath, racing heart, tense muscles, and pacing or rocking back and forth.

Treatment for both mood and anxiety disorders exists so you can control your symptoms and get back to engaging in your life.

What Are Treatment Options?

A thorough assessment performed by a mental health specialist, like a psychiatrist or licensed therapist, determines the best treatment methods. Based on your results, you may find a combination of therapies is best.

Many people take anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications to control overwhelming symptoms at the beginning of their treatment program. Medication combined with individual therapy or group counseling gives you the chance to learn coping skills to help you deal with symptoms appropriately. Peer support groups, family therapy, and alternative therapies like mindfulness and stress management are beneficial. Ketamine therapy should be considered for cases of depression, anxiety, and trauma that have not responded to traditional medication treatment.

If you feel like you have symptoms of either a mood or anxiety disorder, call us. We can help.