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Mood disorders

Understand mood disorders and the support that responds to them.

Mood disorders - definition and symptoms

Mood disorders – definition

Mood disorders are divided into three main types, the main characteristic of which is the disturbance of the subject’s mood:

  • depressive disorders: these include major depressive disorder as well as dysthymia (less severe, chronic depressive disorders, over an extended period of 2 years), and unspecified depressive disorder.


  • bipolar disorder: it includes type 1 and type 2 bipolar disorder. Type 1 corresponds to the occurrence of one or more manic or mixed episodes (mixed with depressive symptoms). Type 2 corresponds to the occurrence of one or more depressive episodes as well as at least one hypomanic episode (not meeting all the criteria for a manic episode).


  • disorders related to a medical condition or induced by a substance: this is a persistent change in mood which is the direct consequence of the consumption of a substance, or of a disease (Parkinson’s disease, hyper or hypo thyroid, endocrine disease, vitamin B12 deficiency…).


Symptoms of mood disorders

People with mood disorders may experience a variety of more or less intense physical and psychological symptoms. Certain signs can be very specific to bipolar disorder.
Physical symptoms are generally fatigue, lack of energy, sleep disturbances, neglected personal hygiene…
The psychological symptoms generally encountered by patients with mood disorders are depressed mood, deep distress, loss of enthusiasm for activities once considered pleasant, or suicidal thoughts.

Mood disorders - key figures and data

There are few figures available for all mood disorders. However, we know that bipolar disorder affects 1 to 2.5% of the French population, or 650,000 to 1,650,000 people. These disorders generally appear between 15 and 25 years of age and have a strong impact on the quality of life of patients. According to the WHO, the subjects concerned see their life expectancy reduced by 10 years, and this, because of the high risk of seeing these disorders lead to multiple suicide attempts.

Mood disorders - the causes

Mood disorders rarely have a single cause. Rather, it is a combination of factors such as:

  • heredity

  • excessive use of psychoactive substances

  • certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis or cancer

Some mood disorders can also be induced by a previous episode of depression, which increases the patient’s risk of relapse.

What support for individuals suffering from mood disorders ?

Mood disorders are treated both through psychotherapy and drug treatment. Cognitive-behavioural therapies aim to modify the subject’s problematic thoughts and behaviours. Drug treatments are generally used to stabilize the mood of the subject. These are usually antidepressants or mood stabilizers that affect memory, emotions and concentration.