Mood disorders is a broad term that encompasses two major, and distinct, types of mood related issues–Major Depression and Bipolar Disorder. Treatment for these two types of mood disorders is very different (in terms of medications and options for therapy).
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M DEPRESSED?
Clinical depression is not the same as fleeting sadness or unhappiness. But if this sadness or apathy continues for a few weeks and impacts your ability to get the things you need to get done in life, then depression may be the cause.
Depression occurs on a spectrum. Major depression is where depressive symptoms impact your quality of life and make it difficult to take care of things in life such as: going to school, going to work, and enjoying time with friends and family. Another form of depression called Dysthymia, is in which one experiences a few symptoms of depression, but for a really long period of time. Many individuals struggling with Dysthymia talk about feeling like “life is gray” and “just can’t seem to enjoy life”.
HOW IS DEPRESSION TREATED?
There are many excellent, proven treatments for depression. There are several types of therapy such as, Cognitive Behavior therapy (CBT), which focuses on changing negative thinking and behaviors that may be contributing to your depression, and Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT), which looks at how you interact with your thoughts and emotions, and how to strengthen and focus on strengths in your life. Treatment is dependent on your goals, your type of depression, and the severity. Unfortunately, untreated depression can lead to future episodes of depression that more chronic and severe in nature.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I STRUGGLE WITH BIPOLAR DISORDERS?
There are different subtypes of Bipolar Disorders depending on the severity of the illness. Individuals struggling with bipolar disorders all experience periods of depression, but the severity of the mood elevation determines which subtype you may struggle with.
Everyone experiences periods of happiness and joy, but an individual struggling with bipolar disorders may experience extreme happiness, to the point of elation or extreme irritability, without a specific cause and this feeling may go on for at least days at a time. This elation is often coupled with biological changes in one’s sleep, concentration/attention, and judgement. It’s during times of mood elevation, which can last from a few hours to days or weeks on end, that can impact one’s ability to work or maintain relationships. Sometimes, individuals may act in an impulsive manner and this can impact their finances, relationships, or well-being.
It is crucial that an individual be correctly assessed by a provider with extensive training and experience in treating bipolar disorders. Dr. Nam has specialized training from her time in the Bipolar Disorders clinic at Stanford, doctoral research training in the treatment of bipolar disorders, and fellowship training from Stanford University in the treatment of bipolar disorders.
HOW IS BIPOLAR DISORDERS TREATED?
The gold standard for bipolar disorders treatment is both therapy and medications. The types of therapy that have been proven to be effective are psychoeducation for the individual and their family members, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Depending on one’s current mood state and goals, there are many different options for treatment.