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Although depression and bipolar disorder are the most common mood disorders in the world today, there are many other chronic mood-related illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder that can cause lasting difficulty in your life. There is, however, a glimmer of hope. If you can detect the symptoms and early warning signs of mood disorders, you can help curb them before they take hold of your life.

Are you, or a loved one, at risk for developing a mood disorder? At the least, chances are you know someone who suffers from a mood-related disorder. After all, a staggering20.9 million Americans currently suffer from mood disorders. In this guide, we go into detail by describing the various mood disorders, their symptoms, and how ketamine may be able to treat them.

Mood Disorders: What Are They?

According to John Hopkins Medicine, a mood disorder is defined as “a mental health class that health professionals use to broadly describe all styles of depression and bipolar disorders.” Therefore, all disorders and diseases that fall along the depression and bipolar spectrum are classified as mood disorders.

There are four broad categories of mood disorders. No one category or type of mood disorder is necessarily any more severe or disabling than any other. The most common types of mood disorders are:

  • Major depression
  • Dysthymia
  • Substance-induced Mood Disorder
  • arrow-rightBipolar Disorder

In the following sections, we will walk through each of the mood disorders listed above. In addition, we will discuss their symptoms, prevalence rates, and treatment options.

Major Depression

Major depression is the most common mood disorder in the world. It is characterized by a persistent lack of interest in usual activities, feelings of helplessness, sadness, and despair. Symptoms must persist for a minimum of two weeks to indicate major depressive disorder (MDD). Otherwise, these symptoms may be a sign of low mood or a depressive episode.

Sometimes,major depressive disorder is referred to as “unipolar depression.” This is because unipolar depression is distinct from bipolar depression, which involves a high and low period in which the subject experiences elation punctuated by harsh low mood. By contrast, unipolar depression does not involve episodes of elation or mania.

Symptoms and Treatments

According to a review of an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, between 20 and 26 percent of American women cite experiencing major depression in their lifetime compared to only 8 to 12 percent of men. The median age for the onset of MDD is age 32, although major depression can be diagnosed at any age.

One of the reasons why major depression occurs in women more often than men is because this mood disordertends to co-occur with other illnesses. For example, women sometimes experience postpartum depression after pregnancy. Particularly severe incidences of postpartum depression can lead to major depression.

Fortunately, four out of five patients with major depressive disorder report seeing improvement after seeking treatment for six weeks. Psychotherapy, pharmaceutical intervention, and, more recently, ketamine infusion therapy, have all been proven effective in reversing the effects of MDD.


Dysthymia is a chronic irritable mood

Dysthymia is a chronic irritable mood or low-grade depression that persists over the span of multiple years. As a psychiatric illness, dysthymia closely resembles depression regarding its cognitive and physical symptoms. However, dysthymia is generally regarded as a less severe mood disorder than depression, although longer lasting.

As a mood disorder, dysthymia was first identified by psychiatrists in the 1970s as a form of “depressive personality”. It was characterized by its less acute nature than clinical depression. In other words, dysthymia is defined by a long and persistent “low” mood and regular irritability.

Symptoms and Treatments

It can sometimes be difficult to tell apart someone living with dysthymia from someone who is generally moody. Ultimately, the subjective experience of the patient will determine the extent to which they identify with the disease. The primary symptoms of dysthymia are a prolonged depressed mood, the absence of mania, altered appetite, fatigue, and low self-esteem.

It is important to note that dysthymia is set apart from other mood disorders due to its specific time requirements. To be diagnosed with dysthymia, a patient needs to exhibit depressive symptoms for no less than two years and must experience depression continually with no breaks exceeding two months in length.

Most dysthymia sufferers will seek treatment for the stress associated with the mood disorder before they seek treatment for the depressive symptoms. Psychotherapy has been shown to be effective in treating dysthymia. However, therapy is often most effective when used in conjunction with medications such as SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants.

Substance-Induced Mood Disorder

Substance-induced mood disorder (SIMD) closely resembles major depression and dysthymia. However, it is characterized by its being brought about due to using alcohol, drugs, or medications. Normally, healthy individuals will feel transient feelings of sadness throughout their lives. Those with SIMD, however, usually feel these emotions during the hangover or “crash” that follows their substance use.

You can identify SIMD by the low mood symptoms and feelings of depression that arise after taking drugs, alcohol, or medication. If you regularly feel negative emotions after taking psychoactive substances, or if you compensate for these effects by taking more substances, you need to seek treatment for SIMD.

Ketamine for Mood Disorders

Mood disorders such as major depression, dysthymia, and SIMD can be treated with ketamine infusion therapy. According to Pam Harrison of Medscape, physicians can safely and effectively administer the anesthetic ketamine to treat mood disorder sufferers or those suffering from chronic pain.

Although ketamine has not yet received formal approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), dozens of licensed clinics have opened across the United States that offer ketamine infusion therapy. Ketamine infusion therapy is a promising new treatment that takes less than an hour to administer while providing lasting and powerful alleviation.

For more information about using ketamine for mood disorders, we recommend inquiring about ketamine treatment at your local ketamine infusion clinic. A directory of US ketamine providers can be found on the Ketamine Advocacy Network website.