Mood disorders encompass a range of negative feelings and emotions, whether they are sustained feelings of apathy or come around in more noticable bouts of unease. It has been estimated that 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental disorder in their lifetime, with the most common being mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, substance abuse, or a combination of these. If you are experiencing overwhelming feelings of self doubt or worthlessness, it is important to know that it is couragous to seek help.
Please note: This page is for general informational purposes only. If you or a loved one are contemplating self harm or are at risk of harming others, please call 000 or seek other professional help immediately.
What are common mood disorders?
Depression – A prolonged feeling of worthlessness, indifference and inability to feel happy. Major depressive disorder (MDD) is categorised by depressive episodes; particularly low moods over a span of at least 2 weeks. Dysthymia is a diagnosis of a milder but more prolonged form of depression, where the depressive feelings can span over months and even years. People with dysthymia can also experience a major depressive episode, falling into the category of "double depression".
It is a myth that depressed people are always sad. In fact, the opposite can be true. People who are suffering from depression often are unable to feel significant emotion, and instead can be described as feeling lethargic, "down" and "blue'.
Bipolar disorder - Previously known as manic-depressive disorder, people with bipolar experience unexpected mood changes in the form of waves. Periods of "low" moods have symptoms similar to those with depression. At the highest point, moods are elated and can be described as euphoric, where often sufferers have unrealistic goals and expectations and in some cases find themselves in life threatening circumstances.
Anxiety disorders – Many people experience anxiety from time to time. It is the body's natural response to a stressor, to fire up the "fight or flight" response, often experienced before giving a presentation or going on a date. Under normal circumstances, anxiety and worry can be experienced in many forms, such as butterflies in the stomach, tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing. Anxiety in itself is not a disorder, but if the anxiety is experienced for prolonged periods of time, occurs without any warning, or for no obvious reason, it may indicate an anxiety disorder. Panic attacks can be very debilitating, especially when an onset can be felt in a public place, and fear of having another panic attack can cause the symptoms of anxiety to be exaggerated.
If you feel that you are experiencing a mood disorder, talk to your GP or healthcare professional about getting a referral to see a Clinical Psychologist for treatment.
Our clinical psychologist tailors a treatment plan suited individually to your needs, however a typical plan may look like this:
Structured | 10 sessions per year
Stage 1 | Assessment
This stage is mainly for you and the clinical psychologist to become comfortable with each other. At this stage, we will identify the presenting issues and try to delve deeper into what's going on.
Stage 2 | Intervention
For mood disorders, the most effective treatment (in combination with medication, in some cases) is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, also known as CBT. Once negative habits and beliefs have been identified, the Clinical Psychologist may begin cognitive restructuring exercises or behavioural activation to invoke more positive thought processes. Specifically for those suffering from phobias, the Clinical Psychologist may employ a technique known as Exposure Therapy, to gradually ease the anxiety experienced in response to the specific trigger.