Affective Disorders

Affective Disorders

An affective disorder is a group of mood disorders that include depression, bipolar disorder, and other related disorders. Affective disorders affect the way people feel and can cause significant changes in behavior and functioning. Affective disorders can be disabling, leading to difficulties in daily functioning, including difficulty at work or school, problems with family or friends, and possibly even suicidal thoughts or behavior.

Signs and Symptoms of Affective Disorders

Many people with affective disorders experience symptoms of depression, such as persistent low mood, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, changes in sleep patterns, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities otherwise enjoyed.

Those with bipolar disorder experience symptoms of depression, but also experience episodes of elevated mood, or mania, which can include grandiose thoughts, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, increased energy and hyperactivity, irritable mood, and increased risk-taking.

Common Types of Affective Disorders

Some of the more common types of affective disorders include:

  • Major depressive disorder: A disabling disorder characterized by persistent low mood, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and difficulty functioning normally.
  • Bipolar disorder: A disorder characterized by extreme shifts in mood, from mania, to hypomania, to depression.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): A type of depression that typically appears during the fall/winter months when days are shorter and darker.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD): A type of depression that typically appears in women during the weeks leading up to their period.
  • Postpartum depression: A type of depression that occurs in some women after childbirth.
  • Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia): A milder but more long-lasting form of depression.
  • Psychotic depression: A type of depression with psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions.

Treatment for Affective Disorders

Treatment for affective disorders typically includes psychotherapy and antidepressant medications. Treatment may also include lifestyle changes to promote overall wellbeing, including getting enough sleep, eating healthfully, and exercising regularly.