There are many types of mood disorders, ranging from anxiety to depression. Medical and alternative treatments can improve the quality of life for patients.
Types of Mood Disorders
Mood disorders can be caused by a variety of sources, from life events to genetics to brain chemistry. Endorphins, which are regulated by neurotransmitters, are in charge of positive moods. A chemical imbalance could cause a disorder such as depression, for example. Genetics and environment are thought to play a strong role in affective disorders. Feeling anxious, sad, or depressed may be a normal reaction to life events. Death, divorce, job loss, and other factors can contribute to these types of moods. These feelings become a disorder when they are prolonged and interfere with daily living. Major depression is “a two-week period of a depressed mood”, whereas dysthymic disorder is more of a low-grade and chronic depression or “irritable mood for at least two years”. Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, demonstrates “at least one period of a manic…mood” combined with depression. Certain medical conditions (cancer, infection, injury, etc.) as well as substance abuse (medication side-effects, drug abuse, toxins), can trigger a mood disorder. Mood disorder symptoms might include persistent sadness, low self-esteem, guilt, suicidal thoughts, relationship difficulties, sleep disturbances, low energy, physical complaints (headache, fatigue, and stomachache), irritability, and aggression. Early intervention can reduce symptom severity. Various medical treatment options are available, such as antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, and electroconvulsive therapy.1
Medications and Natural Alternatives
There are prescriptions available to treat mood disorders. Lithium, Abilify, and Depakote are used in bipolar disorder, and benzodiazepines (i.e., Klonopin, Librium, Valium, Xanax) are sedatives. There are also antidepressants (Celexa, Cymbalta, Effexor, Imipramine, Lexapro, Paxil, Pristiq, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Zoloft) and antipsychotics (i.e., Latuda, Prolixin) that can be prescribed.2 All of these medications have side effects. Lithium, for example, can affect appetite, cause digestive problems, it can lead to dry mouth, weight gain, acne, hair loss, joint pain, muscle pain, rash, and even depression.3 With Latuda, patients may have sleep and restlessness issues, as well as nausea, elevated blood sugar, and sensitivity to temperatures.4 Some of the side effects of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) antidepressants are loss of sex drive, insomnia, anxiety, and bone loss in the elderly. More seriously, teens and young adults may be at a higher risk of suicide.5 There are some natural supplements that might have potential in mood disorders, including St. John’s Wort, SAMe, valerian, lavender, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and vitamin D (especially for seasonal affective disorder or SAD).6 Other natural mood stabilizers are ginseng, DMG, 5-HTP, L-threonine, GABA, R-Alpha Lipoic Acid, Passion Flower, Winter Cherry, and Arctic Root.7
Massage therapy has been found in some studies to be useful to patients with various mood disorders and brain chemistry imbalances. In one study, students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) received massage therapy sessions. In just one month of twice-weekly (20 minute) sessions, the students had improved “short-term mood state and longer-term classroom behavior”.8 Women with breast cancer, in another study, were shown to have improved mood after receiving massage therapy. They also had reduced fatigue and discomfort.9 Massage therapy can also be helpful in treating bipolar disorder, as long as the patient is in stable condition and not manic. Massage reduces stress and improves relaxation.10 For patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), therapeutic massage could reduce anxiety. Breaking down toxins can also have a calming effect.11
Find out how chiropractic can help with mood disorders.