Out-of-control moods aren’t just difficult to be around – they’re a potential sign of a serious underlying mental health condition. There are a variety of emotional disorders with a range of symptoms, but all can benefit from professional treatment.
You are worried about someone you love. Their moods are increasingly unpredictable, and they are frequently irritable, depressed and upset. You’ve been trying to figure out what’s behind it, but most of the time the cause of their moodiness isn’t clear. It is becoming such a problem that it’s beginning to create distance in your relationship. Could this be a symptom of an emotional disorder?
Emotional disorders are a type of psychological disorder that involve emotional reactions which are inappropriate or out of proportion to their actual cause. These can also be called “mood disorders” or “affective disorders,” and cover a range of different mental health conditions. Understanding what emotional disorders are – and are not – can help you in supporting someone who may be struggling with one of these conditions.
What Are Emotional Disorders?
Emotional disorders cover a range of mental health conditions that affect moods and emotional responses. These include disorders such as:
Bipolar disorders are characterised by periods of depression, mania or both. Some people living with a bipolar disorder will experience cycling through these states, moving from mania to depression or vice versa. Episodes of depression are often marked by symptoms like feeling sad or empty, brain fog, exhaustion, irritability, lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities, and in severe cases, suicidal ideation. Common signs of a manic period include increased energy, tendency towards risky behaviours, quickened speech, racing thoughts, overconfidence, and a reduced need for sleep or rest.
Major Depressive Disorder
Also known as clinical depression, major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental health conditions. While the main symptom tends to be an overriding feeling of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness, many people with major depressive disorder experience other symptoms such as fatigue, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, loss of motivation, and an inability to focus.
Emotional Attachment Disorder
This disorder primarily presents itself as a challenge in relating to other people, including in understanding and responding appropriately to others’ feelings, trusting others, and showing affection. Depending on the nature of the emotional attachment disorder, symptoms can vary between emotional outbursts to being emotionless, being obsessive in relationships to being unusually distant, and being overly needy to being untrusting and isolated.
Emotional and Behavioral Disorder
Often used to describe this type of disorder in children, emotional and behavioral disorders involve persistent difficulties in managing emotions and controlling behaviours. Signs of this type of disorder include persistent, disruptive and intense emotions and behaviours that exist in all settings, such as at school, home, and the playground.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia, is a less severe form of chronic depression that is significant enough to negatively impact people’s daily lives, relationships and self-esteem. This disorder is characterised by its consistency; while people with major depressive disorder will experience periods of severe, acute depression that are generally followed by periods of relief from these symptoms. Dysthymia, on the other hand, is a constant feeling of low mood and exhaustion that can last for months or years.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
When depression coincides with changes in the seasons, this is known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Typically symptoms of depression arise during colder and darker times of the year, such as fall and winter, but some people begin to experience them at the onset of spring or summer months. Symptoms generally start out mild, but may increase in severity as the season goes on.
Perinatal depression includes symptoms of depression experienced during pregnancy, after pregnancy, or during both periods. Women with this condition may experience severe anxiety, mood swings, extreme sadness, and fatigue. While hormonal changes can contribute to the development of this disorder, like other mental health conditions, genetic and environmental influences are also key factors.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
This severe form of premenstrual syndrome can cause significant emotional and physical distress, with symptoms like extreme fatigue, irritability, anger, moodiness, insomnia and difficulty concentrating, as well as respiratory, eye, gastrointestinal, skin and neurologic problems. Symptoms generally start approximately a week before menstruation, and continue for several days after it begins.
What Aren’t Considered Emotional Disorders?
Not all mental health conditions that involve moodiness are emotional disorders. For example, though post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause significant shifts in mood in addition to other symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks and persistent negative thoughts, PTSD is not considered to be an emotional disorder. Similarly, while those with an anxiety disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) may experience troubled emotions as a result of their symptoms, these are also not emotional disorders. However, these conditions may involve emotional dysregulation, or an inability to control emotions.
What is Emotional Dysregulation?
Emotional dysregulation occurs when there is an unrestrained emotional response that falls outside of what is generally acceptable. This can manifest in a variety of ways, such as outbursts of rage, severe anxiety, suicidal ideation, and other self-damaging thoughts and behaviours. Emotional dysregulation can be related to certain mental health conditions, but can also stem from childhood abuse or neglect, as well as traumatic brain injury.
I Think Someone I Love May Have an Emotional Disorder…What Should I Do?
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with symptoms of an emotional disorder, or are experiencing emotional dysregulation related to another mental health condition, it is important to reach out to a mental health professional for an assessment. Speaking with a specialist can help you begin to understand what is at the root of troubled emotions, and if necessary, to develop a treatment plan.
How are Emotional Disorders Treated?
Emotional disorders tend to benefit from a holistic treatment approach that uses a variety of methods to help manage symptoms and better overall quality of life. Possible treatment modalities may include:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – CBT involves identifying, examining and altering established patterns of thought to help better balance emotions and improve overall outlook
- Wellness practices – this can include stress-relievers like yoga, meditation, and regular exercise, as well as relaxation breathing techniques
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) – this non-invasive treatment that helps gently stimulate nerve cells may also be effective in reducing symptoms, particularly those related to depression
- Medication – depending on the diagnosis, medication may also be prescribed together with other treatment methods to help alleviate symptoms and balance moods
While finding the right type of treatment combination may be challenging at first, a mental health specialist can help guide you through the process until you discover what works for you. With treatment and support, many people with emotional disorders are able to live full and happy lives.
Professional, Compassionate Treatment for Emotional Disorders at The Dawn
At The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab Thailand, we offer a unique, holistic approach to mental health and addiction treatment. Our Twin Pillars programme has been specially designed to help our clients gain a deeper understanding of their symptoms and learn skills to manage their condition.
Emotional Disorder Treatment in Thailand
Located on the outskirts of the beautiful city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, The Dawn’s tranquil riverfront location, surrounded by picturesque rice fields and traditional Thai villages, immediately transports you into an oasis of calm completely removing you from all your stressors – the people, places and things in your daily life that contribute to your condition.
Internationally accredited by the American Accreditation Commission International (AACI), The Dawn offers a carefully cultivated mix of the latest psychotherapeutic techniques, cutting-edge technology and scientifically-proven wellness practices to ensure holistic healing and instill healthy coping skills.
Call us today to learn more about how we can help support you as you bring your life back into balance.