Mood disorders refer to a category of mental health problems that include all types of depression and bipolar disorder. Mood disorders are sometimes also called as affective disorders. One of the proposed theories for the causation of these disorders is related to imbalance of chemical substances released in the brain, called neurotransmitters. In addition, environmental factors, e.g. change in the weather(in case of Seasonal Affective Disorder), biological influences (in case of Postpartum Depression) or stressful events in life such as difficult relationship, divorce, losing a loved one, losing a job, etc. can bring on feelings of sadness and lead to a mood disorder or its maintenance. Since a change in mood or emotional feelings is the most prominent symptom of mood disorders, let us try and understand the basis of emotion and mood.
What Is Emotion And Mood?
The concept of mood is actually very complex and difficult to understand. People have been attempting to understand this phenomenon for thousands of years, and the process is nowhere close to being completely understood. There are various theories put forward by scientists.
Emotion could be understood is an instantaneous perception of a feeling. According to one theory, an event causes physiological arousal first and then we interpret this arousal.
Imagine you are walking on a lonely road in the dark and suddenly sense someone following you. You begin to tremble and your heart beats faster. You then experience fear. So it would seem that emotions are related to quick-moving reactions.
Mood on the other hand, is considered as a group of persisting feelings, which influence all the future thoughts, feelings and actions. Mood exerts effects on feelings states and can last hours or days.
How Do We Feel These Emotions?
Release of certain chemicals known as ‘neurotransmitters’, play a key role in the control of mood and emotional behavior. The following table describes the effect of some important neurotransmitters that have a role in our mental health.
Table 1: Important Neurotransmitters