Mood Disorders

According to the National Institutes of Health, emotional disorders in adults, “An estimated 9.7% of U.S. adults had any mood disorder in the past year. Past year prevalence of any mood disorder among adults was higher for females (11.6%) than for males (7.7%).” The official manual of psychiatric disorders lists six different types of mood disorders, placing anxiety in a separate category. In traditional Chinese medicine, classification, diagnosis, and treatment for mood disorders are different from their western counterparts, but these two methods work well together as well as alone. In many cases, due to great variation in the causes of mood disorders as well as personal reactions, individual evaluation is needed to know how effective natural treatment may be.

What Are the Different Types of Mood Disorders?

The fifth edition of the main sourcebook for mental health practitioners and provides the exhaustive list of mood disorders and mental disorders and their classifications, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), distinguishes Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia), and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (Parker, 2014). The previous edition of the manual did not have the category of Cyclothymic Disorder, considering it to be a part of the bipolar spectrum, but as one group of researchers pointed out, “Current evidence indicates that cyclothymic disorder is a prevalent and highly impairing disorder on the bipolar spectrum, with the potential to make unique contributions to our understanding of the risk factors and outcomes associated with bipolar disorder” (Van Meter, Youngstrom, & Findling, 2012). 

In traditional Chinese medicine, mood disorders fall into one or more of the categories of 5 souls or spirits: Hun (non-corporeal), Po (animation), Zhi (will), Yi (intellect), Shen (connector spirit). Each of these souls resides in a specific organ: Hun is in the Liver, Po is in the Lung, Zhi is in the Lungs, Yi is in the Spleen, and Shen is in the Heart (Aung, Fay, & Hobbs, 2013). 

What Are the Symptoms of a Mood Disorder?

The first three categories of mood disorders types on the list—Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, and Cyclothymic Disorder—belong to the bipolar spectrum, which essentially is psychological highs and lows, while the other three are restricted by the psychological lows (depressive mood disorders) (although, Bipolar II Disorder has more frequent depressive fluctuations). Generally speaking, we all are sometimes angry, sad, frustrated, unsure of ourselves, and so on—emotional experiences are a large portion of what life is about—but when these mood fluctuations become too volatile, too extreme, or become too persistent, this is when we may experience symptoms of a mood disorder. 

In traditional Chinese medicine, the classification of mood disorders is somewhat similar to that of western medicine, with a major difference in that whenever a specific soul is disturbed, then the mental symptoms are accompanied by the signs and symptoms of soul’s associated organ, which are important in diagnosing the mood disorder for acupuncturists and practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine. 

What are the causes of mood disorders?

The causes of mood disorders can be genetic, stress- or injury-related, nutritional, consequences of substance abuse, as well as unknown. The causes of mood disorders can also come from other disorders, and from the traditional Chinese point of view, it is crucial, because the approach to the treatment of an individual mood disorder is to identify the affected organ. From both perspectives, western and traditional Chinese medicine’s, it’s important to know what causes mood disorders, because that knowledge can help to regulate the mood disorder on an individual basis, such as changes in nutrition or lifestyle, so the patient can find ways to improve or at least to avoid exacerbating his or her condition.  

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