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Mood disorders are a group of illnesses that have as their distinguishing characteristic an experience of mood that is unusual for the circumstances. It is a very common cause of behavioural pattern in human beings.

Mood variations in accordance with the environment proportionally are normal but when behavioural patterns are disproportionate, they are called abnormal mood disorder.

“When a mood is too low, it is known as depression and when it is too high it is called mania. The fluctuation between too high and too low is called bipolar disorder. Exposure to exogenous individual factors such as negative stress, hostility, arrogance, vindictiveness, bigotry, anger, etc, may lead to exhaustion or low levels of serotonin, which is associated with depression. While the high levels of mood behaviour may lead to mania, a significant fluctuation in the level of serotonin may fluctuate the mood, depending on the chemical imbalance,” says Dr H K Chopra, senior consultant, medicine and cardiology, Moolchand Heart Hospital, New Delhi.

Mood disorders can be classified into unipolar and bipolar disorders. Where the fluctuation between too high and too low, it is called bipolar disorder. Unipolar mood disorder can be divided into:

Major disorder: This type of disorder results in acute depression, which leads to lack on enthusiasm, sadness, feeling of self worthlessness and guilt, insomnia, fatigue, etc. In extreme cases, a tendency of committing suicide is seen.

Dysthymia: It is characterised by a constant depressed mood for about two years. It is accompanied by some other symptoms such as an increase or decrease in eating, low self-esteem, fatigue or low energy, insomnia or increase in sleeping, feeling hopeless and difficulty in making decisions or concentrating. These symptoms are persistent, but less severe.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): It is a type of mood disorder that is characterised by the episodes of major depression, occurring at a particular time of the year (winter).

Postpartum depression: It is a major depressive episode, which occurs after having a baby. The depressive symptoms generally start within four weeks after giving birth to a baby. Some of the common symptoms are headache, exhaustion, a sense of inadequacy and crying. These symptoms may be accompanied by a constant fatigue, less interest in sex, a lack of joy in the life, severe mood swings, withdrawal from family and friends, insomnia and impaired concentration or thinking. The symptoms can vary in duration and intensity.

The balance in the behavioural pattern is possible by optimising of lifestyle with self-discipline, regulated daily routine such as exercise, daily walks, sports, meditation and practising of all eight limbs of yoga -- yama, niyama, asanas, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi -- meticulously may help in balancing the mood. Eating the right food at the right time and in right dosage and consumption of satvik food enhance mood balance. Tamsik food may distort the mood. Excessive smoking, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse may also be responsible for mood disorders. Therefore, perfection in the mindset is the key to have perfection in the mood. Following a meticulous lifestyle may reduce the requirement for mood stabilisation medication.

(Inputs by Dr H K Chopra)