Is this a mood or mood disorder?

What’s the difference?


Anxiety. Sadness. Fear. These all are common emotions that we are familiar with and experience on a normal basis. But when does a common emotion transform to a disorder? That is a confusing question for many since the answer tends to exist in a gray area. Perhaps you’re feeling anxious because of an upcoming presentation but once the presentation is over the anxiety goes away. You coped with it and still accomplished your mission. Is that a disorder? Probably not.

When a counselor or therapist conducts an assessment the questions they often have in their mind are “does this emotion impact the person’s functioning? And is it consistent?” This is my approach to assessment as well. Feeling nervous but eventually getting through a presentation is an adaptive way of functioning. It caused some distress but the individual was able to cope and overcome, eventually the anxiety dispersed. For those that would be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder the anxiety would often stop that person from doing the presentation at all. The anxiety might also persist days before the presentation and after presentations are over. The emotion has to “get in the way” and consistently stop you from doing things you absolutely need to do. This is impact on functioning, and it is key for establishing someone’s problem as a disorder.

Keep this is mind if you are exploring therapy as an option. Though anyone can benefit from therapy, those with mood disorders should absolutely consider it strongly. If you have any questions regarding the difference between mood and mood disorder, leave a comment below. If you feel therapy is a consideration for you, contact us. Leave a comment if you have any other thoughts on the subject and as always, have a great day!

Daniel Badillo, LMHC

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