Treating Mood Disorders

When left untreated, mood disorders can result in serious injury or death due to suicide or dangerous behaviors that can occur during extreme depressive or manic states. Despite the seriousness of these conditions, the vast majority of individuals with mood disorders who seek help are able to find treatments that work, enabling them to lead full, happy, and productive lives.

Key Components of Treatment
Effective treatments for mood disorders can help individuals reach personal goals, build on their existing strengths, develop a person-centered wellness plan, and live life without the interference of symptoms. Relief of symptoms is only the first step to treating depression or bipolar disorder. A good treatment plan allows individuals to choose what wellness means to them and lead the best possible life they can.

Key components of a good treatment plan often include a combination of the following:

  • medications and/or technological treatments
  • talk therapy
  • support groups
  • support from family and friends
  • lifestyle changes

Finding the Right Treatment
Finding the right treatment for mood disorders can be tricky. Every individual may react differently to different medications and therapists. Medications can take 4 to 6 weeks to take effect, and the dosages and types of medication may need to be adjusted or changed before the individual can benefit. Some mood disorders may be resistant to treatment; in such cases, technological treatments could offer help.

One common reason that a condition may be resisting treatment is inaccurate diagnosis. Because many people with bipolar disorder seek treatment during depressive episodes, they may be inaccurately diagnosed with unipolar depression, which usually means they’re not getting the right treatment. Incorrect treatment for bipolar disorder can make symptoms of the condition worse. Individuals should be sure to ask questions, such as whether they have the right diagnosis, and if there is something different or additional that individuals and their families can do to foster wellness.

Learn about what you can do to support someone with depression or bipolar disorder.

The National Institute of Mental Health is a good source for information.