About mood disorders
Mood disorders affect about 10% of the population. Everyone experiences "highs" and "lows" in life, but people with mood disorders experience them with greater intensity and for longer periods of time than most people.
Depression is the most common mood disorder; a person with depression feels "very low." We all go through ups and downs in our mood. Sadness is a normal reaction to life's struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word "depression" to explain these kinds of feelings, but clinical depression is much more than just sadness. Some people describe depression as "living in a black hole" or having a feeling of impending doom. However, some depressed people don't feel sad at all - instead, they feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic. Depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief. Symptoms may include: feelings of hopelessness, changes in eating patterns, disturbed sleep, constant tiredness, an inability to have fun, and thoughts of death or suicide. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, three to four million men are affected by depression; it affects twice as many women.
Dysthymic Disorder is a chronic condition characterized by depressive symptoms that occur for most of the day, more days than not, for at least 2 years. Symptoms can develop in young adulthood and cause difficulties in living.