Depression Bipolar Support Alliance - New York State
Depression Bipolar Support Alliance - New York State

About Mood Disorders

The majority of people with mood disorders are able to find treatments that work. Talk therapy, medication or a combination of both help the person feel better and change situations in their life that may be contributing to their illnesses (substance abuse, bad relationships, etc.).  

Depression and bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) are both highly treatable medical illnesses. Unfortunately many people do not get the help they need because misunderstanding the issues surrounding the illnesses or the fear associated with stigma. The following are brief descriptions of depression and bipolar disorder. For more in depth information be sure to see our pages on depression and bipolar disorder.


Depression: It's Not Just In Your Head
Everyone, at various times in life, feels sad or blue.  It's normal to feel sad on occasion.  Sometimes this sadness comes from things that happen in your life: you move to a different city and leave friends behind, you lose your job or a loved one dies.  But what's the difference between "normal" feelings of sadness and the feelings caused by clinical depression?

How intense the mood is:  Depression is more intense than a simple bad mood.

How long the mood lasts:  A bad mood is usually gone in a few days, but depression lasts for two weeks or longer.

How much it interferes with your life:  A bad mood does not keep you from going to work or school or spending time with friends.  Depression can keep you from doing these things and may even make it difficult to get out of bed.

While it's normal for people to experience ups and downs during their lives, those who have clinical depression experience specific symptoms daily for two weeks or more, making it difficult to function at work, at school, or in relationships. 

Clinical depression is a treatable illness marked by changes in mood, thought and behavior. That's why it's called a mood disorder.

People of all ages, races, ethnic groups, and social classes have depression. Although it can occur at any age, the illness often develops between the ages of 25 and 44. The lifetime prevalence of depression is 24 percent for women; for men, it's 15 percent. 


Bipolar Disorder: More than a Mood Swing
Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is a treatable illness marked by extreme changes in mood, thought, energy and behavior. It is known as bipolar disorder because a person's mood can alternate between the "poles" of mania (high, elevated mood) and depression (low, depressed mood). This change in the mood or "mood swing" can last for hours, days, weeks or even months. These "highs" and "lows" are frequently seasonal. Many people who have bipolar disorder report feeling symptoms of depression more often in the winter and symptoms of mania more often in the spring.

Bipolar disorder affects more than two million adult Americans. Like depression and other serious illnesses, bipolar disorder can also adversely affect spouses, family members, friends, and people in the workplace. It usually begins in late adolescence (often appearing as depression during teen years) although it can start in early childhood or as late as the 40s and 50s. An equal number of men and women develop this illness and it is found among all races, ethnic groups and social classes. The illness tends to run in families. 

Mood disorders are treatable

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