The mood and anxiety disorders: A helpful Q&A

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KKnowledge is like good food. Sometimes you just can’t get enough. There is so much to learn when it comes to mood and anxiety disorders. This is why it is important to eat helpful bites even when you are not hungry. And in the end they often taste great. Let’s get to our questions and answers …

When my mood and anxiety disorders surfaced decades ago, I tapped every resource I could to learn what was happening to me. Still doing. It’s interesting that I often come across the most helpful information when I’m not really looking. You may feel the same way when you finish reading this piece.

I added “A Quick Q&A” to my new eBook, 27 Rays of Hope: From 50 Years of Living with Depression & Anxiety, which will be available soon. I’m going to give you a little glimpse into the Q&A, though I can’t bring you everything – too long for an article.

Even so, you may come across something appetizing that you didn’t know was on the menu.

Let’s dig in …

What are mood and anxiety disorders?

Mood swings

Affective disorder involves, well, mood. Awesome, isn’t it? So what’s the vibe? Simply a longer-term state of emotional quality, usually caused by non-specific events.

You may have come across the term affect. Although in the same forest, mood and affect are not synonymous. Affect is a short-term expression of an emotional state, usually caused by certain events. Let us continue with this: mood is the climate, affect is the weather.

When it comes to mood disorders, we talk about life-interrupting ups, downs, and both.

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), here are the big mood disorders. They can be found in two categories: Depressive Disorders and Bipolar and Related Disorders …

  • depression
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Bipolar I disorder
  • Bipolar II disorder
  • Cyclothymic disorder

Remember that there are different types and identifiers. Substance-related and disease-related causes must also be taken into account.

Anxiety disorders

An anxiety disorder includes, yes, life-interrupting anxiety. In my game, right? And what is fear? It’s just an overwhelming feeling of concern and fear. This is often accompanied by physical signs, questions about the reality of the threat and doubts about being able to deal with what one believes to be able to deal with.

According to DSM-5, here are the major anxiety disorders …

  • Agoraphobia
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Specific phobia

Just like with mood disorders, there are variations that need to be considered. The induced substance and the medical condition are also factors.

You may be looking for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The DSM-5 gave it a category of its own: Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and Related Disorders. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been shifted into Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders.

Are the causes of mood and anxiety disorders biological or psychological?

Okay, the question of nature vs. care. Hey, cause (etiology) is getting more and more scientific attention, so much remains to be determined. And that means we only have to deal with theory and speculation. Still, I believe we are dealing with biology and psychology – individually and collectively.

“That naturally raises all sorts of questions. Does one inevitably lead to the other? How do biology and psychology actually interact? What’s the exact mix between the two? Here too, who really knows. Plus, there are so many variations from case to case. So instead of using the term “cause”, we think of “contributors” or “trigger”.

Mood and anxiety disorders run in families

The Mood and Anxiety Disorders: A Helpful Q&A

Now that we have that sorted out, let’s spend a little time doing something known as the diathesis stress model. I think you will find it interesting. We begin with the definition of diathesis: a constitutional disposition to a particular condition or condition, especially an abnormal or diseased one.

The diathesis stress model is therefore a psychological theory that tries to explain a disorder or its course through an interaction between a predispositional susceptibility (diathesis) and a stressor that disturbs psychological equilibrium.

The diathesis can have genetic, psychological, biological, or situational factors. If the combination of predisposition and stressor (s) exceeds a certain threshold, the person in our chat will develop a mood or anxiety disorder.

Do families have mood and anxiety disorders?

Yes. Major depression and anxiety disorders are inherited in the range of 20-45%. Bipolar disorder is 75%. Knowing these numbers is important in diagnosing and understanding mood and anxiety disorders. But then we go straight back to the nature vs. care discussion, right?

What is temperament and is it a factor in mood and anxiety disorders?

Yes, temperament is a big factor in mood and anxiety disorder. But what is it Temperament is that part of us – behavioral, emotional, and more – that is independent of learning. We could say it is the “we” – a portion of personality – that is on board when we enter this world. In fact, temperament is one of those diatheses that we just talked about.

Hans Eysenck, a 20th century psychologist whose main interest was temperament, believed it was genetic and physiologically based. Eysenck discovered what he called dimensions – super factors – of temperament. One of them, neuroticism, is just right for us.

According to Eysenck, someone with a neurotic temperament can be “normal” and fairly calm and collected; however, they can also tend to be nervous (“neurosis” at that time). And of course, nervous types are more likely to be diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder.

Eysenck got caught up in phenomena like extraversion-introversion. And he put a lot of emphasis on how our brains balance arousal and inhibition. According to Eysenck, arousal is waking up the brain and putting it into a waking and learning mode. Inhibition is the brain calming down, relaxing, and falling asleep, or protecting itself in the face of overwhelming stimulation. Their interaction is often a tricky balancing act for us. Think about it, can you remember moments of arousal / inhibition conflict? Sure I can.

Eysenck went further and examined the interaction of neuroticism and extraversion-introversion and how they create various psychological problems. Fascinating stuff if you ever want to get a taste of it.

Hey, suffice it to say that temperament is an important factor in the development and persistence of mood and anxiety disorders. I mean we are. Does this make sense?

Do drugs really work for mood and anxiety disorders?

Medicines have the potential to help us with mood or anxiety disorders. For some, they are lifesavers. Still, results can be disappointing and expectation can be a factor. For example, many people believe that antidepressant therapy will quickly get rid of their depression or anxiety. Not only can it take six to eight weeks to show positive results, but expected positive results may never materialize. Just one of the problems is that the person is taking the wrong medication. Hell, there are six Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants – and that’s just one class. Great, then it’s about finding the right one – if you have one.

Bottom line: Using medication to treat a mood or anxiety disorder is often a breeze. But do I think drugs are worth trying? Yes. And what’s worth it, I’ve learned over the years that if you’re on medication, you should be in therapy. A combination of medication and therapy works best.

Does the therapy really work for mood and anxiety disorders?

You knew this was coming, didn’t you? Yes, therapy can be of great help in treating a mood or anxiety disorder. But let’s keep several factors in mind. Therapy will fail if the person is unwilling to accept their circumstances and work hard to seek relief.

And then there is the therapeutic alliance. If there is no trusting “click” between the individual and the therapist, the results may be questionable. After all, the correct form of therapy must be used and the therapist must be trained and experienced in it.

Incidentally, the therapy doesn’t have to last forever, even if we are taking medication. It is a personal decision that is best made in consultation with the therapist and / or psychiatrist.

Keep learning

Well, that’s enough for our questions and answers. Lots of information to absorb, but eating a few helpful bites anytime you want is a good thing. And if you’re still hungry, there are plenty of ways to grab a quick bite.

Learn more …

Speaking of places to have a quick bite (or two), you’re headed to one right now. Go ahead, check out the inspire4u menu.

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