The diagnosis of a mood disorder, such as Major Depressive Disorder, can have a devastating effect on patients and their families. Fortunately, understanding the theories, symptoms and treatments behind the disorder can assist patients in recovery to full functioning. One might say that the most difficult step in recovery from mood disorders is the first step, which is recognizing that a disorder is a possibility and acknowledging that recovery is highly likely if diagnosis and treatment are sought. .
A mood disorder is a pattern of illness due to an abnormal mood. Nearly every patient who has a mood disorder experiences depression at some time. Many, but not all, mood disorders are diagnosed on the basis of a mood episode. Simply expressed, a mood episode refers to any period of time when a patient feels abnormally happy or sad. Mood episodes are the "building blocks" from which many of the codeable mood disorders are constructed. Most mood disorder patients will have one or more of these four types of episodes: Major Depressive, Manic, Mixed, and Hypomanic. Without additional information, none of these types of mood episodes is a codeable diagnosis. In Major Depressive Disorder, patients have no Manic or Hypomanic episodes, but have one or more Major Depressive Episodes. Major Depressive Disorder, otherwise known as depression, will be either Recurrent or Single Episode. Additionally, two specifiers are present in describing the Most Recent Episode in a Major Depressive Episode, which includes Atypical Features and Melancholic Features. A patient diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder with Atypical Features most often gains weight, sleeps excessively, and is often excessively sensitive to rejection. A patient diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder with Melancholic Features displays more of the "classical" symptoms of severe depression. These patients awaken early, have a loss of appetite and weight, feel guilty, and are either slowed down or agitated.