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Mood Disorder


Updated April 22, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

A mood disorder, also referred to as an affective disorder, is a condition impacting mood and related functions. In a mood disorder, moods range from extremely low (depressed) to extremely high or irritable (manic).

Mood disorders can lead to changes in sleeping and eating patterns. Some people, especially children, may have physical symptoms of depression, like unexplained headaches or stomachaches.

The classification of mood disorders includes the following disorders in children and adults:

Criteria for each mood disorder is described in the DSM-IV. Mood disorders in children may have slightly different diagnostic criteria as compared to adults.

For example, in childhood major depressive disorder, the requirement for a depressed or sad mood used in diagnosing depression in adults may be replaced by an irritable mood.

Mood disorders should be properly evaluated and treated by a trained professional.


American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2000.

Depression and Suicide in Children and Adolescents. Surgeon General's Health Report. Accessed: April 15, 2011. http://mentalhealth.about.com/library/sg/chapter3/blsec5.htm

Ralph E. Cash, PhD, NCSP, Katherine C. Cowan. Mood Disorders: What Parents and Teachers Should Know. NASP Communique, November 2006. 35(3).

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