How to Effectively Treat Affective Disorders

November 12, 2012

How to Effectively Treat Affective Disorders

Affective disorders, or mood disorders, are known to affect a person’s behaviors, feelings, and thoughts. Depression, for example, is a common and well-known affective disorder.

Common Types of Affective Disorders

Major Depressive Episodes Major depressive episodes are characterized by low or depressed moods, as well as various symptoms that affect a person’s sleeping habits, including appetite, interest, behavior and hedonic capacity. These episodes have numerous clinical forms. The first clinical form is melancholia, which is characterized by significant weight loss, anhedonia, and obvious motor disturbances. The second clinical form is a bit milder and is most evident in women: atypical depression. This clinical form is characterized by reverse symptoms, such as extreme weight gain, oversleeping, or overeating. Other common symptoms include panic attacks and phobias. The third clinical form is dysthimia, which comes with at least three symptoms a day for a couple of year. Dysthimia has been linked with neurotic and atypical traits in the past, and tends to begin quite early in life.

Manic Episodes

Manic episodes are characterized by irritable or euphoric moods, as well as the following symptoms: higher energy levels, activity levels, or confidence levels; risk-taking; poor judgment; and a lack of sleep. Around 50% of these episodes are deemed to be psychotic and are usually paranoid or grandiose in form.

The Causes

Various affective disorders tend to be seasonal and only happen during the fall or during the winter. However, some types may also exist because of general medications and medical illnesses that may affect the functions of the brain, like antihypertensives, steroids, stimulants, and hormonal therapies. Although some evidence shows that these disorders may be handed down through heredity, this simply cannot be the case when it comes to vulnerability. Instead, it is highly likely that several genes combined and amplified to distort the brain’s signals evoked by distress and stress.

The Treatment

The majority of ma

jor depressive episodes and dysthymia will respond to either antidepressant or psychotherapy medication, or even both. However, a lot of professionals now recommend new kinds of psychotherapy to treat affective disorders, as well, such as interpersonal therapy and cognitive behavior therapy. This is because they have proven to be more effective thus far. Plus, more studies have been done on them overall.

The most effective and most powerful treatment for affective disorders to date, though, would still be electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) – a carefully monitored and highly modified treatment that will help eliminate any problems with mood disorders.


Category: Articles