Mood Disorder Glossary

Manic episode: The “up” side of bipolar disorder; a period of high, energetic or irritable mood that interferes with life. (symptoms on page 8 )

Hypomanic episode: Similar to a manic episode, but less severe. It is clearly different from a non-depressed mood with an obvious change in behavior that is unusual or out-of-character.

Major depressive episode: A period of prolonged sadness that interferes with life.

Mixed state (also called mixed mania): A period during which symptoms of a manic and a depressive episode are present at the same time.

Dysthymia: A milder form of depression characterized by changes in eating or sleeping patterns, and a “down,” irritable, or self-critical mood that is present more of the time than not. People with dysthymia may say they are “just that way,” or “have always been that way.”

Cyclothymia: A milder form of bipolar disorder characterized by alternating hypomanic episodes and less severe episodes of depression. The severity of this illness may change over time.

Rapid cycling: A characteristic of bipolar disorder that occurs when a person has four or more manic, hypomanic, mixed or depressive episodes within a 12-month period. For many people, rapid cycling is temporary.

What is the difference between a mood disorder and ordinary mood swings?

  • Intensity: Mood swings that come with a mood
  • Length: A bad mood is usually gone in a few days, Even if moods go quickly from high to low, the person does not usually return to a stable mood for a long period of time.
  • Interference with life: Mood disorders can cause get out of bed or causing a person to go for days without sleep or spend money he or she does not have.

Content Provided by Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Website