Symptoms of mood disorder

Mood disorder symptoms

There are many types of mood disorder. Each affects the way you think, feel, and behave in a different way. This page explores the symptoms of six common mood disorders.

Mood disorders affect every person who has one differently. You may be affected by a mood disorder but not have every symptom.

If you have experienced the symptoms discussed, speak to your doctor. The doctor can help you get the right treatment to improve your mood.


If you are feeling low in mood for more than two weeks, you may have depression. Let’s explore how this mood disorder can affect your mind and body.

Psychological symptoms

Depression affects your emotional state. It may make you feel:

  • empty
  • numb
  • hopeless
  • sad
  • tearful
  • a burden
  • guilty
  • useless
  • irritated
  • frustrated
  • annoyed by others
  • alienated
  • isolated

These feelings may affect your daily life. You may:

  • stop you enjoying activities that used to bring you pleasure
  • find it hard to get out of bed each morning
  • avoid social activities or family get togethers
  • feel like things will never improve

You may also experience dark, intrusive thoughts. You might imagine hurting yourself. Or believe the world would be better without you.

Suicidal thoughts are distressing but they are not unusual. Many people with depression feel this way. These feelings do pass. With the right treatment, you will start to feel better.

If you feel unsafe call 999 or go to A&E for help. Or call the Samaritans on freephone 116 123. You could also contact your GP for an emergency appointment.

Physical symptoms

Depression affects your body too. It may make you:

  • unusually tired
  • unable to concentrate
  • find it hard to think clearly
  • eat more or less than usual
  • gain or lose weight
  • lose interest in sex
  • move more slowly
  • unable to sit still
  • speak more slowly or less clearly
  • less expressive, facially
  • have trouble sleeping
  • experience unexplained aches and pains
  • become constipated
  • drink more or smoke more

Bipolar disorder

If your mood shifts between low periods (depressive episodes) and high periods (manic episodes), you may have bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder also causes mixed episodes. This is where you have a combination of depressive and manic symptoms.

We discuss bipolar symptoms and behaviours below.

Psychological symptoms

Depressive and manic episodes have opposite effects on your mood. Let’s explore some common symptoms of each.

During a depressive episode you may feel:

  • hopeless
  • irritable
  • drained
  • unable to concentrate
  • empty
  • guilty
  • worthless
  • a burden
  • unwanted
  • that nothing is enjoyable
  • that things will never improve
  • that you have nothing to contribute
  • that the world is against you

You may also think about self-harm or suicide. If you feel unsafe call 999 or go to A&E for help. Or call the Samaritans on freephone 116 123. You could also contact your GP for an emergency appointment.

In contrast, during a manic episode you may feel:

  • full of energy
  • confident
  • sociable
  • desirable
  • euphoric
  • creative
  • full of ideas
  • like your thoughts are racing
  • that you can achieve anything
  • invincible
  • important

Excessive energy levels may mean that you are easily distracted. You might also get irritated frequently. People who can’t keep up with your pace may get on your nerves.

If you have a severe depressive or manic episode, you may develop symptoms of psychosis. This is where your thinking becomes disconnected from reality.

You may feel confused or paranoid. You might see or hear things that are not there. You may not realise you are unwell.

Anyone experiencing psychosis (or who notices signs of psychosis in a loved one) should speak to a doctor straight away.

Physical symptoms and behaviours

Depressive and manic episodes affect your body and behaviour, as well as the way you feel.

During a depressive episode you may:

  • eat more or less
  • gain or lose weight
  • move or speak more slowly
  • have a mask-like expression
  • sleep a lot but always feel tired
  • withdraw from friends and family

In contrast, during a manic episode you may:

  • need less sleep
  • eat less
  • lose weight
  • talk fast
  • be more active
  • spend more money
  • take more risks
  • have more sex
  • drink or smoke more

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

If your changes in mood are triggered the season, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). We explore how SAD may affect your mind and body below.

Psychological symptoms

If you have SAD, the winter months may make you feel:

  • constantly sad
  • irritable
  • drained
  • sleepy
  • a sense of dread
  • guilty
  • worthless

You may also lose enjoyment in activities that normally bring you pleasure.

Not everyone with SAD gets low in the winter. Some people with SAD experience the symptoms discussed during summer.

Physical symptoms

SAD may affect your body in the following ways:

  • you might crave and eat more carbohydrates
  • you may gain weight
  • you may sleep more
  • you might find it hard to get up in the morning

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

If your period severely impacts your emotional state the week before it starts, then you may have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). But how does PMDD affect your mind and body?

Psychological symptoms

PMDD can affect the way you think and feel about yourself. You may feel:

  • low in mood
  • hopeless
  • lacking in confidence
  • rejected by others
  • angry
  • like you don’t have control

Feeling this way may mean you find conflict harder to avoid or resolve. This could have a negative impact on your relationships.

Physical symptoms

PMDD can affect you physically too. You may notice the following symptoms:

  • tiredness
  • trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • hot flushes
  • muscle and joint pain
  • breast tenderness
  • bloating and cramping

Suicidal thoughts

If you have a mood disorder, you may experience suicidal thoughts. We discuss the signs of suicidal thinking below.

It is not always obvious that someone is having suicidal thoughts. But there are some things to look out for. Read on to learn how to recognise suicidal thinking in yourself and others.

Signs that someone is thinking about suicide include:

  • talking about death, suicide, or not wanting to exist
  • talking about being a burden
  • seeming extremely low and hopeless
  • suddenly becoming calm, like something is decided
  • speaking or moving slowly
  • not caring about appearance
  • sleeping or eating erratically
  • saying goodbye to people as if for the last time
  • giving away possessions
  • getting affairs in order
  • making a will
  • stockpiling medicine
  • driving recklessly
  • using drugs excessively

If you feel unsafe call 999 or go to A&E for help. Or call the Samaritans on freephone 116 123. You could also contact your GP for an emergency appointment.

Could you have a mood disorder? Complete a self-assessment for advice.

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