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HomeCo-occurring Disorders

Mood-related Disorders

Mood disorders include major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder. These mood disorders share some common symptoms:

  • Slowness in motor behavior/speech
  • Slowed thought processes
  • Blunted emotions
  • Poor grooming
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Weight loss/gain
  • Early morning awakening
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Low self-esteem
  • Agitation

In addition, each of these disorders affects a person in different ways. A fact sheet in PDF format detailing symptoms, causes, and treatment for each of these disorders is available.

Major depression

A person with major depression feels intensely sad, worthless, hopeless, and helpless for prolonged periods of time, surpassing the normal ups and downs of everyday life. Depression is not just "feeling blue" or just "having a bad day."

Symptoms include:

  • persistently sad or irritable mood
  • pronounced changes in sleep, appetite, and energy
  • difficulty thinking, concentrating, and remembering
  • physical slowing or agitation
  • recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • lack of interest in or pleasure from activities that were once enjoyed; feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, or emptiness
  • persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
Download a fact sheet about depression (PDF)


Dysthymia is a low-grade depression. Some of the symptoms may be similar to major depression, but not as severe.

People with dysthymia may feel that it's normal to always feel depressed. As far as they know, they've always been this way, and they just carry on with their lives - not feeling good about themselves, often getting irritable and angry, and having appetite and sleeping problems. These symptoms generally don't interfere with their day-to-day functioning.

Symptoms include:

  • Long-term feelings of hopelessness, sadness, pessimism
  • Extreme fatigue, feeling too physically drained to complete even small tasks
  • Indecisiveness
  • Feeling worthless, guilty, or constant self-criticism
  • Unable to concentrate or focus
  • Irritable and easily frustrated
  • Trouble sleeping or oversleeping
Download a fact sheet about dysthymia (PDF)

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings ranging from mania or extreme happiness, grandiosity, euphoria or irritability, or decreased need for sleep. Typically a person with bipolar disorder cycles from one extreme to the other while experiencing periods with few or no symptoms in between.

Bipolar disorder is not simply having mood swings. Typically, bipolar disorder involves dramatic shifts not only in mood but in overall outlook, behavior, and energy level.

The cycles of bipolar disorder include depression, mania and what is referred to as a "mixed state."

The manic symptoms of bipolar disorder include:

  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Racing thoughts
  • Distractibility
  • Increase in goal-directed activities
  • More talkative then usual or more pressured speech
  • Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that often are self-defeating
Download a fact sheet about bipolar disorder (PDF)

Also of interest

Types of disorders
Other mental illnesses found in co-occurring disorders include:

Effective treatment
Co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders need to be treated at the same time.

Peer support and other resources
Peer support groups, advocacy groups, and public policy agencies can help you and your clients learn more about co-occurring disorders.

Frequently asked questions
Find answers to frequently asked questions about co-occurring disorders.

An effective, integrated
treatment program


The Co-occurring Disorders Program is the first comprehensive treatment program for people with non-severe mental health disorders that co-occur with substance use disorders. Learn more

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