Mood Disorder Treatment in Ontario, Canada

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As well as anxiety disorders, mood disorders are common among the Canadian population.

Studies have shown that around three-quarters of Canadian citizens consulted mental health services due to an anxiety or mood disorder in 2016.

Canada, known for its artistic, culinary and political culture, has historically been ranked one of the most beautiful countries to visit, notably Ottawa and Quebec.

With this in mind, many may be surprised to learn that hidden beneath the majestic beauty and warm culture of the Canadian community is a mental health crisis where conditions such as anxiety and mood disorders are rife within various subsets of the population.

This article explores mood disorders, their symptoms and effective treatments that can help.

What are mood disorders?

Mood disorders, sometimes called affective disorders, are a group of mental health conditions that can cause various symptoms and complications for those experiencing them.

The most common mood disorders are bipolar disorder and depression, where a person may experience mild, moderate, to severe symptoms.

How a person experiences mood disorder symptoms will vary and may depend on multiple factors, including their history, genetics, and whether they have another physical or mental health condition.

Mood disorders can cause severe disruption to an individual’s daily functioning and quality of life. Fortunately, most people respond well to treatment which often includes a combination of psychotherapy and medication.

What’s the difference between emotion and mood?

If we look at the definition of ‘mood’, it differs from emotions which are usually temporary and fleeting.

Emotions are often short-lived and can be influenced by various factors, including our environment, stress, hormones, and other variables such as weather conditions and dietary changes.

Moods, on the other hand, are typically less intense than emotions, but can last a lot longer – from hours to days – and can be difficult to shake off. They are a state of mind and do not necessarily need a contextual stimulus, making it more difficult to identify the exact triggers. For example, most of us will have experienced waking up in a low mood from time to time, for no apparent reason, which can linger throughout the day.

It’s normal to experience mood changes occasionally; however, when a person has difficulty regulating their moods or experiences persistent negative emotions to the extreme, such as anger or rage, this may signify a mood disorder.

The different types of mood disorder

Mood disorders can cause long-term complications and impairment across various life outcomes if left untreated.

If you think you or a loved one might have a mood disorder, it can be helpful to understand the different mood disorder types and how these conditions present themselves – so you can seek the support and treatment you deserve.

Some of the most common mood disorders include:

Major depressive disorder

Treatment for depression at Centres for Health and Healing

Major depressive disorder is a prevalent mental health condition characterised by various physical, emotional and cognitive symptoms.

People with major depression may experience persistent periods of intense sadness and low mood. 

It can be challenging for those with the condition to express their feelings since many often cannot pinpoint the cause of their sadness or melancholy.

It’s common to experience profound sadness or grief when something terrible happens, such as the death of a loved one or other traumatic event. However, when these feelings persist long after the event or without any apparent reason, these symptoms may signify major or clinical depression.

The most common types of depression include the following:

  • Major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns (also called seasonal affective disorder or SAD)
  • Persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia (involves milder symptoms of depression that may last around two years)
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD) – also known as clinical depression. Symptoms of MDD include prolonged, long-lasting episodes of low mood, sadness, hopelessness, exhaustion and fatigue.

Bipolar I disorder

Bipolar I disorder is characterised by extreme emotional highs and lows that may persist for several weeks or longer.

The ‘high’ episodes a person experiences with bipolar I disorder are called ‘mania’, where the individual may exhibit a combination of emotions and behaviours, including increased energy or enthusiasm and/or severe agitation or irritable moods.

When an individual is in the mania phase, they may be more energetic, talkative, confident and enthusiastic than usual; they may also appear happier, self-focused, and easily aggravated.

When a person dips into the extreme lows of bipolar I disorder, the symptoms experienced can be similar to depression, including hopelessness, sadness, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, emptiness and a loss of interest in hobbies or activities.

Studies show that bipolar I disorder is the most severe form of bipolar due to the disruption and impairment caused by some of its symptoms. For example, the manic episodes experienced can cause severe disturbance to a person’s daily living, impacting their health, work, and relationships.

In addition, manic episodes may cause people to engage in harmful or risky behaviours, such as substance abuse, reckless driving or excessive spending – impairing their judgement, and threatening their safety and overall health.

Bipolar II disorder

A man with bipolar disorder at the mirror. Bipolar affective disorder

Bipolar II disorder is similar to bipolar I disorder, characterised by cycling between episodes of high and low mood.

However, individuals with bipolar II disorder will experience less-intense elevated moods, called hypomania, never reaching a full mania state. They are also likely to suffer more often from depressive episodes.

Those with bipolar II disorder are usually able to function relatively well, as the episodes they experience are typically not as debilitating or disruptive as those with bipolar I disorder. However, individuals may be depressed for longer episodes, which can cause significant impairment.

Cyclothymia

Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder characterised by mood changes that are not as severe as bipolar I and bipolar II disorders.

Although cyclothymia shares similar characteristics to bipolar disorder, most people do not seek mental health treatment as the symptoms are not severe enough, or the emotional highs feel pleasant.

It’s common for those with cyclothymia to be unaware they have a mental health problem, meaning that many people with the condition remain undiagnosed and untreated.

However, the emotional ups and downs and persistent mood swings experienced in cyclothymia can cause various complications in an individual’s work and personal life.

Other symptoms of cyclothymia may include:

  • Episodes of low mood followed by extreme enthusiasm and happiness – you may also have more energy and require less sleep than usual.
  • Constant mood swings – studies show that individuals with cyclothymia do not go any longer than two months without experiencing an emotional high or low mood episode.
  • Fatigue and a loss of interest in activities you ordinarily enjoy. However, unlike other forms of bipolar, most people can continue with ordinary routines and daily functioning despite a lack of energy and motivation.

Other types of mood disorder

As well as the conditions mentioned, there are various other types of mood disorder, including:

  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – is a type of depression that occurs during specific seasons, such as autumn or winter. Research shows the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are similar to major depression, although one of the main differences is that sufferers usually feel better once the season ends.
  • Substance/medication-induced bipolar disorder – is when an individual experiences symptoms of bipolar disorder due to the consumption of specific substances such as drugs, alcohol or certain medications.
  • Other specified or unspecified bipolar disorder – these diagnoses are common in those who do not meet the criteria for the various types of bipolar disorder but still experience bipolar symptoms such as hypomania.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder – is characterised by intense mood changes and agitation during a female’s premenstrual cycle. Women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder may experience anger, anxiety, extreme mood swings and despair, with symptoms easing up once menstruation occurs.

Mood disorder symptoms

Those suffering from a mood disorder may experience various symptoms, making it challenging to keep up with daily demands and the pressures of modern living.

Although the symptoms of a mood disorder can differ depending on an individual’s circumstances, it’s common for people to experience the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Ongoing sadness
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping more than usual
  • Feeling guilty, empty, and/or worthless
  • Sensitive to rejection or failure
  • Irritability, aggression, or hostility
  • Low self-esteem
  • Social isolation
  • Loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed
  • Suicidal thoughts

Causes and risk factors for mood disorders

man-wearing-hoodie-alone

Mental health researchers are not entirely sure what causes mood disorders.

However, a combination of factors can put you at risk of developing the condition, including the following:

  • Stressful events, including divorce, the death of a loved one or emotional trauma.
  • Chemical imbalances in the brain.
  • Family history – some studies suggest mood disorders have a strong genetic component, meaning these conditions tend to run in families.

Treatment options for mood disorders

Treatment for mood disorders typically includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Fortunately, the prognosis for those with a mood disorder is favourable, with many people experiencing successful treatment outcomes.

An integrated treatment approach to treating mood disorders is the most effective and may prevent individuals from relapsing.

Speaking to a mental health professional 

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mood disorder or other mental health condition, you must speak to a healthcare professional who can provide the treatment and support you need.

Various treatment options can effectively treat mood disorders, allowing you to regain balance and control in your life.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talk therapy that can help you better manage your mental health by changing how you think and behave.

CBT is an interactive therapy that helps you deal with any current issues you might be experiencing instead of focusing on the past.

This type of therapy teaches people healthier coping methods rather than engaging in unhelpful thinking or maladjusted behavioural patterns.

CBT is shown to be an effective therapy for various mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and mood disorders.

Medication

It’s common for individuals to be prescribed certain medications to help them manage mood disorder symptoms, such as antidepressants.

Antidepressants can be effective in elevating energy levels, improving mood, and helping people to sleep better.

Your doctor or healthcare professional can advise you on the best medication for your condition and personal circumstances and/or explore alternative treatment options.

Mood disorder treatment in Ontario, Canada

Life Coach Having a Counseling Session with a Female Client

Studies by the Government of Canada have reported that providing Canadians with the tools and resources to manage anxiety and mood disorders effectively may help foster recovery, allowing people living with these disorders to achieve their full potential. (Mood and anxiety disorders in Canada, Fast facts from the 2014 Survey on Living with Chronic Diseases in Canada, Government of Canada.)

The above report showed that specific self-management strategies helped improve clinical outcomes for Canadians with anxiety and mood disorders; some of these strategies include:

  • Physical exercise: 64% of participants said they exercised at least two to three times a week, which helped alleviate anxiety and mood disorder symptoms.
  • Meditation: 43% of study participants said using meditative practices helped them to manage their mental health symptoms better.
  • Light therapy: the report showed that around 14% of people had used light therapy to manage their mood disorder.
  • Self-education: approximately 83% of Canadians who participated in the study said they had educated themselves about their mental health condition.

Mood disorder treatment at Centres for Health and Healing

Centres for Health and Healing provide personalised treatment to clients with various mental health issues, including addiction, anxiety, depression and mood disorders.

Our experienced, professional healthcare staff deliver an individualised treatment approach that meets each person’s unique needs, preferences and treatment goals.

In our experience, those with mood disorders respond well to integrated treatment programs that combine multiple therapies and approaches, including medication, individual or group therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and specific lifestyle changes such as cultivating a healthier diet and engaging in regular exercise.

We also provide comprehensive aftercare and support to help you stay on track with your recovery after completing a treatment program at our centre, that reinforces the vital principles learned during treatment, including healthy coping skills and relapse prevention strategies.

You don’t need to suffer in silence. We are here and ready to help guide you every step of the way.

Contact our treatment centre in Ontario for further support and advice on our mood disorder treatment program.

Additional resources

  1. Mood and anxiety disorders in Canada, Fast facts from the 2014 Survey on Living with Chronic Diseases in Canada, Government of Canada
  2. The Various Types of Mood Disorders, Olivia Guy-Evans, SimplyPsychology, March 16, 2023
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