Affective Disorder

Affective disorder is a category of mental health conditions that includes depression and bipolar disorder (manic depression). Depression involves sustained periods of despondent moods, while bipolar disorders often presents with wildly fluctuating moods. Affective disorders are often difficult to detect or classify, and the cause of any individual’s disorder can be very difficult to determine.
There are, however, a number of common sources suspected of contributing to affective disorder:
  • Genetics –evidence suggests certain forms of affective disorder are inherited, but environmental factors still influence the expression of the condition
  • Major emotional conflict – this may include stress, abuse or loss of loved ones
  • Substance abuse – dependence on alcohol or other drugs may trigger depression or other disorders
  • Prescription drugs – certain drugs with legitimate therapeutic use can have mood altering side effects

Because untreated affective disorders can grow progressively worse, it is important to recognize the signs of these disorders. There are many known symptoms that may signal an affective disorder: 
  • Persistent sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Excessive guilt
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia (hard to fall or stay asleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness)
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Decreased energy
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Irritability, hostility or aggression

Treating Affective Disorder
The most common treatments for affective disorders are medication and psychotherapy. The most frequently used medications are antidepressants. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, primarily involves dialog with a therapist designed to help a patient learn to cope with the disorder and alter behaviors that contribute to it.
Treatment of affective disorder frequently involves a combination of both these methods. At Houston Methodist an interdisciplinary team of psychiatrists, psychologists, and other specialists, works together to ensure the highest quality of patient care.