Finding Answers: Don’t Let Mood Disorders Go Undiagnosed

mood disorders
Statistics suggest approximately 10 million people live with an untreated mood disorder. | Image Source: Angelo Amboldi, Flickr

Having an undiagnosed mood disorder can be tiresome. You might literally wake up tired in the morning, feel like staying in bed all day–but go to work anyway–only to return home feeling worse. Sometimes you might feel like you’ve come down with the flu, but you know you haven’t been around any sick people. Maybe you’re just having one of your “down” days? If you find you’re making these kinds of rationalizations on a regular basis, and you’ve never been checked for a mood disorder, maybe it is time to consider if your ups-and-downs are tied to a medical condition.

Mood disorders can be seriously debilitating, mainly because of how subtle their influences on our lives can be. It is important to get a clear idea what factors are at play in our minds–don’t let anything keep you from getting the full picture of what’s really going on with these seemingly transient symptoms.

“It’s probably just the flu. Also I didn’t sleep well last night”

Self-assessing a mood disorder as a random anomaly can be an honest mistake, but as many as 45% of people with mood disorders go untreated, which is a lot, considering nearly 21 million American adults have some form of mood disorder.[1. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-mood-disorder-among-adults.shtml] That is too much unneeded stress and frustration, and perhaps even helplessness, since you don’t understand why you’re constantly feeling this way.

“It’s embarrassing to admit that I’m ‘crazy’”

And then there is another segment of the population who feel ashamed or embarrassed to have a mood disorder, like it’s their fault or it could have been prevented. You don’t want to be considered “crazy” for having a mood disorder like bipolar disorder, so you hide it from friends, family, co-workers–even from yourself. Again, this can be very distressing and harmful–to yourself and your relationships. Because you’re not “crazy,” and you certainly have nothing to be ashamed of, no one who matters is going to judge you for having a serious, but treatable, condition. With only a little information, the stigma of a mood disorder diagnosis can be easily broken. Don’t let unfounded misconceptions prevent you from getting the help you need.

“Won’t I be medicated for the rest of my life?”

Another common fear that keeps people from seeking a diagnosis: “If it is a mental health illness, I’ll need to be medicated for the rest of my life.” For many people with bipolar disorder, they find as they age, their “swings” between mania and depression are both less extreme, and less common–and in some cases they are able to be taken off the medication without any problems. There is no way to know what the future might hold, but there is no rule about mental health stating that to be cured, you have to stay on medicine forever. Everyone is different. More important is getting well and feeling better–and even if that takes medication, isn’t the end result worth it?

Since mood disorders are diverse, yet common, researchers have honed a variety of treatments for every kind of patient, depending on your own personality and state of mind. What this means for you is that if you are currently suffering, a mood disorder diagnosis can actually improve your life, since during all the time leading up to the diagnosis your concerns have gone untreated. It’s not until you discover the cause that real healing and improvement can begin.

A residential treatment facility like Bridges to Recovery can help you fully understand the specifics of your mood disorder. We perform a comprehensive assessment to determine your complete and accurate diagnosis, and tailor a treatment plan that directly fits your specific needs. A treatment center can work with you to find the right diagnosis and treatment plan to help you learn the tools necessary for regaining control of your own feelings. Whatever the reason for avoiding a diagnosis, it’s time to put that behind you. A step towards understanding is a step towards healing.