When we think of mood problems, we often think of low energy, negative thinking, sadness, and tendency to isolate. However, mood problems are not just “mental” or “emotional.” According to a September 2013 report from the World Health Organization the amount of damage untreated mood disorders causes takes a greater toll on health than chronic angina, arthritis, asthma, or diabetes. A growing body of research also indicates that mood disorders trigger certain diseases: chronic pain, acid reflux, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and other problems. Mood disorders wreak havoc on the entire body by throwing the stress response out of whack. Mood issues are not just about being “down” or feeling unmotivated; they can, indeed, be very physical and need to be taken seriously.
People who are seeking counseling are often looking for relief from mood problems. They are trying to regain or boost their mental, emotional, and physical energy. For the person suffering the energy loss, it can feel that the mood shifted all of a sudden or gradually became worse until they could take no more and sought help. However, it generally becomes more clear that there had been stress building over the course of time, whether that be from physical illness, major change, loss, or unresolved difficulties from the past. We can often identify that the mood issue had been operating in cycles; however, they easily go unnoticed. For instance, a person may experience depression after getting a new job or home. Even though it may be needed or wanted change, it is still change and change takes energy to accommodate, hence the dip in mood.
Over the next month or so, as we start to move from summer into autumn we may be more aware of fatigue as sunlight decreases and we prepare for the slow decent into the solitude of winter. Our bodies are rallying to accommodate this major change. We are part of nature – we go through our own cycles in response to nature.
The changes in our lives are felt deep within the organism (body) in which we live. It is important to pay extra attention when preparing for and or moving towards change. This is something that I notice as a behavior therapist working with clients with mood problems is that preparation for change is often lacking — The fallout of lack of preparation can make for unanticipated immense suffering. The overwhelm and dysregulation of emotions can result in regression back into self defeating and self harmful behaviors making for negative impact to self esteem.
Structure and self-care are necessary staples. Eating healthy, getting a good nights sleep, movement, fresh air, recreation. Moving forward one breathe at a time of course is most important! Creating the conditions to be safe, healthy and stable is key in living and even thriving with a mood disorder.