Mood disorders are characterized as psychological disorders that involve fluctuations in the mood and sometimes persistent elevated or low mood. These disturbances in the mood of an individual can occur for a number of reasons. Our moods are the reflections of our condition and state and can vary from case to case but for individuals with a mood disorder, a simple state of low mood, joy or anger can become uncontrollably overpowering. The most common types of mood disorders are Bipolar Disorder and Depression. These illnesses usually leave an individual feeling hopeless and extremely upset and in some cases the moods are highly elevated and hard to control.

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Individuals with certain mood disorders tend to consume drugs, alcohol or other substances to regulate their uneven and fluctuating mood. This is known as self-medication. During the feelings of depression, individuals may use alcohol or cocaine to brighten their mood and to feel normal. On the other hand, during Bipolar phases of mania, extreme elevated mood swings, and people tend to use depressants and stimulants to calm their nerves.

Even though the cause of the co-occurrence of both the mood disorders and substance use is unknown, some researches show that both the disorders are linked together somehow or the other. The Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University states that people with mood disorders usually have a chemical imbalance affecting the brain’s production of certain chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and endorphins — neurotransmitters that affects our thoughts, feelings and actions.

These neurological and chemical imbalances may also increase the tendency to abuse drugs or alcohol in order to compensate for a lack of the chemicals that make us feel stable and content. Individuals with mood disorders are unable to cope with their depression, anger and stress and for them, drugs are the best form of medication to provide relief.

By Samreen Masud
Clinical Psychologist

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