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D. Understanding Mood Changes

Narrator: This is Science Today. We all experience changes in mood, which at times could be extreme, depending on certain life events. Dr. Adam Travis, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, says there's a crucial difference between people who are termed "moody" and those who have a serious mood disorder, such as manic depression or bipolar disorder.

Travis: The feature that distinguishes a mood disorder from someone who is moody or emotional or responding to a major stressor, is that for mood disorder the symptoms must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

Narrator: What can sometimes make diagnosis difficult, is the fact that some major mood disorders are actually caused by a general medical condition.

Travis: An example of that would be someone who has hypothyroidism that's not treated, may develop all the symptoms of a major depression, but it's because they're hypothyroid. Once the hypothyroidism is corrected, the mood symptoms should resolve.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.