About mood and anxiety disorders


Mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder, are the most frequently occurring mental disorders. Factors that may contribute to the occurrence of a mood disorder include traumatic events during early development, life stressors, genetic predisposition, and biochemical changes. 

Depression is an illness with symptoms including:

  • prolonged feelings of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, and/or helplessness
  • loss of motivation and/or interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • feelings of guilt for little or no apparent reason
  • difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • increased or reduced appetite along with a change in weight
  • difficulty sleeping or waking up
  • general feeling of being tired
  • feelings of low self-esteem or worthlessness
  • thoughts, plans, or attempts of suicide

A person may be diagnosed with depression when these types of symptoms are present for at least two weeks.

Depression is often recurrent (multiple episodes) and can evolve into a chronic condition. This chronic condition, called dysthymia, is characterized by the constant presence of depressive symptoms of moderate severity for a period of several years with brief or no symptom-free periods.

Bipolar disorder

Periods of depression may also be mixed with periods of greatly elevated and euphoric moods, most commonly referred to as manic episodes or mania. The combination of depression and manic episodes is called bipolar disorder.

For people with bipolar disorder, manic episodes are marked by:

  • prolonged feelings of extreme optimism and/or lack of judgment
  • dramatically increased activity levels
  • taking part in risky activities that may include the possibility of pain or injury
  • making overly ambitious and grand plans
  • greatly reduced need for sleep without feeling tired
  • racing thoughts
  • an increase in impulsive activities such as spending or sexual indiscretion

It’s a common misconception that these periods of mania are “good times,” when in fact they often cause severe damage to one’s life and relationships.


Anxiety disorders are prevalent, serious, and persistent health problems affecting behaviour, thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. An anxiety disorder is much more than the occasional stress that everyone experiences in their lives. An anxiety disorder should be regarded as seriously as any physical illness.

Characteristics of anxiety disorders include excessive anxiety, exaggerated fears known as phobias, worry, panic attacks, avoidance, obsessive thoughts, and compulsive actions. Anxiety disorders can affect anyone, and if untreated can affect one’s overall health, relationships, and ability to perform day-to-day functions.

Anxiety disorders treated at The Royal include:

  • generalized anxiety disorder
  • panic disorder
  • agoraphobia (avoidance of spaces or situations associated with anxiety)
  • specific phobia (intense fear of particular objects or situations)
  • social phobia
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • acute stress disorder