‘Mood disorders’ covers a range of different problems. These are characterised by low mood – in the case of unipolar depression, or mood instability – in the case of bipolar disorders. Other symptoms include problems with self-worth, sleep, appetite, concentration, changes in energy levels and in some cases thinking about death and suicide. Mood disorders are very common – affecting about I in 5 people, with a greater proportion of women, and those facing the greatest adversity and disadvantage.
Mood disorders quite typically start in late adolescence / early adulthood and for many will have recurring patterns throughout life, a bit life a chronic condition like diabetes. In fact mood disorders often exist with long-term physical health conditions.
There is no simple cause. The best evidence points to a range of factors: biological (some genetic and neuro-chemical basis), social (bad things happening) and psychological (negative ways of interpreting experience and rumination).
In Oxford Health, researchers are investigating all these different types of causes. We want to use these advances in understanding to develop better treatments. We want to prevent mood disorders before they even start, by working with young people. Treatments need to be improved and organised to make them as accessible and effective as possible to as many people as possible. Many such treatment innovations are currently underway in the Trust.
Willem Kuyken, Professor of Clinical Psychology