Mood disorders are moods experienced outside of the normal range, longer in duration with severe symptoms and where mood and emotions are not under the individual’s control. They include major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder;

  • Major depressive disorder occurs over a period of at least two weeks during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities, accompanied by other symptoms such as insomnia and change in appetite (and weight gain or loss), energy and concentration, inappropriate feelings of guilt and worthlessness, reoccurring thoughts of death (suicidal thoughts)
  • Seasonal patterns of depression, formerly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, are indicated when there is a relationship between the onset of major depressive episodes and a particular time of year. This must occur over 2 years in which depressive symptoms are not experienced in non-seasonal periods
  • Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by manic episodes of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive or irritable mood, usually occurring separate from and in addition to episodes of major depression (there is very little written on bipolar disorder in athlete populations). During the depressive stage of bipolar disorder, several of the listed symptoms below will exist but can last for days, weeks or years before the manic stage where there is elevated mood, grandiose ideas and irritability, rapid thinking and speech, lack of inhibitions or insight and this too can last for days or months

Possible Signs of Mood Disorder

Physical Symptoms:

  • Look sad, dejected or anxious
  • Speak slowly, in monotones
  • Look unkempt (clothing and personal hygiene)
  • Slowed thinking and body movement or agitate and unable to sit. Observed by others, not just a feeling of restlessness or slowness.
  • Decreased energy, tiredness, fatigue
  • Tendency to do very little, since nothing seems enjoyable; withdrawal from social activities.

Psychological Symptoms:

Words of hopelessness and helplessness, negative view of themselves and the world

  • ‘I’ve let everyone down’
  • ‘I’m a failure’; ‘it’s all my fault’
  • ‘Nothing good ever happens to me’
  • ‘I’m so alone’; ‘I’m worthless’; ‘No one loves me’
  • ‘Life is not worth living’; ‘I have thought about killing myself’
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Types of Mental Health Problems

Disorder Disclaimer

The following are mental health problems (as defined by Reardon and Factor, 2010; Gardner and Moore, 2006; Mental Health Commission of Canada – Mental Health First Aid Canada, 2011).

Supporting ‘red flag’ examples are also provided to initiate the awareness and early detection of mental health problems. Please note this is not an exhaustive list, but a breakdown of some common mental health problems and the corresponding physical and psychological symptoms to look out for.