Even at their highest intensity, symptoms of mood disorders are often misinterpreted as merely mood swings. Worse, they are sometimes considered personality flaws rather than real medical conditions. The truth is that mood disorders are treatable medical illnesses caused by a complex interaction of genetic, biochemical and environmental factors. There are several types of mood disorders: major depressive disorder (unipolar depression); dysthymia; bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression); cyclothymia.
Bipolar disorder occurs equally in women and men, but women are twice as likely as men to experience a major depressive disorder. While the onset of these disorders can occur at any point, most individuals experience their first episode between the ages of 25 and 40.