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Affective disorders or mood disorders are mental disorders reflected in disturbances of mood. They may be regarded as lying along the affective spectrum a grouping of related psychiatric and medical disorders which may accompany bipolar, unipolar, and schizoaffective disorders at statistically higher rates than would normally be expected.

The affective disorders include:

Schizoaffective disorder is a somewhat vaguely-defined term that describes patients that show symptoms of both schizophrenia and one of the mood disorders.

There are also forms of mood disorder that are specific to women, related to physiological events such as pregnancy, giving birth or the menopause - these include Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and Postpartum Depression.

The generally-accepted definitions of these terms can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Most psychiatrists believe that all mood disorders are in some ways related, both symptomatically and biochemically, as a part of a single spectrum of disorders. However, some psychiatrists claim that bipolar disorder may actually be biochemically closer to schizophrenia than (unipolar) depression.

See also

References & Bibliography

Key texts



  • Bostwick, J. M. & Pankratz, V. S. (2000). Affective disorders and suicide risk: A reexamination. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157, 1925–1932.
  • Kessler, R.C. (1994)The U.S. National Comorbidity Survey: Onset, chronicity and comorbidity patterns of mood disorders in the general population. In S.Z. Langer, N. Brunello, G. Racagni, & J. Mendlewicz (Eds.), Critical Issues in the Treatment of Affective Disorders. Basel: Karger. pp. 154-157.
  • Keller, M. C. & Nesse, R. M. (2005). Is low mood an adaptation? Evidence for subtypes with symptoms that match precipitants. Journal of Affective Disorders, 86, 27-35. Full text
  • Nesse, R.M. (2006). Evolutionary Explanations for Mood and Mood Disorders. In D.J. Stein , D.J. Kupfer, & A.F. Schatzberg, (Eds.), The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Mood Disorders, American Psychiatric Publishing, Washington DC, pp. 159-175. Full text
  • Tsuang MT, Woolson RF, Winokur G, Crowe RR: Stability of psychiatric diagnosis. Schizophrenia and affective disorders followed up over a 30- to 40-year period. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1981, 38:535-539.

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