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Treating & Managing Mood Disorders


Our team at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI) has decades of experience helping patients find the right treatment plan for their mood disorders. We have the extensive knowledge and understanding needed to provide patients in crisis with the best possible care.

We also offer a unique clinic for treatment-resistant mood disorders. It is the only referral-based clinic in Utah for patients who struggle to find a stable treatment regimen and are looking for alternative solutions. Our clinic treats hundreds of patients every year, including adolescents and older adults. 

At HMHI, our diverse group of psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and social workers bring different areas of mental health expertise to patient care. We work together across multiple locations and programs to provide an ongoing continuum of care for each and every one of our patients.

What Is a Mood Disorder?

A mood disorder is an illness of the brain and mind that affects a person’s emotional state. People with mood disorders often have problems regulating their mood and experience changes in their interests and energy levels. A mood disorder is not a personal failure or weakness.

Types of Mood Disorders

There are two main categories of mood disorders: major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.

In both categories, people have depressive episodes or periods of time when they feel down, sad, or hopeless. However, people with bipolar disorder also have manic episodes—periods of time where they feel “extremely up”, irritated, or energized.

Mood Disorder Symptoms

You may have major depressive disorder if you experience the following symptoms:

  • a persistent low or flat mood that is different from normal sadness,
  • decreased interest in activities or socializing,
  • decreased ability to feel joy or pleasure,
  • fatigue or loss of energy,
  • changes in your sleep and appetite,
  • negative thoughts about yourself,
  • suicidal thoughts, and
  • general pessimistic view of the future.

Symptoms for the manic episodes of bipolar disorder can include:

  • elevated mood or feelings of euphoria without a clear reason,
  • increased energy,
  • pleasure-seeking, and
  • quick speech and movement patterns.

The depressive episodes of bipolar disorder typically have the same symptoms as major depressive disorder.

Signs of a Mood Disorder in Children & Teens

It is common for people to have their first mood disorder episode as a teenager. Children and teenagers may show slightly different symptoms (e.g., more irritability than normal). However, in most cases, they will have the same kinds of symptoms as adults. It can be difficult for parents to recognize the signs of a mood disorder in their teenager due to the emotional highs and lows that come with being an adolescent. Learn how to spot common signs of mental health trouble in your child or teen.

When to Seek Treatment

If you’re experiencing symptoms that are impacting your quality of life or are concerned that you might have a mood disorder, you should see your doctor right away.

Once you have a mood disorder diagnosis, it is important to maintain an ongoing relationship with your healthcare provider (e.g., primary care doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker). Our specialists will connect you with information and resources that are specific to your needs.

As you seek help, keep in mind that it may take some time to find the right treatment for you. Our providers will work with you and support you every step of the way during this process.

Woman with hand on shoulder of depressed man

Find a Mood Disorder Specialist

Causes of Mood Disorders

Mood disorders can be caused by the following factors:

  • Genetic — You may inherit a genetic predisposition (make a person more likely to develop a condition) to mood disorders from your parents. This is more likely to be true for people who experience a mood disorder early in life or have severe symptoms.
  • Environmental — Negative experiences that you had early on in life (e.g., a history of abuse) could predispose you to developing a mood disorder.

Mood disorder episodes are often started by a stressful trigger, such as a relationship, work, or medical problems. However, this is not always the case later on in the illness.

Mood Disorder Diagnosis Evaluation

During your first appointment, one of our psychiatrists will conduct a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation (approximately one to two hours) to determine if you have a mood disorder. This evaluation includes a review of treatment options and advice on which options you should try first.

We will often give you mood disorder questionnaires to monitor your symptoms and track your progress. We do not use lab tests or scans to diagnose mood disorders unless we are ruling out other medical conditions.

Mood Disorder Treatment

Outpatient Care

We provide ongoing outpatient care, such as therapy and medication management for mood disorders at the following HMHI locations:

Our Farmington and Downtown locations also offer perinatal/maternal mental health services for women experiencing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).

Inpatient Care

Inpatient treatment is for individuals facing an acute mental health issue who are unable to remain safe in a less restrictive environment. During an inpatient stay at University of Utah Hospital, specialists will:

  • monitor patients for safety,
  • clarify diagnoses, and
  • focus the treatment plan and medication schedule (if appropriate).
Learn More about the Hospital Inpatient Program

Treatment Resistant Mood Disorders (TRMD) Clinic

We treat patients with difficult-to-treat mood disorders who have been referred to the TRMD Clinic by their healthcare provider. Once these patients reach a place of stability and safety, they return to their routine healthcare provider for ongoing care. Specialized treatments that we offer include the following.

Learn More about the TRMD Clinic

Treating Children & Teens for Mood Disorders

Programs & Treatments

HMHI offers the following treatment programs for children and teens struggling with mood disorders:

family smiling in therapy

Mental Health Crisis Resources

We are here for you when you need us the most. Our team of professionals are trained in:

  • mental health crisis management,
  • suicide prevention, and
  • emotional wellness.

HMHI provides the following specialty programs and resources for you and your loved ones to prevent mental health crises and provide emotional support when needed.

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