WHAT IS RECURRENT UNIPOLAR DEPRESSION AND DYSPHORIC MOOD?
Unipolar depression is the same as major depression, which is the same as clinical depression. It is considered unipolar because, whereas manic depressives experience both terrible lows and manic highs (the twin poles of their disorder), people afflicted with unipolar depression only experience the down phase. When episodes happen repeatedly over the course of months or years, the illness is considered recurrent.
A dysphoric mood is an unpleasant emotional state with feelings of sadness, anxiety, and/or irritability. If short in duration, it is usually not severe enough to lead to a major impairment of functioning. Psychiatrists use the term to describe patients who complain of a shifting set of symptoms. These mood changes, if transitory, are often normal responses to ordinary (but momentous) events of life such as leaving home for the first time, falling in love, or losing a loved one. Dysphoric moods can also accompany medical disorders such as stroke or Alzheimer’s disease.
However, if the dysphoric mood swings become prolonged for weeks or longer, the patient should be evaluated. The dysphoria may evolve into a bona fide depression, which needs to be treated.