What Are the Treatment Options for a Dysphoric Mood?

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  • Written By: S. Berger
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2019
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Dysphoria is a mental condition that involves depression and apathy, and can sometimes lead to suicide, especially when those in a dysphoric mood are agitated or sleep-deprived. This state is distinctly different from depression, as dysphoria is considered to be a mood, and not a complete disorder. It may be treated in a similar manner to depression, using therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Care must be taken when using drugs to treat a dysphoric mood, however, because some compounds can induce this feeling in certain people.

Many individuals seek treatment or are recommended for treatment after showing signs of dysphoria, to avoid the risk of suicide or self-harm. Symptoms such as crying, irritability, rapid thoughts, and hallucinations may all be indicators of a dysphoric mood. This type of mood can be a natural response to a painful event such as the death of a loved one, or it may exist as a component of another mental disorder. Therapies that focus on avoiding negative, self-defeating thoughts and learning coping strategies may be sufficient to treat more mild episodes; more severe cases may require intensive therapy or the use of medication, however.


The medication ziprasidone may be used to treat some individuals with dysphoria when they also have bipolar disorder. Ziprasidone is an anticonvulsant and mood stabilizing medication; other drugs in this class may also successfully treat a dysphoric mood in some cases. An antidepressant, duloxetine, has been used in some Texas studies as a potential treatment, but among some people, this therapy could be risky as it could lead to a mixed state of combined dysphoria and agitation.

One specific form of this mood is known as gender dysphoria, which can occur as a component of the mental condition known as gender identity disorder. Usually, this type of dysphoric mood is characterized by unhappiness at one's own gender, and a desire to belong to the opposite gender. Treating dysphoria of this nature can often be a much more involved process, involving hormone therapy and talk therapies. Some patients may be trained to look and behave as a member of the preferred gender to avoid the conditions that may lead to the dysphoria. Often, group therapies involving other people with gender identity disorder, as well as counseling for relatives, may be elements of more substantial treatments.


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How does this differ from borderline personality disorder?

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