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Mood disorders and disability

If you or someone you love suffers from a mood disorder or mental illness, you probably have faced challenges in diagnosis and treatment. Whether filing a claim for Social Security disability benefits or trying to explain symptoms to a friend or loved one, mental conditions are often perceived with skepticism. Despite the difficulty in identifying and treating mood conditions, there is no denying that a mental illness can impact the ability to work or function in the day-to-day.

Given increased attention on mental illness and disability, what do doctors know? How do Los Angeles, California patients pursue treatment options? How should mood disorders be documented for the Social Security Administration?

Mood disorders are complex and have been compared to cancer in that the diagnosis is a general term to describe a range of conditions. For suffers, symptoms can vary from a mild depressive episode to a psychotic episode that results in institutionalization or jail time. Most cases require professional intervention. Prognosis and treatment can also vary greatly depending on the severity of symptoms.

The Social Security Administration as well as the public may be more wary when it comes to disability and mental illness, including mood disorders. For suffers, the symptoms can be as debilitating as cancer or another "objective" physical ailment. Legal advocates can help you to pursue Social Security disability, demonstrate your illness to the SSA and show that the illness impacts the ability to work.

For a mood disorder patient, the symptoms will generally affect feelings. Changes can emotion can be moderate to severe, ranging from depression to an overwhelming feeling of excitement or euphoria. In both cases, the extremes can impact function and the ability to work. Disability compensation may be necessary when the states of profound despair or euphoria last for extended periods of time.

Source: CNN Health, "What do we know about mood disorders?" Dr. Charles Raison, July 13, 2012.

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