What is Euthymia?

Nicole Long

Euthymia refers to a normal mood. Typically, people displaying a positive mood without extreme happiness or sadness are considered to present with euthymic mood during medical exams. Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders may diminish experiencing euthymia, and sometimes treatments are prescribed to help patients achieve a balanced mood.

Euthymia refers to a normal display of positiveness.
Euthymia refers to a normal display of positiveness.

Having a diagnosed mental disorder, such as depression, does not preclude someone from demonstrating a normal mood. Periods of euthymia may occur less often or for shorter periods of time, but any period of normal mood is considered a euthymic mood. This also holds true for those with mental disorders.

The word dysthymia means "melancholy" or "ill mood."
The word dysthymia means "melancholy" or "ill mood."

Those demonstrating a euthymic mood display a calm and peaceful demeanor. Life activities and responsibilities occur normally, with little difficulty. Even those without a specific diagnosed mental disorder can go in and out of states of euthymia because of stressful situations including health problems, the death of a friend or family member, and difficulties on the job.

An extreme display of happiness and energy is referred to as euphoria. Unlike euthymia, euphoria is often exaggerated and not necessarily a representation of the current reality. This can often be brought on by illicit drug use, the manic stage of bipolar disorder, and toxic situations.

Dysthymia, a form of depression, is at the other end of the spectrum when diagnosing and assessing moods. Patients with dysthymia display a lack of enjoyment and happiness in life. This typically lasts for a minimum of two years and lasts longer than a major depressive episode.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can lead to varying stages of happiness, content, and joy. While sufferers experience major depression in the winter months, the spring tends to bring about a shift towards a more euthymic mood. In some people diagnosed with SAD, the arrival of spring may result in hyperthymia or hypomania features. This results in a noticeable shift to sudden and exaggerated changes in behavior such as reduced sleep, talkativeness, and increased optimism.

Other disorders effecting mood, such as bipolar disorder, can keep people from experiencing level moods and euthymia. People with bipolar disorder fluctuate between periods of manic and depressive states. They suffer extreme highs and extreme lows, but they can get help to regulate moods and experience periods of euthymia.

With medication, therapy, and behavior modification, it is possible for those suffering from mental disorders to reach a state of euthymia. Changes such as increased physical activity, meditation, and enjoyment of hobbies and extracurricular activity can have a positive effect on mood and lead to a euthymic mood.

Extreme happiness is called euphoria.
Extreme happiness is called euphoria.

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