Common, debilitating mood disorders

Affective disorders are psychiatric diseases that affect moods. These disorders, which are also known as mood disorders, may arise due to life events, genetic factors or chemical imbalances in the brain. As Social Security lawyers in Chicago would agree, these disorders often disrupt a person’s relationships, work and other obligations.

Fortunately, the victims of various affective disorders may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration recognizes the potentially debilitating nature of many of these disorders, including the following three.


Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in America, according to the National Institutes of Health. An estimated 16 million adults suffered from one or more depressive episodes during 2012 or the preceding year. Many adults also suffer from variants of this disorder, including seasonal depression or postpartum depression.

Depression may cause apathy, issues with concentration, low energy, guilty feelings and suicidal thoughts. Victims may also suffer from sleep and appetite disturbances. When these symptoms persist and disrupt daily activities, victims may be eligible for SSD benefits. Victims can qualify medically for benefits if they document four recognized symptoms of depression and two of the following issues:

  • Difficulty functioning socially
  • Challenges performing activities of daily living
  • Issues focusing, maintaining pace or persisting during tasks
  • Recurrent, worsening episodes in which symptoms become more severe

The Social Security Administration has also established alternate criteria for people with depression that has persisted for over two years.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive disorder, is characterized by shifts in energy, mood, activity level and ability to handle daily activities. During manic phases, a person may engage in impulsive, risk-taking behaviors or act overly happy, restless or irritable. During depressive episodes, a person may struggle to concentrate and suffer from feelings of hopelessness, apathy or fatigue.

As Social Security lawyers in Chicago know, people who document certain effects of bipolar disorder automatically meet the SSA’s medical criteria. Victims must demonstrate two of the functional limitations listed above, along with three accepted symptoms. These symptoms include hyperactivity, inability to focus, decreased sleep, pressured speech and flight of ideas.

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety-related disorders cause irrational and often extreme feelings of worry or fear. These feelings may disrupt focus, impede decision-making and cause physical symptoms, such as nausea and headaches.

Victims of generalized anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder or panic disorders may be eligible for SSD benefits. However, as most Social Security lawyers in Chicago could explain, these disorders are evaluated under distinct criteria. Victims must document one established symptom, such as irrational fears, physical symptoms, persistent panic attacks, flashbacks or compulsions. Claimants also must document two of the restrictions described previously.