The essential feature of Mood Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition is a prominent and persistent disturbance in mood that is judged to be due to the direct physiological effects of a general medical condition. The mood disturbance may involve depressed mood; markedly diminished interest or pleasure; or elevated, expansive, or irritable mood (Criterion A). Although the clinical presentation of the mood disturbance may resemble that of a Major Depressive, Manic, Mixed, or Hypomanic Episode, the full criteria for one of these episodes need not be met; the predominant symptom type may be indicated by using one of the following subtypes: With Depressive Features, With Major Depressive-Like Episode, With Manic Features, or With Mixed Features. There must be evidence from the history, physical examination, or laboratory findings that the disturbance is the direct physiological consequence of a general medical condition (Criterion B). The mood disturbance is not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., Adjustment Disorder With Depressed Mood that occurs in response to the psychosocial stress of having the general medical condition) (Criterion C). The diagnosis is also not made if the mood disturbance occurs only during the course of a delirium (Criterion D). The mood disturbance must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (Criterion E). In some cases, the individual may still be able to function, but only with markedly increased effort.
In determining whether the mood disturbance is due to a general medical condition, the clinician must first establish the presence of a general medical condition. Further, the clinician must establish that the mood disturbance is etiologically related to the general medical condition through a physiological mechanism. A careful and comprehensive assessment of multiple factors is necessary to make this judgment. Although there are no infallible guidelines for determining whether the relationship between the mood disturbance and the general medical condition is etiological, several considerations provide some guidance in this area. One consideration is the presence of a temporal association between the onset, exacerbation, or remission of the general medical condition and that of the mood disturbance. A second consideration is the presence of features that are atypical of primary Mood Disorders (e.g., atypical age at onset or course or absence of family history). Evidence from the literature that suggests that there can be a direct association between the general medical condition in question and the development of mood symptoms can provide a useful context in the assessment of a particular situation. In addition, the clinician must also judge that the disturbance is not better accounted for by a primary Mood Disorder, a Substance-Induced Mood Disorder, or other primary mental disorders (e.g., Adjustment Disorder). This determination is explained in greater detail in the “Mental Disorders Due to a General Medical Condition” section.
In contrast to Major Depressive Disorder, Mood Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition, With Depressive Features, appears to be nearly equally distributed by gender. Mood Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition increases the risk of attempted and completed suicide. Rates of suicide are variable depending on the particular general medical condition, with chronic, incurable, and painful conditions (e.g., malignancy, spinal cord injury, peptic ulcer disease, Huntington’s disease, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS], end-stage renal disease, Head injury) carrying the greatest risk for suicide.