In Mood disorders such as bipolar disorder and major depression, healthy mood goes missing. It gets replace by imposters such as mania and depression, which pretend to be healthy moods but are not.

We’ve all seen the TV shows about missing persons, and we know that one of the first things law enforcement agents do is to build a profile of the missing person. Building that profile helps them discover clues that will help them find the missing person.

Unfortunately, for those with depression or bipolar disorder, profiling healthy mood is seldom done. Without a profile, the person looking for health isn’t able to recognize healthy mood. The result may be continuing without help, being unable to understand the illness, or failing to utilize treatment and community resources. Building a profile of healthy mood brings clarity and leads to a wellness focus.

Then what is healthy mood? The first thing we can say about healthy mood is that it is resilient. A resilient mood is one that takes everyday stresses in stride. It has the ability to rebound from the ordinary days of life and the enjoyable and unfortunate turns of life. The bounce-back effect of resilience allows healthy mood to stay within a range that allows a person to be functional in life without becoming overwhelmed by depression or driven by the high energy and irritability of mania or hypomania.

Healthy mood is not a straight-line dullness. It has its ups and downs. It allows for happiness, sadness, joyfulness and grief. It is not a dull mood, but rather a vibrant mood that reverberates with creativity and satisfaction. Its profile includes laughter and tears, but its resilience allows free expression of these emotions without relinquishing itself to the imposters of depression or mania.

A profile of healthy mood also includes the words content and happy. Most people are content or happy most of the time. For someone who has been taken over by any of the imposter moods, this is hard to understand. Depression can steal happiness, and the drive of energetic mania can become a thief of contentment. In these cases, healthy mood has gone missing.

Building a profile of healthy mood is a first step for anyone dealing with mood disorders who wants to regain wellness. Just like on TV, the initial profile of a missing person is incomplete. On TV Facts are gathered and the profile is wonderfully resolved within the allotted time of the show. In real life, healthy mood profiles take weeks to months to years to develop. There are several reasons for this.

First, few people ever talk about healthy mood. Even clinicians don’t always study healthy mood as a topic in their coursework. Too often, the focus is on pathology rather than on wellness, so the profile of healthy mood gets lost in our thinking.

Second, when a person is experiencing depression or any of the moods of bipolar disorder, they are taken over by that mood to the point that it is difficult to imagine healthy mood exists. Healthy mood has gone missing and the imposter moods are telling lies about mood. The lies include “I will never feel good again,” “I’m so creative with mania and I will lose that if I lose the mania”, and “Treatment can’t work for me.”

Third, many with mood disorders haven’t experienced healthy mood for a long time. The imposter moods have sneaked up on them and taken over. The missing healthy mood is difficult to profile since it has been a stranger.

However, it is helpful in the search for wellness to begin building the profile of healthy mood. Doing so gives a target to aim for in seeking wellness. It helps us know when we are close to or in the target area. It also helps us understand and recognize the imposter moods of depression and bipolar disorder.

Here are Seven Tips to build your profile of healthy mood:

  1. Make a list of what you were like before you became ill.
  2. Observe others to see how their responses to life demonstrate healthy mood.
  3. Ask your doctor or clinician to help you recognize signs of healthy mood.
  4. Look for help from support groups who demonstrate healthy mood and a wellness approach.
  5. Spend more time around individuals and groups who are healthy in their approach to life.
  6. Make lists that contrast the imposter moods you experience with healthy mood.
  7. Sit down with a trusted friend or mentor and have a discussion about healthy mood.

DrJane is the author of “Bipolar Disorder—Insights for Recovery” and “Beyond Bipolar—7 Steps to Wellness”. She is a speaker, wellness expert and coach. To learn more about mood disorders, see her website at