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What is the Difference Between Mood and Affect?

What is the Difference Between Mood and Affect?

Mood is more of a constant/’ever-present’ or sustained emotion. Affect is a state of feeling when it is observable, for example, euphoria, anger, sadness. So, what is the difference between mood and affect?

Mood and affect can be likened to climate and weather. Affect is to mood as weather is to climate.

Affect → weather; mood→climate.

Affect        mood

↓                  ↓

weather    climate

This may not be the usual weather for this place's climate.

This may not be the usual weather for this place’s climate.

Likewise, this man's current affect may not accurately indicate his usual moods.

Likewise, this man’s current affect may not accurately indicate his usual moods.

Climate is what the normal weather conditions are for a particular region (in a long-term sense), and weather is more of a particular condition at that environment at any given time, such as, rain, wind etc. Therefore, weather is more changeable/fluctuating, and climate is more of the norm or what may be expected for a particular time of the year in a particular region. So, mood can be described in a person as what may be more common of that particular person (or what is ‘normal’ for them) such as in the climate of any given region, or what is more enduring (such as a ‘happy-go-lucky’ mood which is often displayed by any particular individual), or what is seen as a longer-term state of being, and affect can be described as to how a person’s shorter-term/here-and-now present emotional (associated with outwardly displayed behaviours) are interpreted by any observer.

To put it simply, mood is longer-term or what is more usual for a particular person at a given stage, and affect is how the person appears to an observer/others in the given moment. So, a person with depression let’s say, Major Depressive Disorder) may or does have a flattened mood; a flattened/dejected state of being over a period of time, but this person’s affect may vary somewhat during this period of time, such as one may display a reduction in his/her expressions at any given moment, only to display a more severe reduction at any other given moment (as interpreted or perceived by others/what others observe). If a person has depression, their state of being or mood is low/dull etc., and this may vary somewhat from day to day or moment by moment and expressed in various ways such as displaying emotions that are reduced, severely reduced or not even ‘apparent’ at all (no signs of emotions; just complete ‘emptiness’), and this is liken to how weather can change/alter/vary in any given climatic region.

Basically, in the realms of mental health, affect can be more-or-less either broad (normal), restricted, blunted or flat. Obviously, careful consideration should be paid to cultural differences. Restricted affect relates to a clear reduction in one’s expressive range and intensity of affects. Blunted affect is a severe reduction in one’s intensity of expression and a flat affect is a lack of signs of affective expression, for example one’s face may be ‘immobile’.

glum man face

Thank you for visiting www.depressionmentalhealth.com and for reading my article ‘What is the Difference Between Mood and Affect.

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Originally posted 2011-01-22 05:07:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter


mental health worker. i am interested in peer support, recovery of mental health, psychotherapy, psychology and mental health in general. i live in australia.

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13 Responses to What is the Difference Between Mood and Affect?

  1. Nice answer,,thx

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