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I’m unable to control my mood swings

Dear Michael,

My moods swing from talkative to withdrawn. In my withdrawn mood, I like keeping to myself. Even my children have learnt to keep their distance when they notice mum is not cracking jokes. What causes such mood swings, and how could I be helped?

Jackie

Thank you, Jackie.

How old are you? Are you going through a major transition in life – at work or at home? Would there be reason for you to believe that you are experiencing increased levels of stress? Or might you simply be very tired with little opportunity to rest?

The answers to these questions and further investigation would give a better indication of what the cause in your specific case might be.

On the face of it, what you describe could be a mood disorder, but I would not be too quick to label.

Mood swings have various causes. They include excessive and sustained stress and fatigue; a major life transition, for example, the children having grown and you not being needed as a stay-at-home-mum; chemical changes in our bodies; hormonal changes, which could also be related to age, and as already mentioned it may be a mood disorder.

Identifying the cause in your particular case would then lead to the correct help. And such evaluation would require professional assessment. But let’s explore generally.

High levels of stress over long periods of time without reprieve can be harmful.

Under such conditions, you may want to retreat, as you have suggested you do, because for instance, you feel no one understands you.

Closely linked to being under stress for long, is the effect of or the need to make major decisions that would lead to major life transitions.

Examples would be moving from the city to a town, a new job or career, or needing to face a significant person on a sensitive issue.

Changes in the chemical composition in our bodies could also cause mood swings, leading to happiness, stress, depression, fear, anxiety.

Extreme changes in our moods could also be the result of hormonal changes during pregnancy, menopause or as a result of side-effects to medication.

Upon professional evaluation, it could be found that the mood swings are symptomatic of a mood disorder.

These include disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity, bipolar, borderline personality, intermittent explosive, depression and substance abuse.

It is important that I reiterate, Jackie, that you should not label yourself or any other person with any of these conditions. Get a professional evaluation from a qualified psychiatrist or a qualified psychologist.

Do you have a pressing personal problem? Seek advice from Michael Oyier at [email protected]