Rapid Mood Swings in My Friend

Reader’s Question

Hi, I wondered if you could give me your advice regarding a good friend of mine who I have worked with for the last 3 yrs. During that time I have learned and noticed a lot about her frequent mood swings which are at times very extreme. She is 46 yrs of age and has 3 grown up children and a partner. She will go from one extreme to another in a very short space of time: she will appear as if she has no concerns or worries and basically feels that she can do anything, but then in the next breath she will be confined to her bed. She will not get up even if someone shouts through her door — she will ignore them!!! On a good day she will be up cleaning till all hours of the night, but on a bad day will not even get out of bed. It’s important that I tell you this is in short spaces of time, and she will be very rapid in her moods. She doesn’t concentrate and often appears on another planet, she wakes in the night and very rarely sleeps at night, and she often uses the phrase that she is ‘buzzing’. Naturally I am very worried for her. She is on medication which is to control her sleeping but I must say the meds that she is on do not help her at all. I have advised her to go consult her doctor again as I feel she has meds that are making no difference to her at all and come to think of it not tackling the root of her problems which I think are her moods. I would really appreciate your advice on this one.

Many thanks.

Psychologist’s Reply

It’s likely that your good friend is experiencing a combination of clinical depression and possible menopause. While she has mood swings, they don’t sound Bipolar at this point. I also feel you are correct that her medication may not be helping. People often see their family physician with a single complaint such as sleep problems. Poor sleep is a classic symptom of both depression and menopause. A medication to assist in sleep, for example, typically has no antidepressant action.

I’d bring your observations of mood swings to her attention and express your concern. You might then recommend that she read an article I wrote on Chemical Imbalance. It discusses the brain chemistry issues with depression, anxiety, and other conditions. It’s available on my website at www.drjoecarver.com. We might also recommend that she discuss her symptoms with her GYN physician. We have a variety of treatments that would help stabilize her mood and decrease her depressive symptoms.

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