Boyfriend Has Severe Mood Swings. How Can I Help Him?

Reader’s Question

I am extremely concerned about my boyfriend; he has severe mood swings, but nothing like depression then happiness — more like normal behavoir and then erratic spurts of rage at the smallest things. His behavior isn’t just with/towards me, but with everyone around him. He snaps without cause (though he might have one in his mind) and becomes very angry almost all the time. I thought he may be bipolar, but based on the definitions I’ve read on bipolar disorders, he doesn’t fit the criteria. So whats wrong with him? Is he just an angry person? His childhood was said to be pretty happy. He’s the youngest of 6 and the most adored by his parents. His father died two years ago at the age of 87 (so that was not some sort of shock or something he couldn’t get over). He’s 33 years old and has a lot going for him, but the mood swings are so severe he ends up either fighting me or someone else or at least attempting to do so. It costs us business deals, our friendship with each other, and has our relationship on eggshells all the time. Any advice?

Psychologist’s Reply

Rather than Bipolar Disorder, your boyfriend is most likely experiencing a stress-produced depression. Prolonged exposure to a high stress level — such as high levels of responsibility, obligation, work pressure, numerous projects, etc. — gradually emotionally exhausts us. While the death of his father was expected at 87, it may have been the one additional stressor that sent him on this downhill course.

With this type of depression, he’ll be unable to pinpoint the exact problem. At the same time, he’ll have problems sleeping, eating, and will have lost his sexual drive. He’ll experience chronic fatigue and will be highly irritable. He’ll have no patience and may actually engage in self-destructive activities such as alcohol abuse, ignoring job responsibilities, etc.

I’d recommend reading articles I’ve written on depression and Chemical Imbalance on my website at This website also has depression articles as well as online tests. He’ll need mental health intervention as this situation is not likely to get better on its own. Thousands of jobs, relationships, marriages, and careers are lost each week as these very competent individuals fade out of life and into the gloom of a depressive illness.

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