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Question:

Hi, my name is Brad. I’m 18, and I have some things I’m worried about. I’m usually pretty mellow and I like to be laid back. It works for me. But at random times I’ll have uncontrollable anger if not absolute rage It surges through me. And when I say random, I mean random. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, I’ll just get really, really pissed off. And then, as fast as the anger turns on, it’ll switch to overwhelming depression and hopelessness.

I have no idea what to do and I’m scared out of my mind. I don’t know what’s happening to me. It’s not always anger first. I’ll feel hopeless at random times, too. Sometimes that’s all I feel while other times it’s followed by the anger again.

Please let me know what you think. I could really, really use the help.

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  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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Answer:

Hi Brad,

At age 18 many young people experience problems with their moods. In general, the teen years, including older teen years, can be very tumultous. Aside from the physiological developments that continue to happen, full adulthood is “knocking on the door.” That causes lots of insecurity, anxiety and even depression. Sexual feelings become even more powerful and demand satisfaction. In your case, if you do not have a girlfriend, that can be a possible source of some of your problems.

There are many other things that can be causing problems with your mood and anger. At your age there it is common for some people to experiment with drugs. I am not saying that this is true but am just pointing this out as a possibility. If you are using drug it could account for your mood swings and anger.

Another possibility is that you are depressed. One of the common symptoms of depression, along with feeling hopeless, is anger. It doesn’t matter whether the anger comes first followed by hopelessness or the other way around.

I also want to suggest that you may have a Bipolar disorder. Now, please don’t get upset at this possibility. Bipolar disorder is very treatable. It most certainly can begin at your age and even younger. Your mood swings might be explainable by this diagnosis.

Please understand that there is no way I can diagnose you over the internet. What I can do is recommend that you speak to your primary care physician or family doctor. He can refer you for help. Many of these things, regardless of diagnosis, are treatable with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Your Doctor might refer you to a psychiatrist for evaluation, diagnosis, perhaps medication and to a therapist for therapy.

I do not know your home and financial situation. Perhaps you will need the assistance of your family to pay for help. However, there are not for profit mental health agencies that can provide you with help and at low fees.

Please go and get help. You have nothing to lose except the awful ways you have been feeling.

Best of Luck

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