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Wild Mood Swings

Question:

I have been diagnosed with unipolar depression. Lately however I have been have wild mood swings. Mostly downwards ones. This concerns me and I am making an appointment to review my medication with my doctor. However in the mean time can anyone help me understand what is going on and how to balance my moods.

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

Excellent idea, that appointment to review your medications and symptoms. Unipolar depression (the sort of depression that is all ‘downs’ and no ‘ups’, is kissing cousin to Bipolar depression which has all the downs of conventional depression, plus energetic manic periods which can be experienced as euphoric or agitated. Sometimes people are initially diagnosed as having a unipolar process, which later reveals itself to be more of the bipolar variety. This is an important distinction to catch as early as possible because the medications that work for one form of depression aren’t good for the other. It is also possible that you are experiencing life stressors that are playing havoc with your moods (this happens all the time), or that you are reacting to some medications or drugs you are taking, are having a medical problem of some sort or any of several other possibilities that should be ruled out by a competent physician.

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p> I would say for the mean time, do what you can do to keep yourself on an even keel. Maintain (or start on) healthy routines, including keeping up with people you care about, relaxation and centering activities (like a yoga class or meditation, or prayer), and physical exercise (like walking or even going to the gym). Explain to those you are close to that you are having some difficulty keeping your moods on track so that it is not frightening to them if they see it happening. Tell these close people around you that you are seeking help for your difficulty (if you can trust them with that information), as it will help them to know that you are doing something to help yourself. Then get to the doctor and follow the treatment program she recommends. You might also find psychotherapy a very profitable avenue of treatment to explore. Cognitive behavioral treatment for depression can help teach you how to retain rational control over your life when your moods are pulling you in random directions. Also – having a supportive relationship with a counselor you can trust to talk about things with can just be a great help when you are feeling low.

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