Anger and mood swings

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. Hello, my name is carol. I’m 31 years old and I just had a baby boy 3 months ago. My aunt and uncle raised me since I was 8 months old and they fought quite a bit. My dad verbally abused my mom and threatened her quite frequently. I used to scream and cry a lot when they were fighting and have very vivid memories of the anxiety and fear. Like most children I was super attatched to my mom. I had so much worry and anxiety, that often I did not want to go home from school. I did well in school however and tried very hard to go to college so that I could make my life better. I went to college and immediately became involved with someone who was very controlling. I put myself though so much mental anguish to stay in that relationship. All the while, I would have an occasional angry outburst, but mostly I tried so hard to be a nice person, worthy I guess of having someone love me. In the last three years I have gotten married to a pretty nice guy, he is messy and quiet sometimes, but altogether a nice person. Now I know that having a baby can make you a little moody, but since having the baby I have had depressive thoughts and sometimes thoughts of hurting myself, it scares me to say this, because I tell myself I would not do anything to hurt myself or my baby, but it scares me to death that they even enter into me head. I don’t want to hurt my baby but thoughts of hurting myself seem peaceful, but I wouldnt. I just want the mental exhaustion to be over. All these emotions are going on inside my head and I can’t tell anyone because they might think I’m crazy or that I’m a bad mother. My fear is that I will be a bad mother and have angry outbursts on my son. I feel like sometimes I should not be a mother, I feel useless and that anyone could do my job and do it better. The house is never perfect and I would at least like a clean house, but it’s always a mess, and the energy to clean it is gone. I know this is very long but I just need someone to tell me what’s wrong with me. Why do I have so much anger, and why often times is it mis-directed. Those moments when I lose my temper I feel this sense of anger that is so deep and painful that I just want to make those around me feel it and know what I’m feeling. Even when I’m losing my temper I know what I’m doing is wrong and fruitless, like throwing things around in the kitchen, banging pots and pans or whatever is close. I’ve never hit anyone ever, and I just wouldn’t want to live with myself if I ever injured anyone, but yet why do I have so much anger? From my childhood, why is it still here? Am I just feeling sorry for myself? Why can’t I let things go? Do I need therapy, exercise, medication and if so why do I not do anything to help myself? Can you please tell me if I’m normal or as my husband says I have anger management issues and need anti-depressants? Please give me your professional opinion. Thank you so much…

A. I do think your behavior is abnormal and I do think that you need to see a professional about your symptoms. While I admittedly cannot know this without interviewing you at length, my belief is that you are suffering from a post partum syndrome. I am not saying that your childhood and other issues are not at play here but my main concern is that you just had a baby and you are having thoughts of harming the baby. You should see a counselor and/or a psychiatrist without hesitation. I do think you could benefit from counseling or medication. Please also know that you are not a bad mother. The majority of women have extreme mood instability after having a baby. As a good mother, it is imperative that you seek help for the emotional issues you have been having in the past few months. Your baby is completely dependent on you and is need of a healthy, emotionally stable mother. It is your duty to be the best that you can be mentally for your baby. You should not try to handle this on your own. Make an appointment to see a mental health professional and tell him or her what you have just explained to me above. No one will think that you are a bad mother. You will be glad that you got the help that you need. Please take care and write in and let me know how you are doing.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Nov 2006

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2006). Anger and mood swings. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2006/11/27/anger-and-mood-swings/