Severe Mood Changes

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

While growing up, my father always yelled at me and I was spanked and hit quite a few times. Then, when i was 19 I was raped; I was also raped again in 2007, by a group of guys. From 2003-2009 I lived wtih my Mom, stepfather, and grandmother. Actually in 2009, my grandmother was kicked out of their house and I went with her, because she’s elderly and knew she couldnt survive on her own. So, now it’s me, my grandmother, and my 20 month old daughter living in a 2 bedroom apartment. Ever since we moved out from my parents, my mom has been coming to me everytime her and her husband have a problem. A couple of months ago, we all got into a huge fight, and my stepfather made hand gestures like he was going to choke and hit me. Now, my temper seems to be soaring way up there… I’m afraid of what I might do to myself ( I have tried to kill myself in the past). I would never dream of hurting my daughter, I love her way too much for that. That’s why I’m asking for help because I don’t ever want to get near that point. Anyways, but now, it seems every time there’s a problem in the house, it’s my fault. I’m not working right now, because I just finished school, but am looking for work. Anyways, my mood swings are like night and day. I cry everyday… Mostly out of frustration from all the stress in my life. Many times in my mind I can see myself throwing my wrists against a bunch of glass bottles, until they break. I want to throw things all the time especially when I get angry or upset. I scream and yell at anyone who’s around me and sadly, sometimes i do yell at my daughter. She’s so precious and doesn’t deserve that… I love her with all my heart, but I’m scared because I know I’m not right mentally…. I feel like I cant’ control my moods at all, I want to throw everything in my sight, especially when I get frustrated… The doctor put me on Seroquel (100mg) and Zoloft (200mg), but another dr took me off the Seroquel because it made me into a zombie… What do I do?

A. You’ve tried medication but have you tried therapy? Medication can be helpful for managing your moods but it is sometimes not effective when it comes to changing behavior. The medications you’ve tried have made you feel like a “zombie.” Many report that same experience. Trying a new medicine may correct this problem.

It often takes trial and error before you can find a medication that works best. At this point, you know that the Zoloft and Seroquel combination isn’t helpful. I would recommend that you speak to your doctor about finding a different medicine or combination of medications. Remember, it may take a while to find a medication combination that is satisfactory to you, has manageable side effects and improves your symptoms. This process could take weeks, months or even years.

Medication may provide you some relief but I wouldn’t recommend using it alone to manage your symptoms. You mentioned that oftentimes you feel like screaming or crying. You also tend towards self-harm and wanting to attempt suicide. As you correctly recognize you have a daughter to care for and your behavior may be negatively impacting her.

At this point you seem to have a maladaptive way of handling stress. The good news is that you are capable of learning a new problem-solving skill set. You may need someone to teach you these skills. It would also be beneficial to address the traumas you’ve experienced such as the rape and abuse. You’re dealing with many issues, past and present, seemingly without any help or support. Therapy is the ideal place to address all of these issues.

I don’t think you should put off getting help because as you’ve noted, you’re feeling as though you are “not right mentally.” It is also important that you seek assistance because your daughter needs a mentally stable mother. My recommendation would be to seek professional help from a mental health counselor and to consult your doctor about trying a different medication.

Lastly, if you are feeling suicidal go to the hospital or call 911. You could also call 1-800-273-TALK. That’s the number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Counselors are available 24/7 if you are feeling upset or suicidal. Their website can be found at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Jul 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Severe Mood Changes. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/07/20/severe-mood-changes-2/