Mood Changes, Low Self-Esteem and Attitude Change

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I looked through the questions, but I felt that I just needed someone to answer mine. Lately (few months ago) I have been getting mood swings from being happy to angry to sad. I have normally always had a bad temper, but lately anything makes me angry and then I get upset easily and cry or just feel depressed, then there are days when I am so happy nothing brings me down. My mother gets mad at me over anything on some days then she is my best friend on others and that really upsets me too, usually I don’t get as angry with her, but now I do, also people like my friends or even my boyfriend have been getting on my nerves, but then I am sad when they are not there, and happy when I see them, but then get annoyed which I never did. Then I also have said things to them and my family that I feel guilty about later which it’s not bad things I just don’t wanna bother people.

I do not want to see it has to do with being a teenager because I don’t feel like one, my high school years I was just depressed and use to cut and just not feel happy, but then it changed to being happy, which I just called being normal, having normal moods. I have always felt ugly and fat, since I was young, but there are days like when I am happy that I do feel pretty. I was thinking it could have been because my cat died a few months ago, but I had been getting these mood changes before about a year ago, I just think maybe my cat’s death made it worse.

I do feel suicidal at times, but I know I won’t go that far and I do prefer to be alone sometimes, but when I am I just feel worse, and at school I tend to think people just hate me until they say hi or something. I don’t feel school is a pressure either it’s just normal because my mom had thought that was the source of my mood, but I doubt it. One more thing is I tend to look for comfort from buying things or people buying me things, I always want to buy something especially when I am down or mad, then when I get it I realize I didn’t really need it or it did not make me as happy as I wanted it too. Then I go look for something else. I would go talk to a psychologist, but my mom does not believe in that and would never pay for it. I just want an idea or opinion on what could be going on with me. Thanks.

A. It seems as though you’re generally unhappy with life. You may have depression. As you mentioned, you are also experiencing low self-esteem. You don’t feel good about yourself and you refer to yourself as a bother. Fundamentally, you probably feel inferior to others. You may also believe that you are unworthy or unlovable. Generally, this is a common line of thinking among individuals with depression.

In addition, a troublesome pattern may be developing related to shopping when you’re depressed. You recognize that it does not bring you comfort but you continue the behavior. This can lead to compulsive shopping. Shopping temporarily makes you feel better and this feeling, albeit short-lived, can be addicting. That is the nature of addictions. Some people realize it is wrong but they continue to do it because they thrive on the temporary relief it brings. The problem is the relief is short-lived. It’s akin to drug use. Their purpose is the same: to temporarily suppress the depression and to feel some semblance of normalcy and happiness. Your “drug of choice” may be shopping.

This behavior may have developed because during your childhood or adolescence, if you were depressed, a caregiver treated you with a gift and naturally it made you feel better. You may have then associated shopping with positive feelings. Another possible explanation is that you witnessed one or both of your parents shopping when they felt depressed. Other possibilities exist but these are two plausible explanations to account for your preference for shopping.

I am not diagnosing you as having a shopping addiction; I am suggesting there may be a possible pattern developing. It is important to point out this behavior because once you become aware of it, you can intervene before the problem worsens (hopefully with the help of a mental health professional).

It is also important to remember that your moodiness or depression may eventually decrease. I have known many teenagers who have had similar complaints and eventually, as they grew older, were able to overcome their negative feelings and lead a positive life. I’m not suggesting that you are going through a “phase.” I’m simply saying that there are occasions when people have difficult times in their life and for various reasons, their negative feelings and behaviors diminish over time. This may be because self-esteem generally increases as one accomplishes more in life. For example, if an individual graduates college or lands a good job, this might enhance their self-esteem and cause negative feelings to decrease or eventually dissipate.

There are several possible ways to address this situation. The first is related to your mother and her reluctance to allow you to attend treatment. You could give her this letter. If she knew that you wrote a letter to a mental health professional she may change her mind about allowing you to see one. The second thing you could do is talk to the school counselor. Tell him or her about what you wrote in his letter and that you would like to receive treatment for depression. You may be able to receive help at the school. The school counselor, if he or she felt you needed more intense treatment, could speak to your mother about a possible referral to a mental health professional. The third action you could take is to read self-help books about teenagers who have had depression or problems managing their mood. The preferable method of intervention, however, is that you speak to your parents or a mental health professional.

Thank you for your question. I wish you the best of luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Oct 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Mood Changes, Low Self-Esteem and Attitude Change. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/10/05/mood-changes-low-self-esteem-and-attitude-change/