My ability to control my feelings has changed

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have noticed in the last couple of months an increase in the inability to control my overall sate of well being. I go from days of intense happiness, with heavy amounts of panic attacks, to weeks of apathy towards everything, but with no attacks. My changes in moods don’t really seem to be triggered by anything, but they constantly seem to go from one extreme to another in about 6 weeks. I was wondering what i can do that can not necessarily eliminate the cycle but even it out a bit?

A: The most important statement in your letter is that this is a significant change that has occurred in the past few months. For that reason, the first thing you do is talk to your doctor. At your age (18), the first suspect for such a radical change in your behavior and feelings is any birth control method that involves altering your hormones. Even if you’ve been using the same birth control for some time with no negative effects, your body may have adapted to it and now is reacting differently. If you are using birth control, please talk to whoever is prescribing it. If you’re not on birth control, and you’re sure you’re not pregnant, there are many other medical issues that can cause a change in your emotions. You want to have a thorough checkup before you turn to psychological distress as an explanation. If it turns out that there are no medical or medication issues, then it may be time to confer with a counselor.

Feeling so out of control of yourself must be scary. There’s something about your letter that leads me to think you are pretty levelheaded, though. I suspect that taking some action to take care of yourself by making and keeping appointments will in itself help you feel better. You can also learn more ways to calm yourself through the panic attacks. Slow deep breathing, meditation, or a practice like yoga is often helpful. As for the times of apathy: That’s the time to make yourself do something – almost anything. Apathy breeds more apathy. Doing something as simple as taking a shower or going for a walk may nudge you into more activity.

I’m very glad you wrote. You were right to ask for help as soon as you recognized this new pattern in your feelings. By taking action now, you may spare yourself months of anguish.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Apr 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). My ability to control my feelings has changed. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/04/10/my-ability-to-control-my-feelings-has-changed/