Q. A few years ago, my husband began suffering from what I describe as mood swings. At first, he got extremely depressed and angry. The mood swings were few and far between and mostly more like sadness/depression.

Lately, in the past three or so months, it seems like these mood swings are at least once a week. He gets extremely frustrated and doesn’t know why. He says he just has so many thoughts running through his head and he can’t stop them. He is quick to focus his frustration/anger on me. When he is like this he cannot sleep and gets angry at me if I do go to sleep.

He gets extremely frustrated and angry very easily. Sometimes he even gets so angry/frustrated that he hits walls, throws things or even hits himself. This behavior is so outside the range of his “normal” self. I’ve been with him for over 15 years and there is definitely something different going on. It’s very difficult for me to talk to him when he is in one of these states because he just seems to get more and more frustrated and angry. He acknowledges that something is not right but neither one of us know where to start looking for help given we cannot really pinpoint the problem (anxiety, depression, etc.)

A. It is important that he seeks help for this problem. You mentioned that he has suffered these symptoms for years but it seems that the violence has only recently begun. There are several reasons to explain his behavior none of which I could know with any certainty. One is that his symptoms are overwhelming him and he has truly lost control of himself. Two other possibilities include that he may be using drugs or there is something physically wrong with him that is causing him to become violent and behave in an out of control manner. Whatever the case, he needs to be seen by a mental health professional.

Not only should you be concerned about your husband’s symptoms and behavior but you should be cognizant of your own safety. He has acted out violently and this indicates that he is capable of hurting himself and maybe, out of desperation, or inability to control himself, he may be capable of hurting you as well. He is already taking out his anger on your verbally. Please don’t minimize this possibility. People, out of desperation, fear, and confusion, can act in ways that are not characteristic of their “normal” self.

Be careful and encourage him to get help. What is encouraging is that he acknowledges and recognizes that he has a problem; now the next step is that he get into to see a therapist right away. Make an appointment with a mental health professional; this is where he needs to start. Take care.