Please do not consider this an official diagnosis at all, that could only be done by a mental health professional in person. These are simply some thoughts that would be rule-out scenarios if I heard this story in person.
The first thing I notice is a clear description of the mother’s behavior. The keywords are tumultuous, illicit drugs, promiscuous, mood swings, and aggressive. This collection of issues can occur as a result of many different possibilities‚ but the first one to jump out as a cohesive explanation is a bipolar disorder. Again — please realize I am responding to this much in the same way I might to a graduate school essay where a list of symptoms is given and you are asked to give a response that makes the most sense and why.
- Feelings of euphoria and elation or irritability and anger
- Impulsive, high-risk behavior, including grand shopping sprees, drug and alcohol abuse, and sexual promiscuity
- Aggressive behavior
- Increased energy and rapid speech
- Fleeting, often grandiose ideas
- Decreased sleep (typically the individual doesn’t feel tired after as few as three hours of sleep)
- Decreased appetite
- Difficulty concentrating; disorganized thoughts
- Inflated self-esteem
- Delusions and hallucinations (in severe cases)
I’ve added the italics to show that each of the behaviors you’ve mentioned is clearly stated here as part of that disorder. In addition, bipolar disorders tend to run in families, meaning that if mom has these symptoms and if they were indicative of a bipolar disorder her daughter may have a predisposition. Again I want to emphasize this now is speculation on top of speculation. Yet, you have said that “…whenever my stepdaughter is experiencing excitement/ happiness she has a mood swing that makes her throw somewhat of a tantrum.” This means that she will have expansive feelings followed by irritation with rapidly changing moods that are destructive detrimental tantrums. You mention this with two examples in your email.
Again, if I were taking that test again in graduate school I’d make the recommendation that the child is evaluated by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist to rule out childhood bipolar disorder, and this is what I’ll recommend for you and your husband.
Wishing you patience and peace,
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