Jim is a successful software engineer and a happily married man with a loving wife and two lovely children. These days, he goes through a range of emotions in the matter of hours and there seems to be just one term to describe it - a roller coaster ride. When he wakes up in the morning, he feels great and looks forward to the day. Breakfast time with his family is a fun-filled time and Jim feels his normal self, joking and asking his kids about their school and friends. By lunch, his mood has darkened and he is tense and nervous. This at times results in his feeling aggressive towards his co-workers and subordinates. By end of the day, he is extremely restless and can barely wait to finish his work and head home. Back home, his mood stays unchanged. He does not want to speak to anyone or go out and do something. By late evening, Jim is feeling fine again. He is watching some old movies with his family and fondly reminiscing about the past. But as the night approaches, Jim's spirits start to sink again till he is in utter despair by midnight. Day in and day out, Jim goes through these extreme mood shifts and he is afraid that he has completely lost control of his emotions.
Jim is going through what are called Mood Swings. The most common way of defining mood swings is that they are rapidly changing moods. Capable of causing extreme emotional distress, mood swings can make you feel very lost and lonely. In fact, your reactions in certain situations may be absolutely extreme without your even realizing it. Though a very common occurrence, not many realize that they are going through mood swings, resulting in a very frustrating time for both themselves and even more so for their family members, till they seek help. Everyone goes through stress and anxiety at different stages and at different levels in their lifetime and these can cause mood swings from time to time. However, if the mood swings are frequent and are severe enough to be disrupting your life, you should seek help.
It is now estimated that mood swings and mood disorders affect a very large percentage of the population. It is quite natural for a person to have small mood changes on a daily or weekly and at times of great stress, even on a monthly basis. However, the more severe forms of mood disorders can lead to bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. In fact, persistent or severe mood swings, if left untreated can lead to very serious consequences. Studies have also shown that women tend to be more affected by mood swings than do men. Most women who experience such mood changes do so as a result of hormonal changes either during pregnancy, post-partum or during menopause.
Almost all mood swings are characterized by certain periods of extreme emotion - these periods are called episodes. There can be episodes of mania, in which you will experience a heightened sense of emotion - less sleep, an increase in talking and racing thoughts - like you are on caffeine. At the other end, there can be episodes of depression when everything is subdued. You may feel continuously sad or dejected, have great doubts about yourself and lose self-confidence. This can also start having an effect on your physical health leading to strong headaches, chronic pain and major digestive ailments.
There is no doubt that mood swings can have a devastating effect on you and your family. If undiagnosed and untreated, causes for the mood changes are not understood leading to a very frustrating time for you and a very painful time for your family. Not knowing what is triggering your mood changes, how to cope with them and how to help you when you are in these extreme moods, can be unnerving. In fact, you may feel so out of control that you may slowly stop doing all those activities that you once enjoyed for sheer fear of people seeing you when you are experiencing one of your mood swings.
Mood Swings are often confused with Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depression. However, it is important to note that mood swings are not as severe and do not last as long as the more advanced form of Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depression. In Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depression Disorder, extreme moods of depression or mania persist for many days, at times for weeks and months.
What should however be heartening to hear is that mood swings are very common and there are a variety of treatment options, from which one can choose the particular treatment option that suits them best. Further, treatment methods for mood swings have excellent success rates with almost 80-90% of all those who seek help experience great relief. Unfortunately, only about one third of those who suffer from chronic mood disorders seek help, with the rest suffering in silence. It is therefore very important for the individual, family and friends to recognize the symptoms of mood swings and seek instant help for all.