Mood swings are a common experience for many people. However, when these shifts in mood become extreme and disrupt daily life, making it hard to do everyday tasks, it may be a sign of a more serious condition called bipolar disorder. Distinguishing between common mood swings and bipolar disorder is important for understanding the condition and providing the appropriate support.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 18, 2023 bipolar, bipolar disorder, Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, medication management, mental illness, mood swing, psychiatric assessment, psychiatric services0 comments
What Are Mood Swings?
Mood swings are defined as “a sudden or intense change in emotional state” (Leonard, 2020). They are a typical part of the human experience and can be effected by various factors such as stress, hormonal changes, lack of sleep, or relational conflicts. Mood swings may involve fairly quick shifts in mood, such as happiness to sadness, or irritability to calmness. These shifts are usually brief and do not drastically impact daily functioning or impair relationships with others.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
On the other hand, bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition illustrated by clear episodes of more drastic mood swings that vary in intensity and duration. It involves extreme shifts between two opposites: manic episodes and depressive episodes. During manic episodes, people may experience elevated mood, boosts in energy, impulsivity, and grandiose thoughts, such as heightened self-esteem. In depressive episodes, people can feel overwhelming sadness, loss of interest in activities, increased fatigue, and feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. These episodes can last for weeks or even months and significantly interfere with daily life, work, and relationships.
Differentiating Between Mood Swings and Bipolar Disorder
Several major factors help distinguish everyday mood swings from bipolar disorder. First, consider the duration and intensity of mood shifts. While mood swings are short-lived and relatively mild, bipolar disorder episodes are more severe and persistent. Second, look at how the mood swings impact one’s daily functioning. Mood swings usually do not affect one’s ability to carry out their responsibilities, while bipolar disorder can have a great impact on one’s personal and professional life. Finally, the frequency of mood shifts are important to consider. Bipolar disorder episodes occur in distinct cycles, while mood swings are not as predictable.
If you or someone you know experiences mood swings that resemble the symptoms of bipolar disorder, it is important to seek professional help, as a psychiatric evaluation may be necessary for a diagnosis. Some treatment recommendations for bipolar disorder may include medication, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), psychoeducation, and family therapy. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder, and taking the steps to get help and support, can significantly improve the quality of life for those who have the condition. Understanding the key differences between mood swings and bipolar disorder can help individuals seek appropriate treatment and support they may need.
Written by Counseling Intern Téa Del Rio.
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If you’re seeking a psychiatric assessment for bipolar disorder, personalized medication management, or counseling services, we’re here to help. Reach out to us today at 412-856-WELL or simply fill out the form below to take the first step towards your well-being. Our team is ready to support you on your journey.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
Leonard, J. (2020). What causes mood swings in males and females. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/mood-swings
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJune 12, 2023 depression, depression counseling, depression therapy, major depressive disorder, managing depression, mental health, mental illness, stress management0 comments
If you are managing depression and finding it challenging to handle your responsibilities, know that you are not alone. Major depressive disorder (MDD) can have a significant impact, but with recovery and symptom reduction, there is hope. Here are some tips that may assist you in managing depression while fulfilling your obligations:
- Seek professional help: Never suffer alone, It is important to seek professional help from a mental health therapist or psychiatric provider who can help you manage your depression and provide you with tools to cope with your responsibilities.
- Prioritize your tasks: Make a list of your responsibilities and prioritize them based on their importance. Focus on completing the most important tasks first and break them down into smaller, more manageable steps.
- Ask for help from your support system: Some of the symptoms of depression may make it hard to feel the motivation to ask for help. Remember that is the depressive thought pattern talking. Your support system wants to help you! They may be able to assist you with some of your responsibilities as well as provide you with emotional support.
- Set SMART goals: Set realistic goals for yourself and celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. Setting small, achievable goals can help you feel a sense of accomplishment and boost your mood.
- Use positive self-talk: Remember negative thinking patterns are a part of depression. Reframe those cognitive distortions and use positive self-talk to motivate yourself and combat negative thoughts. Instead of focusing on what you haven’t accomplished, focus on what you have accomplished and what you can do in the future.
- Create a routine: Establishing a daily routine can help create a sense of structure and stability, which can be helpful in managing depression.
- Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally is important for managing depression. This can include things like eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities that bring you joy.
- Exercise to boost your mood: While getting up and moving around might be the last thing you feel like doing if you are suffering from depression, it will have a rapid impact on your energy. Try this YouTube video created by one of our therapists: 3 Minute Exercises for Depression For When It’s Hard to Get Out of Bed.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises, can help you manage negative thoughts and emotions. Breathing exercises like the breath of fire can add energy to your body.
- Challenge negative thoughts: Depression can cause negative thoughts and self-talk. It’s important to challenge these thoughts and replace them with more positive and realistic ones.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs: While Depression may make a quick fix like drugs and alcohol seem more appealing, substances will worsen depression symptoms and make it more difficult to manage the disorder.
- Get outside: Spending time in nature and getting fresh air and sunlight can help improve your mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
- Consider medication: Antidepressant medication can be helpful in managing depression symptoms. Talk to a psychiatric provider who can support your need for medication management and help you to determine whether medication might be right for you.
- Be patient and kind to yourself: Managing depression takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories along the way. Remember to be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. Remember that managing depression and responsibilities can be challenging, but with the right tools and support, it is possible to lead a fulfilling life.
In conclusion, managing depression while fulfilling your responsibilities can be a challenging journey, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Major depressive disorder (MDD) may have a significant impact, but there is hope for recovery and symptom reduction. By implementing the tips provided you can navigate this path with resilience and strength. Remember, managing depression takes time and effort, so celebrate every small victory along the way. With the right tools, support, and self-compassion, it is possible to lead a fulfilling life despite the challenges of depression. You have the power to find balance and reclaim your well-being.
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If you are looking for depression counseling or medication management services, please fill out the form below or give us a call at 412-322-2129. We’re here to help!
Written by Stephanie Wijkstrom, LPC, NCC is a licensed counselor and Founder of Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh. Stephanie is passionate about offering clinical development and professional training to her team of 85 licensed counselors and behavioral health care professionals. Stephanie’s clinical specialty lies in preventative mental health care and integrative wellness strategies.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 14, 2022 bipolar disorder, Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, depression, manic depression, medicine, mental health, mental health awareness, mental illness, mood swing, preventing suicide0 comments
As a therapist I have had many clients who were diagnosed with or in the process of being identified as having Bipolar I Disorder. Similarly, I recognize experiences with acquaintances whose personalities seemed to dramatically change over time. Before learning more about bipolar disorder, I wondered what had caused these changes, was it me, them, or had our relationships simply changed.
Bipolar I Disorder was once called manic depression because a person with this diagnosis often swings from extreme highs and lows as part of mania and depression phases. Typically, mania involves extreme increases in energy levels and reduced sleep needs, risky and impulsive behaviors, poor decision making, restlessness, and irritability among other symptoms. During a manic episode, a person may feel invincible, on top of the world, and as though nothing can stand in the way of success.
And after, depression occurs as part of a cycle—what goes up, must come down. As good as the mania feels, the depression feels equally bad, including extreme symptoms of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness/helplessness. Both mania and depression symptoms may occur for several days as part of a repeated cycle. A person can become psychotic during each phase, seeing, hearing, or smelling things that are not there. Likewise, a person may experience suicidal ideation during each phase of bipolar disorder, wanting to end their cycle of pain, poor decision making, and confusion about what happened.
Without treatment a person with Bipolar I Disorder can cycle more regularly between mania and depression, also experiencing more extreme symptoms of each. Examples could be a person quitting their job, filing for divorce, or trying to end their life. Bipolar I Disorder can be difficult to diagnose. This is because mood swings may look different for different people. Additionally, symptoms of mania, including jumpiness, anxiety, and restlessness, may be confused with a generalized anxiety disorder. Distractibility can be confused with ADHD. Depression can look like a simple depressive disorder.
Diagnosis and treatment for a bipolar disorder may not occur until a trained mental health professional observes the significant and long-lasting symptoms of mania and depression as part of a recurrent cycle. Likewise, obtaining a history of similar symptoms among family members can be critical for making a bipolar diagnosis. Additionally, knowing a history of recent trauma as potentially triggering the beginning of the mania/depression cycle might be helpful.
The good news is that there is help to better regulate mood swings and return to a more stable lifestyle. As with any other medical condition, taking medications has proven beneficial for feeling more in control of mania/depression symptoms. Mental health therapy, including individual therapy, couples/marital therapy, and family therapy, has been proven helpful for understanding the impact of having bipolar symptoms, including how we perceive ourselves and are perceived by others.
Supportive therapy can help people with a bipolar diagnosis learn how to create balances between working excessively, staying up late, doing drugs, drinking too much alcohol, and building financial safeguards for preventing overspending. Establishing a supportive circle of friends, professionals, and community resources is usually part of feeling better about self and the world. Keeping mood diaries through various apps can help people monitor potential mood swings.
I look at the world today as being more humane and supportive of people with a mental illness like Bipolar I or II. However, it remains essential that a person with manic/depression symptoms recognize the advancements in treatment of this disorder and reach out for help.
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh is here to help if you are experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder. Please contact us at 412-322-2129 if you need support.Learn More