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.
Interested in a Psychiatric Assessment for Bipolar Disorder or Counseling?
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 PittsburghMay 4, 2023 Antidepressants, depression, medication management, medicine, psychiatric services, psychiatry0 comments
Depression is a common mental health disorder that can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. According to the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people worldwide experience depression. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, you may be wondering, “Do I Need Antidepressants?”
Here are some signs that antidepressants might be right for you:
- You have been diagnosed with depression: If you have been diagnosed with depression by a healthcare professional, they may recommend antidepressants as part of your treatment plan. Antidepressants can be an effective treatment for moderate to severe depression.
- You have tried other treatments without success: If you have tried other treatments for depression, such as therapy or lifestyle changes, without success, antidepressants may be a good option. Antidepressants can be used alone or in combination with other treatments to manage symptoms of depression.
- Your symptoms are interfering with your daily life: If your symptoms of depression are interfering with your ability to function in your daily life, antidepressants may be a good option. Symptoms of depression can include feelings of sadness or hopelessness, lack of interest in activities, changes in appetite or sleep, and difficulty concentrating.
- You have a family history of depression: If you have a family history of depression, you may be at an increased risk of developing depression yourself. Antidepressants may be a good option for preventing or managing symptoms of depression.
- You have suicidal thoughts or behaviors: If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors, it is important to seek help from a healthcare professional immediately. Antidepressants can be an effective treatment for managing suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
It’s important to note that the decision to take antidepressants should be made in consultation with a psychiatrist or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner . They can help determine the most appropriate course of treatment for your individual needs and monitor your progress while taking antidepressants. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or other mental health conditions, please seek help from a mental health professional.
Antidepressants and Therapy
Antidepressants and therapy are two common treatments for depression, and they can be used together to improve outcomes. While antidepressants can help alleviate the symptoms of depression by balancing certain chemicals in the brain, therapy can help individuals develop skills and strategies to manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. In this way, the combination of antidepressants and therapy can be a powerful approach to treating depression.
Here are some ways in which antidepressants can help depression in conjunction with therapy:
- Antidepressants can alleviate symptoms of depression: Antidepressants can help alleviate symptoms of depression, such as feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or lack of interest in activities. This can make it easier for individuals to engage in therapy and learn coping skills.
- Antidepressants can enhance the effectiveness of therapy: Antidepressants can help reduce symptoms of depression, which can enhance the effectiveness of therapy. When individuals are not overwhelmed by their symptoms, they may be more able to engage in therapy and make progress.
- Antidepressants can prevent relapse: Antidepressants can help prevent relapse of depression by maintaining the balance of certain chemicals in the brain that affect mood. This can be especially important for individuals who have experienced multiple episodes of depression or who are at risk of relapse.
- Therapy can help address underlying issues: Therapy can help individuals identify and address underlying issues that may be contributing to their depression, such as past trauma or relationship problems. This can help them develop skills to manage these issues and prevent future episodes of depression.
- Therapy can help individuals learn coping skills: Therapy can teach individuals coping skills to manage their symptoms of depression, such as relaxation techniques, problem-solving skills, and stress management strategies. These skills can be especially helpful when combined with antidepressant medication.
It’s also important to note that antidepressants are not a cure for depression. While they can be effective in managing symptoms, they are not a substitute for therapy or other forms of treatment. Therapy can help you learn coping skills, develop healthy habits, and address any underlying issues that may be contributing to your depression.
It’s important to remember that the decision to start taking antidepressants is a personal one and should be made in consultation with a psychiatrist or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. They can help you weigh the potential benefits and risks of antidepressants and determine the best course of treatment for your individual needs. Additionally, it’s important to continue therapy or other treatments while taking antidepressants to maximize their effectiveness.
Find Out “Are Antidepressants Right for Me?” With An Evaluation
If you are interested in an evaluation to see if antidepressants are the right fit for you, call us at 412-322-2129 or fill out the form below.