Mood swings

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  • Extreme and rapid changes in moods, often times in ways that are totally unpredictable
  • Feeling “bipolar”, or being told by others that you appear “bipolar”
  • Feeling elated and exuberant and then plummeting into overwhelming sadness
  • Feeling like a “Jekyll and Hyde”
  • Uncontrollable rage and anger
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What are withdrawal-induced mood swings?

Given that psychiatric drugs can lead to profound changes in the central nervous system, one of the most common effects of both taking and coming off these medications are changes in mood that can be anywhere from minor and manageable to absolutely, overwhelmingly intense and unbearable. Unfortunately, because many medical and mental health professionals are trained to see mood swings as “symptoms” of “mental illness”, many people experiencing drug- or withdrawal-induced mood swings are often told (or come to believe on their own) that they are having a “relapse” of their “underlying condition”, or are even diagnosed with an entirely new “illness” altogether. This often leads to new medications or therapies that only worsen problems and further distract from what’s actually going on: the central nervous system has been temporarily impaired by psychiatric medications, leading to disruptions in mood, and it needs time to heal.

While healing from psychiatric drugs, it’s common to experience increased sensitivities and vulnerabilities that make it difficult to feel a sense of emotional stability. Seemingly “small” triggers can lead to explosions of rage, despair, or irritability. Some people report feeling “on top of the world” one day (or one minute) only to suddenly feel like they’re “in the depths of hell” the next. When feeling “on top of the world”, the level of exuberance and elation can feel so intense that it leads people to wonder whether they’re having a “manic episode”. The unpredictability and intensity of these mood changes lead many to become afraid of their own minds, and even afraid to be around others or out in public at all because at any minute their emotional state could completely transform into something else. People describe feeling “possessed”, “like Jekyll and Hyde”, and “totally crazy”. They often feel totally powerless and out of control over their emotions, as if they’re stuck on a rollercoaster without any brakes. And they describe how hard it can be to stay feeling supported by others who, understandably, start to find it increasingly difficult to be around them.


Photo courtesy of SeRGioSVoX and Flickr Creative Commons