From frustration to anxiety and back again, knowing someone with extreme mood swings can be just as frustrating and anxiety-inducing for you. Mood swings can be frightening because they can happen with no warning.
5 Signs of Someone With Extreme Mood Swings
We all experience a variety of moods in a day, which is perfectly normal. It is also perfectly normal for your mood to switch from happy to sad to happy again, in response to things that make you happy, then sad, and then happy.
What is not normal is having unpredictable highs and lows that aren’t necessarily in response to something that would make you happy or sad. There is really a sliding scale when it comes to mood swings from what is normal to what is clinically diagnosable as bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is the most severe form of an extreme mood swing and the depressed phase of a bipolar mood swing can last up to 2 weeks and may require hospitalization to treat the severe depression and keep the person safe from self-harm.
A less severe form of bipolar disorder is cyclothymic disorder, which can start in childhood. In cythlothymic disorder, mood swings happen more frequently than normal but are not as severe as in bipolar disorder.
Let’s look at 5 signs that someone you know may have an extreme mood swing disorder.
1. They have a creative side
They know what it’s like to feel the extreme loneliness of the lowest depression and the exhilaration of extreme joy. Of course they want to tell the world about what it feels like to feel these extreme emotions.
People with extreme mood swings tend to be creative with either language, art, or dance and sometimes all of the above. Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Laboratories for Psychiatric Research found that there was a correlation between mood swings and measures of creativity. If you know someone with extreme mood swings, encourage them to find an outlet for their pain, fear or joy.
2. They are the life of the party, sometimes
Mood disorders and extreme mood swings tend to go from super high happiness to super low depression and everywhere in between. Someone who is sometimes the most energetic, outgoing, fun-loving, wild, party girl or guy, but who isn’t always like that, is very likely showing you a sign of having extreme mood swings.
Extreme mood swings on the high side can be frightening after the person comes back down to a normal mood. Sometimes they go on binges with alcohol, spending, drugs, or other dangerous or self-destructive behavior. During an extreme mood swing high, the person experiencing it feels invincible and may do things that could hurt them but they won’t be aware of the risk.
3. They are afraid of everything, sometimes
Panic disorder is common in someone who has extreme mood swings because their emotions are out of their control and they don’t know when the highs or lows will strike them. General anxiety or fear of having a panic attack is also common with people who experience extreme mood swings.
Fear of having an uncontrollable outburst due to a mood swing can make people fearful of being judged by others. Researchers studying panic disorder found that more than 23% of the patients with anxiety were clinically diagnosable as having bipolar disorder. 34% of the patients with anxiety problems in the study had a less severe mood disorder.
A normal mood swing is brought on by a change from a basically positive mood to a negative one after something upsetting happens. One of the signs of someone with extreme mood swings is that they fear having a mood swing.
4. They can really be a downer, sometimes
This depressed mood part of the extreme mood swings is the most difficult, potentially life-threatening, and scary for those who know someone with mood disorders. It is very hard to talk someone out of a depression, so we don’t recommend it. Instead, try supporting someone out of depression or listening them out of depression. Ask questions and listen, don’t advise.
5. They don’t think they need help.
‘I’m fine, really,’ they say as they make up a logical reason for their extremely happy or sad mood. Unfortunately, mood swings that are uncontrollable are one disorder that could benefit highly from the intervention of a professional therapist, and possibly even a medicinal helper as well.
Typically for those with normal mood swings, exercise outdoors and some social interaction will help them out of a minor depressive episode. For those with extreme mood swings, neurotransmitters in the brain may be too far out of balance and a pharmaceutical remedy may be needed. Seek the help of a licensed doctor of psychology who can work with you to find the right prescription for your extreme mood swings.