Tired of mood-swinging
January 19, 2010 10:22 AM   Subscribe

What are some good ways to combat mood swings?

I take Concerta for ADD and Zoloft for anxiety. I frequently have mood swings where the slightest remark or gesture someone makes will send me from happy to incredibly angry, like flipping a switch. A few minutes later, I'll be mostly happy again. I feel powerless to do anything about these sudden changes and I feel like I'm "broken" when I turn on the people I love and say things I don't mean. In hindsight the reasons for my anger are usually pretty petty and stupid but I'm at the mercy of my crazy emotions.

Weirdly, I can bottle things up and put on a smile when I'm in polite company. It's not until I get back home that I come unglued.

Are there any good non-prescription supplements I can take, or exercises I can do, to rein in my temper before I hurt someone (emotionally) at home? Female, early 20s, not pregnant.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
IANAD, but I'd recommend that you check with your doctor that the Concerta and/or Zoloft aren't causing these mood swings.

Other than that - breathe and count to 20 before you act on your anger (before you say anything nasty). I sympathize. I experienced 'anger' mood swings on Champix (to quit smoking) and the urge to to throw temper tantrums and tell people off was uncontrollable.
posted by kitcat at 10:53 AM on January 19, 2010

MoodGYM can help you work out your feelings on a longer timeline- for instance, if you often snap at a specific person, maybe you have an unresolved issue with them that you can address privately on that site.

And in general, I think aerobic exercise helps my moods stay regular. Try adding in a daily 20 minute run, if you don't already?
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:05 AM on January 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

Talk to your doctor. Sounds like your dosages are out of whack or you need different meds. In my experience (with someone who takes Concerta for ADD) it produces the exact opposite effect; the temper is tamed. Zoloft didn't do anything for my anxiety; Lamictal works great and also evens out my mood (though I've never had temper problems with or without it). Again, talk to your doctor, because something's not right with your meds.
posted by desjardins at 11:12 AM on January 19, 2010

Just wanted to add that I also take Lamictal and find it works great too - but to add a disclaimer, it was prescribed specifically for bipolar II moods swings. Again, like desjardins, I have never had anger issues except when taking Champix.
posted by kitcat at 11:36 AM on January 19, 2010

I frequently have mood swings where the slightest remark or gesture someone makes will send me from happy to incredibly angry, like flipping a switch.

Is the time between when someone says something and you react require any processing of what's being said? Do you think about it and then get upset about what they might have meant? Or is it more, "I feel incredibly irritated at how Suzy said 'Hi!'" and I want to scream at her?
posted by anniecat at 11:37 AM on January 19, 2010

It is my (and my therapist's) belief that I have this problem less often when I am exercising regularly and watching what I eat (i.e. avoiding carb-loading and excess sugar in favor of high-protein, more often but smaller meals). To me, this has often felt like a "physiological" rather than "psychological" problem, and treating it that way has helped some.

If you drink regularly, stop.
posted by bunnycup at 1:43 PM on January 19, 2010

If it makes you feel better, I found that my horrible early twenties mood swings have mellowed considerably over the last twenty or so years.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 2:09 PM on January 19, 2010

Besides the exercise which everybody is rightfully suggesting, the regular practice of mindfulness meditation will give you practice in noticing even the earliest physical manifestations of a mood swing. Noticing earlier will give you time to stop, remove yourself from the situation, breathe, or whatever else you've found to work -- before you get all upset.
posted by wyzewoman at 2:19 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just a really goofy datapoint -- but I take Concerta, 18mg twice a day, and at one point last year my doc suggested I might try the 27mg dosage and see if it helped me focus better. I took it for a week and then went straight back to 18mg. During that 27mg week I was ANGRY angry angry most of the time, like incredibly boiling mad at one point, hulk smash everything, etc. And that never happens to me. Haven't experienced that issue since, either. If your dosage of Concerta has been recently upped, or maybe is somehow too high (???) for you, maybe that could be a small chemical component of the anger?

Otherwise and behavioralwise, maybe keep a tiny dayplanner/moleskine notebook/something where you track when/where/how the moodswings happen, and then gradually you could look for patterns as to why it comes up. It is really satisfying when you can figure out any clues or patterns by that method.

Another guess is if you're eating or drinking anything that might interfere with the absorption or effectiveness of the medicine. Look up info on Concerta + orange juice (the acidity is said to break down and release the medicine faster than it should; I've never noticed an effect for myself but I'm cautious). Also look up Zoloft + grapefruit juice (grapefruit juice inhibits the same enzymes that work on metabolizing the Zoloft . . it can be a more serious interaction).
posted by oldtimey at 8:38 PM on January 19, 2010

Exercise helps with emotional regulation.

Also, track your mood swingyness against a calendar for a while. If your mood swings tend to cluster in the week or two before your period, you might have PMDD (sort of like a severe version of PMS).
posted by Jacqueline at 9:00 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

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