How Hormone Swings Can Lead to Mood Swings

People often wonder whether mood swings stem from too much of a hormone (excess) or too little (deficiency). In fact, while each of these situations can produce moodiness, most often it is big fluctuations in hormone levels that leads to pronounced swings in mood. How do these highs and lows in hormones come about, and how can you help prevent this mind-body roller-coaster?

Our moods and hormones are affected by the stress and emotions we feel on a regular basis. While the solution of “… so get rid of any anxiety, depression, or anger” may spring to mind, that is the opposite of what we want to do when trying to relieve mood imbalances. The biggest contributor of hormone imbalance, other than the natural decline of hormones with age, is suppression of stress and emotions. We don’t always let ourselves feel what we’re going through, and when the body has to resist processing emotions or stress like it naturally wants to do, the effects these feelings have on health can become chronic.

For example, say you have a bad day including work traffic, some social conflicts with friends, horrible treatment from your boss, and when you get home you can’t relax or sleep at night. You have no appetite either, yet you tell yourself to be strong and muscle through this and the next day. Cortisol levels are rising to deal with your stress, but as you turn off your mental response to the daily pressures, your body shuts off too and obeys your mind in dulling its nervous system response to what is happening in your world. Cortisol and hormone levels then go through manic and depressive highs and lows, because the body and mind are not allowed to naturally process the emotions that are coming up for you.

What happens next? Mood swings. If the emotions were dealt with as they came up, they wouldn’t build up so much in the body, and the release needed wouldn’t be so big. With suppression of emotions, however, the body reacts more like a volcano in that when the feelings do finally surface–they erupt! The body doesn’t enjoy extremes in health, and it functions better when you work with the homeostasis (or equilibrium) it tries to maintain. It may seem counterintuitive, but suppression of emotions doesn’t keep things calm, cool, or collected like we may imagine in the moment.

Which hormones are affected by the highs and lows in stress and cortisol levels? For women, they tend to include estrogen and progesterone most often, and for men testosterone is most affected. In addition, the thyroid gland and pancreatic hormones also respond, which can lead to some thyroid and blood sugar imbalances. What do all these changes tend to create in the body? Even more mood disruptions. This can become a vicious cycle.

With the close relationship mood has to hormones in the body, the best healthy living practice you can have is to simply ask yourself once in a while, “How am I feeling?” Recognize that your mind has the unhelpful ability to order yourself not to feel, and that this habit is not healthy even though it can feel like it’s simplifying life in the moment. This is a challenge for everyone. The more you let your natural emotions exist and recognize that they’re normal, the more balanced your hormones and moods will feel.


Taking Advantage of the Positive Side of Certain Compulsive Behaviors

I remember when I was a child playing war with plastic soldiers my friends would get mad waiting for me to arrange my battalions properly in straight lines before the battle started. Later on when at home preparing to do my homework I would spend time arranging my books in order, pencils and pens on one side, sharpener and calculator in another. Everything was set within my reach in the order that I would be using them. My older sister would sometimes come along and mess everything up just to make me mad and I would stop working just to set it up again.

It is something I fought against for many years but was never able to get rid of the order nuisance, like my mother called it. Believe it or not my teenage room was always in perfect order too, my clothes, cd’s, shoes, everything had a specific place where it had to be. I never considered it a problem; it is a part of the way I am. My friends and family called me crazy and many times lost their patience waiting for everything to be just right. And then I went to the university and everything changed, all my classmates wanted to study with me, everybody wanted to work on their projects with me, from being the worst I became the best.

I studied industrial and electric engineering, we had lots of projects, terms and procedures to study and learn and not enough time to do it in. From the very beginning there was a difference between my classmates and myself, my compulsion turned into an asset. I worked on my projects fast and efficiently, I programmed my classes and study time perfectly and in the specific order my mind dictated. I graduated second in my class behind someone who was believed even crazier than I was. During the four years we were in the university we had the opportunity to work together several times and we were dynamite together. Today he is a consultant for NASA and I am a writer retired from engineering.

It is up to each one of us to accept special characteristics and eccentric ways of doing things that we have. It is up to each one of us to learn how to use them to our advantage. Most of the time it is much easier to find a way to use certain behaviors positively than trying to change them. In fact you may waste years trying to correct or change these behaviors and will never be able to do it. It does not matter what people think about you or your ways, what matters is what you think about yourself and what you do with what you have. The only way to be happy in life is first to be happy and satisfied with the way you are as a person, not what you do or how much you have but who you are.

It does not matter how old you are, what you do or what you want to do if at this point in your life you have not come to terms with yourself, now is the time to do. Everybody in the world has a reason to be in this world, in one way or another we are all part of a larger scheme, a larger picture. It is not fair to be unhappy with yourself, if you are; you will make those around you unhappy too. This is not fair; we each have our own problems and situations to resolve. Look at yourself, look at what is inside of you, accept who you are and be happy. You owe it to yourself and those who love and care for you.

Life is too short to waste it complaining or trying to change what you can’t change. Embrace life and turn those supposedly negative characteristics into great assets for your life and that of your family. Success and happiness are in your mind and heart, no one is going to give them to you, your destiny and your life are yours to accomplish. Each human being shares his or her life with others but the way you feel about yourself and the way you travel on this road called life is your choice and no one else’s.

What Is Electric Shock Therapy or Electro-Convulsant Therapy?

A negative spin was put on ECT (Electro Convulsant Therapy) or Electric Shock Therapy in Ken Kesey’s book,”One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and the subsequent movie with Jack Nicholson. The book was published in 1962 and the movie released in 1975 were possibly the leading cause of ECT’s stigma. And yet ECT became accepted and used in the U.S. and worldwide in 1960.

Ken Kesey had worked the graveyard shift as an orderly at a mental facility in Menlo Park, California. He was also taking LSD voluntarily and other psychoactive drugs. He ascribed LSD and mesculine as part of Project MKUltra (the voluntary experimental government project) espousing its use as the best access to the human psyche.

Kesey became sympathetic to psychiatric patients and critical of treatments of the time which admittedly included drugs that were not very effective, various forms of seizure therapy, ECT or Electric Shock Therapy and of course frontal lobotomy. He felt the institutions were only a vehicle towards mind control.

In 1975 Kesey’s book was banned from some public schools as too biased. The epitome of the counter-culture of the 60’s he subsequently led a secluded life in his home state of Oregon the setting of the novel. In the novel nothing stigmatizes hospitalization more than nurse Ratched and the narrator “Chief” Bromden”. I say all this as a prelude to telling the real story of ECT’s development and its remarkable role in treatment of Major Depression Disorder and Bipolar Depression today.

Certainly when first put into use ECT got a bad rap as the procedure led to broken bones before muscle paralytics were used.

The History of Electro Convulsant Therapy or Electric Shock Therapy

As to the history of any kind of seizures used for mental illness including schizophrenia this is the fascinating part of the story. As far back as the 19th century it was observed that head trauma, seizures and fever improved symptoms of mental patients in insane asylums. Dramatic improvement in long term patients was seen surreptitiously.

In 1917 Dr. Wagner-Jauregg found that “insane patients” improved after develping infections from typhoid fever. The most common disease leading to institutionalization at the time was tertiary syphilis. Malaria INDUCED fever also seemed to improve the neurological symptoms. The association of the specific mosquito vector in 1895 allowed for creating malaria in syphilitic patients.

In 1927 Manfred J. Sakel in Berlin induced seizures by administering insulin to non-diabetics to induce hypoglycemia to the point of seizure led to improvement in schizophrenic patients and psychotic patients with depression or mania.

Of course glucose levels and insulin doses could not be quantified so levels of sugar went beyond seizure and sometimes to death. This became known as insulin-shock therapy. “Sakel’s technique” became routine for treatment of these ailments in Vienna in 1930 and in the U.S. in 1934. In 1939 a study of 1700 cases of schizophrenia showed complete or partial improvement in sixty-three per-cent using this treatment.

In 1933 a Hungarian man named Ladislau von Meduna tried various chemicals injected intravenously to induce seizures. He settled upon metrazol. The latter had been used to treat folks with seizure disorders and he tried using the drug for depression. Although effective the seizures were too severe and caused multiple bone fractures.

Finally in 1937 Drs. Cerletti and Bini in Rome used electric shock to induce seizures. Seizure was induced by passing electric current across the head. Although highly effective the lack of general anesthesia and muscle relaxants led to great stigma due to wakefulness and bone fractures. By sedating and administering muscle paralytics seizures could only be seen on EEG. The procedure became used world-wide n the 1950s.

The methodology, including alternate day treatments with the paddle placed on just one temple is still used today. The average number of treatments then and now is about ten. More stigma and mercenary use of unlimited treatments is still a problem today with the advent of free-standing ECT units and monetary gain for the physician and facility. As a nephrologist I see this incentive today in the form of placing patients on dialysis who are futile care and with co-morbid diseases allowing for no quality of life.

The only side-effects are transient nausea, vomiting and retrograde amnesia for events just prior to the procedure and some days beyond that. The possibility of creating permanent memory loss can occur when treatments are spread out indefinitely.

Current opinion is that if not improved after eight or ten treatments than the ECT should be considered a failure and stopped. Some psychiatrists are advocates of maintenance ECT every three months (one treatment) to prevent further episodes of depression. This is also controversial. Another area of controversy is the use of ECT for the depression seen in demented patients due to vascular or senile dementia or Alzheimer’s. One has to wonder again about when treatment becomes for mercenary gain.

ECT has been shown to have a 65% remission rate compared to medications but should be used only when medications have failed or caused side-effects. Treatment of major depression with Electro Convulsant Therapy in pregnant women is the treatment of choice as the newer medications’ deleterious effect on the fetus or drugs that have not been around long enough to know whether there is teratogenicity.

Rapid Cycling in Bipolar Disorder

Rapid cycling is not a fast ride on a unicycle, though it might certainly be close the experience. The fact is this is the most disabling type of bipolar disorder and the most difficult to treat. During such episodes people are more likely to need hospitalization and are most at risk for suicide.

Most people with bipolar disorder will have one episode of major depression or mania in a year. Some folks have episodes of mania, hypo-mania or depression four or more times with in a year. Cycling between them may occur as frequently as days or hours. Other conditions may seem like rapid cycling but without the full number of symptoms that define either depression or mania. Examples include withdrawal from alcohol or drugs, PTSD, emotional liability in response to life events, traumatic brain injury or even brain tumors.

Interestingly, rapid cycling is more likely to occur in those with bipolar II disorder. Fifty-per-cent of individuals with bipolar disorder will have at least one episode of rapid cycling in a lifetime. In most cases this condition is temporary and more typical frequency of highs and lows occurs. Ten per cent of bipolar patients will have this condition exclusively.

Rapid cycling is more likely to occur when people are first diagnosed with bipolar disorder as treatment might be delayed. On the other hand treatment with too much antidepressant not only can lead to mania but also rapid cycling. Emphasis should be on a combination of a mood stabilizer such as lithium or lamictal with an antidepressant.

One theory is called kindling. Initially a major life stressor may lead to depression or mania and as time goes by lesser and lesser stressors may lead to this condition. The second theory involves too frequent interruption of circadian rhythm such as when changing time zones occurs too frequently as in bipolar businessman who fly frequently. Seasonal affective disorder may lead to rapid cycling in areas of dramatic shifts between long nights and long days such as far longitudes. The anxiety associated with both theories often involves insomnia for which a benzodiazeping may be required.

Some terms relating to frequency of depression and mania include ultra fast mood swings when episodes occur in a matter of days and ultra-ultra rapid cycling when mania and depression occur within a single day. Note: When this happens seek medical help immediately.

The treatments for this are the same as for typical bipolar disorder but may require frequent adjustments by a psychiatrist on a weekly basis and with easy access by phone in between if necessary. In an ideal world the above would be easy but in this day and age of limited visits by health insurances, lack of accessibility to health insurance as in Medi-Caid or medically indigent adults makes this not an ideal world indeed. One can get care for labile diabetes or heart failure much more readily than for psychiatric disorders in general.

Also, the lack of availability to board and care homes for the seriously mentally ill and the homeless with mental disorders has become a huge problem and rapid cycling in these folks can lead to impulsive towards others and self with disastrous outcomes.

Little Known Causes of Mental Fog, Anxiety and Malaise

So many people have gotten used to living life in a “blah” state of mind. Uninspired by anything, hardly interested in even the most important people in their lives. Can you imagine what it would be like to feel truly inspired again? To believe your most genuine desires and dreams are possible? People who live in a chronic state of mild depression, or nagging anxiety have most likely given up on the pursuit of a meaningful life. Despite what they want to give to the world, despite how God wants to use them to make this world brighter… they are stuck in a web of mediocrity, compromise, stagnation, inexpression, and perhaps isolation.

Does this sound familiar to you? While good diagnosis and treatments for anxiety and depression, like counseling and medications, are very important… I wonder if you’ve considered some of the more physical causes of these conditions? It is very important to be checked for anemia, thyroid disorders, and other neurological conditions which can cause depressive symptoms. But did you know that certain microbes- bacteria and fungi- living in our intestines can cause these symptoms too?

Our intestines are filled with millions of organisms- some of which help us to feel well and thrive, and others which can make us sick, anxious, angry, depressed, or mentally fuzzy. Some of these bacteria and fungi cause chronic inflammation which can cause not only mental symptoms, but also body aches and pains, and difficulty digesting, which doctors have a hard time explaining. Did you know there are tests some doctors can do to find out exactly which microbes are living in your gut? There are treatments to get rid of the bad ones and to increase the numbers of beneficial gut bacteria? These treatments have been successful, not just for depression and anxiety, but also for the mental impairments caused by Alzheimer’s disease, Autism, ADHD, and more.

You owe it to yourself to find a functional medicine or naturopathic doctor to dig deeper and find possible root causes of malaise, fatigue, depression, or anxiety. Doctors can use specialty labs to order organic acid testing, which shows the doctor what is your nutritional status. Are you at sufficient levels for all of the vitamins and cofactors your body needs for the thousands of chemical reactions that are going on at any given time. There are markers for overgrowth of yeast, or pathological bacteria. There are markers which show if you’ve had high exposures to specific metal and environmental toxins and markers which show how well your body is doing at detoxifying itself. There are markers for neurotransmitters, and neurotransmitter metabolism which guide the doctor on causes, and best treatments for your specific condition.

Tips for Dealing With Panic Disorder in the Workplace

No time is ever a good time to experience a panic attack. The physical symptoms can be very debilitating, and the anxiety that accompanies an attack can make it difficult to make any decisions at all. Because of this, the fear of having a panic attack in the workplace can be particularly troublesome to someone with panic disorder. Here are a few tips that may help you to manage this issue while you’re working.

Trust In a Co-Worker

Panic attacks can be difficult to go through alone, especially if you’ve only recently started suffering from this particular disorder. If you feel you know any of your co-workers enough to trust them, confide in someone about your condition. Not only does it feel good to be accepted, but your friend may also be willing to help calm you down when you need it.

Always Have a Plan

Being unorganized and unprepared at work will set you up for a stressful day. Come up with a plan for yourself at the beginning of the week. Make sure to manage your time wisely, and leave yourself a bit of time to take a break between each commitment.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

The food that you eat can have a profound impact on your mood. Try to eat a balanced diet and keep alcohol and caffeine consumption to a minimum. Getting enough sleep is another important (and also overlooked) factor. For most people, this means shooting for roughly eight hours of sleep per night.

Know When to Take a Break

If a particularly difficult project is getting to you, don’t be afraid to step away so you can clear your head. Take a trip to the break room, take a walk around the park, or simply meditate or do some breathing exercises. You’ll come back refreshed and with a clear perspective.

Reward Your Successes

If you’re successful at work, take a moment to celebrate your achievement. Acknowledging your accomplishments helps you to keep a positive frame of mind throughout the day.

Set Realistic Goals

Achieving your goals makes you feel good. Failing to reach your goals, on the other hand, can be frustrating and stressful. When you plan out your work day, set goals for yourself that are meaningful but still achievable.

Look Into Employer Resources

If you’re having a hard time at work, communicate with your employer or supervisor so that you can get the help you need. You may be able to sign up for skill-building classes or an Employee Assistance Program. Even if no formal assistance is available, your supervisor may be able to offer guidance or assistance so you can get a handle on things more easily.

Keeping these tips in mind throughout the day can help to reduce workplace stress, and avoid the kind of situations that could lead to a panic attack. However, panic disorder is a serious issue, and can be very difficult to treat by yourself. If you experience panic attacks regularly, consider talking to a mental health care professional to see what sort of treatment is best for you.

What Should You Do for Someone Who Is Having a Panic Attack?

When someone experiences a panic attack, it’s usually scarier for that person to go through it alone. One exception to this might be if that same individual is panicking because he or she has difficulty being around people.

If that isn’t the case and you’re with someone who is requesting assistance, there are numerous things you can do to help. These are just a few of them.

Keep Them Calm

Having a panic attack can be a very scary and confusing experience. One of the best things you can do for someone who is suffering from one of them is to help the individual stay calm. Come up with a simple activity you can do with them. This gives him or her something to focus on.

It can be something as easy as lifting your arms or counting to ten. If possible, find something that’s a bit more challenging for them to do. The sense of accomplishment they feel when they finish the task should help to make them feel more in control.

Get the Person to a Quiet Place

Getting over a panic attack is all about calming down, which can be hard to do in a noisy or chaotic location. Try to encourage the person to move to a calm and quiet place, if they are willing to do so. Consider asking if there is a certain place they’d like to relocate to and help them get there if possible. However, don’t be too forceful about it. Doing so might potentially make the situation worse.

Help Them Breathe

People who are having a panic attack tend to hyperventilate, especially if it’s the first time they are experiencing the sensation. Shallow, rapid breaths cause the amount of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream to fall. This can lead to symptoms such as headache, weakness, dizziness, or tingling in the hands and feet.

When people experience these symptoms, they often feel like they aren’t getting enough air, which causes them to hyperventilate even more. Encourage the panic attack sufferer to take slow, deep breaths by doing so yourself. Inhale slowly, count to three, then exhale slowly and repeat. Chances are good that this will have a positive effect.

Stay with the Individual

When someone is having a panic attack, they may feel like they want to be alone. But, the best thing that you can do for them is to stay with them and keep them calm. Remind them that you are there to help them. They may say things to you that are rude or aggressive, but try to keep in mind that they’re very upset and don’t mean everything that they say.

Take Care of Yourself

If the person you’re trying to calm down sees that you start to panic, it can make things even worse. It’s perfectly normal to feel stressed out or have an elevated concern for your friend during this situation. But, you need to make sure that you stay calm and in control. Quite honestly, it’s the best way to help.

Of course, these aren’t the only methods to help someone who is having a panic attack. Everyone responds to different things. If the first thing doesn’t work, try something else. The most important thing to do is to try.