Hi Cody! I believe I can be of help with this issue. First, let me say I can imagine how scary and worrisome this situation is for you. So let's see if I can give you some clarity on what MAY be going on and how to get help. I am not trying to make a diagnosis here. I want you to understand that you have to go to your doctor and describe your symptoms and ask to be referred to a psychiatrist for a thorough psychiatric evaluation. In fact, I very much want you to print out my answer to you and use it to discuss this referral that is more than just important with your parents and your doctor. I believe the most likely disorder that needs to be considered is Bipolar Disorder (BD) with psychotic features. BD becomes most easily recognizable in late adolescence. If this becomes your diagnosis, Cody, you need to know that not only have the medications available today become more refined, and not only has research into how to apply medications become much more complete, but the research into therapy to learn to MANAGE the disorder is so much more thorough. And research shows that treating BD with both meds and therapy is much more effective than either one alone. I always go over the DSM-IV criteria with parents to make sure they're comfortable with what the psychiatrists have decided and that they don't want second opinions. So, let's see what the DSM-IV says and you decide. Here are the criteria for BD. Here's a layman's version that doesn't differentiate between Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2. Because it's a non-technical version, it is not going to list all the different possibilities of BD, such as BD with psychotic features and suicidality. What I want you to look at is to see if the pattern of how you've found yourself living with mood swings and irritation, etc. fit. Okay here it is and then I'll be back:
Bipolar Disorder means more than wild mood swings. It doesn't necessarily describe someone who is "hot" one day and "cold" the next. Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals have it classified as an actual disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders IV, or DSM-IV TR. By understanding the technical aspects of Bipolar Disorder, one may be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of something other than a fickle mood.
Manic and Depressed Episodes
What do you think? Does this sound like it describes your situation? The idea is that the mood swings back and forth unpredictably, with some quicker than others. Here's a quote from the DSM-IV: "Sometimes individuals experience severe mood swings from periods of extreme depression to periods of exaggerated happiness. This is known as bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness, an illness that involves episodes of serious mania and depression. The individual's mood usually swings from overly "high" and irritable (mania) to sad and hopeless (depression) and then back again, with periods of normal moods interspersed." I mentioned managing BD above. I think this is so important. I'm going to start with a book. Get it from the library and start it right away even as you work with your parents and doctor on getting the thorough evaluation. In my practice, I use the resources with people with BD from Mary Ellen Copeland. I have found her work easy for people to use and easy to keep with you. The biggest problem is forgetting to keep to the plan when times are good and then something happens! Copeland also had BD and was hospitalized. She's a therapist and developed a BD treatment protocol called Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). Here's the book I have people start with.
The Depression Workbook: A Guide for Living with Depression and Manic Depression by Mary Ellen Copeland. Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Depression-Workbook-Guide-Living-Second/dp/157224268X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284317815&sr=8-1-catcorr
Now here's a YouTube search I've put together for you on the WRAP program. I want you to look at the videos and see what you think:
The video with Mary Ellen is a bit strong but worthwhile. Okay, so you see I hope my point here for you:
Okay. Cody, this is very important that you've gotten to recognizing you need help. Show my answer to your parents and your doctor and get the help you need. I wish you the very best!
Please remember to click the green accept button. Feel free to continue the discussion; my goal is to get you the best answers possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX