Mood disorders include depression, bipolar affective disorder, seasonal affective disorder and mood disturbances related to a physical aliment or substance use/abuse. Mood disorders are common and effect children, adolescents and adults of all ages.
At Wellpsyche, we teach our patients who are suffering with mood disorders to consider that they may have a faulty filter in their brains. This means that the way the brain selects and processes incoming information may not be working optimally. For most of our patients, their filter works well during times of low stress. However, during times of higher stress, their filter starts to falter. Consider the following scenario:
Joe is a successful information technologist who has excelled in his current position which he has held for the past 3 years. He is often praised as being a creative team leader with high energy and a passion for improving his team’s performance.
Recently, Joe’s energy at work has become a bit intense. He is more irritable and lacks his usual warm and playful spirit. He isn’t sleeping well and finds himself working late into the night most nights. His thoughts feel rushed and he has trouble relaxing, even to sleep.
Joe noticed that he began to feel this way shortly after a series of unfortunate events in his life took place in a relatively short amount of time. First, his father was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease. Then his spouse was laid off at work and Joe suffered a knee injury while playing basketball. His therapist suggests that Joe might be suffering from a problem with his filter, due to these recent stress inducing events, coupled with the fact that Joe’s father and paternal grandmother both suffered with anxiety and depression in the past.
Often times, creative, high energy people who have a high level of emotional intelligence suffer from problems with their filters. This is especially true in times of stress. It’s important to remember that the experience of stress is different for everyone and what is stressful to one person may not be to another. As stress increases in one’s life, the mind needs to work a bit harder to solve problems and alleviate the stress. If your filter isn’t working optimally, this means the brain starts having trouble managing these increased thoughts. This can translate into problems relaxing and turing off your thoughts. This may lead to trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, and ultimately changes in your mood including increased energy and irritability.
Addressing the filter problem with medications like mood stabilizers and sleep promoting agents can allow you to return to your high functioning, creative self. Utilizing health promoting practices regularly, like following a healthy diet, practicing good sleep hygiene, getting regular exercise and avoiding the use of nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, opiates and stimulants are also important steps to take.