Depression, Bipolar?

Patient

Q: My mother (in the last 3-4 years) has changed into a completely different person. We use to be close, but now all she does is yell and scream to solve all her problems, pushes people (children, her husband) away, is EXTREMELY irritable, lashes out in unexpected rants about dumb stuff happening around the house. These are only a few examples of bazaar behavior. I guess my question is, is she suffering from depression, or could it be early menopause? I want to get her help not only for her, but everyone that has to be around her on a daily basis. It really is a miserable life for everyone around her.

Doctor

A:   Thank you for your question. It is possible that your mother's current mood changes could be due to either depression or the hormonal fluctuations that occur during menopause. Furthermore, it is possible that her irritability could be due to other hormonal imbalances such as that of the thyroid gland. Increased thyroid hormone, or hyperthyroidism, can cause irritability among other symptoms. We also want to mention that before searching for a medical cause of her irritability, perhaps there have been certain changes in her life over the last few years that have increased her level of stress. This too could cause her to act out such a manner towards the family. Although you cannot force her to seek help, the best approach is to express your concerns about her in a loving and respectful manner. After that it will be up to her to choose whether she wants to seek further medical evaluation. She can always send us her concerns or questions at AskTheDoctor.com and we will be happy to help her.

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