3 Ways To Battle Your Mood Disorder

3 Ways To Battle Your Mood Disorder

Battling a mood disorder takes work. Some of the work includes going to therapy each week, meditating, and practicing mindfulness skills. Those are tools that can reduce the severity and frequency of your mood shifts over time. There are also things you can do when your mood shifts down, which may help alleviate some of the immediate pain you are in. During these times the work is the hardest because it can feel like it takes everything you have just to keep breathing. It is also the most important work because you are most likely to do self-destructive things when your mood is low. Because it is very hard to get through depressed mood shifts, the work I am suggesting may seem minimal, but it can be enough to give you some relief. I call these suggestions, “work,” rather than, “tools,” to acknowledge the difficulty of being in a depressed mood; it’s hard to do anything at all, so accessing tools is hard work.Bad day, bad mood

Keep in mind, these things are the opposite of what you feel like doing when you’re in a low mood. That’s why you have to do them in a fake-it-till-you-make-it-way, and that’s why it’s a battle. It’s not easy to have to deal with depression or mood disorders of any kind. Those who have never felt depressed or struggled with a mood disorder can’t fully grasp the pain and hardships you go through. Things do get better, but it takes a willingness to try, and to keep trying:

  1. Smile. Smile when you’re alone, smile at people you see, smile at your pet, your doorman, and your waitress. Smiling is obviously very hard for people to do when they are in a depressed mood. Know that you don’t have to mean it, but if you are willing to do it, it will help. It’s often hard to remember that smiling is an option when you’re depressed. It may feel awkward when you try it, but studies show that it helps. In my experience, it can provide short term relief, as well as helping in the long term by slightly changing your brain each time.Smile when it's hardest!
  2. Engage with people. I know, this is the last thing you want to do or feel like you can do when you’re depressed. However, when your mood isn’t at rock bottom, it may be possible with some effort. Smile at someone and engage in a conversation. You don’t have to know the person or develop a friendship, but human interaction can provide some relief from bad moods. Sometimes when you’re feeling down it is easier to engage with strangers than to reach out to people you know. With strangers, you can talk about light topics. With close friends, you may find yourself talking about your problems and getting more depressed. You have to try it out and see which type of conversation is most helpful.conversation
  3. Make a list of all the things you can begin working on (or continue working on) to help your mood disorder. This is both a distraction from your pain, as well as a reminder that there is hope. There are many things you can do to continue battling your mood disorder. As long as you don’t give up, you’ll make progress. Aim for progress, not a quick fix. There is no quick fix. Perhaps your list includes developing stronger mindfulness skills, developing a meditation practice, noticing your black and white thinking and trying to identify the grey. Maybe it will include figuring out new healthy ways to self-soothe, recognizing your negative thoughts, and looking for the positives in each scenario. If you feel like you’ve exhausted all options, go online and do some research. The truth is, you’ve never exhausted all options; you just see it that way when your mood is low.make lists

Mood disorders are very hard to live with, and you can’t fight for yourself every day. However, there will be some days that you can, and it’s on those days that you will. As long as you keep trying, little by little you will feel better.


  1. Thx for your wisdom on the one polarity. What advice do you have to offer on the other side of the bi?

    • You’re welcome! So, there are many different kinds of mood disorders. Not all of them have a manic component. There are also different levels of mania. However, this article (below) talks a bit about doing therapy with someone while he or she is in a manic state. It takes a trained therapist with a lot of knowledge. Mania is best managed by medications with ongoing psychotherapy. The reason I focus on the depression aspect of mood disorders is because the mania is much more commonly managed with medications, but the depression is harder to treat. When someone’s mania is managed, the depression often still persists. We lack psychopharmalogical treatments that work for both polarities. However, I think the medication for mood disorders is ongoing therapy. It is like a medication. It is necessary to go to therapy on and ongoing basis, just as it is necessary to take medication for a chronic condition. If someone goes off their thyroid meds, the condition usually resurfaces. It’s the same with therapy. There’s SUCH a lack of knowledge about bipolar disorder and other mood disorders, unfortunately. This article might be helpful. Thanks for asking this question! Feel free to ask more any time. http://psychiatryonline.org/data/Journals/FOCUS/2648/111.pdf

      • Dear Caitlin, thank you for your prompt and practical response. I would like to share the epiphany (after 40 years) that I shared with my former psychotherapist. In essence the insights that were occasioned by this event the culmination of which unburdened me to the point of actually “feeling lighter” and able to drop further visits with said psychotherapist to which we both agreed. As a unipolar patient and willing recipient of the gifts of psychiatry to myself and my future, I offer the following subjective and objective account of my quest for optimum mental health with empathy for those who desire the means to cope with mood disorders and engage in productive living.

        As I set parameters for the final two visits with my therapist, we ended those sessions discussing the relationship between the following four factors: 1). the connection between key past relationships 2). a traumatic event in the past 3). the role of the stress factor as a trigger to escape living in this world and creating a new one–which can become a manic delight 4). the PTSD influence on future reactions.

        From my very first episode and many hospitalizations, undertaking group and individual talk therapy and undergoing established and new medical regimens over the years, and finally discovering the threads of the four factors listed in the previous paragraph, the watershed moment arrived.

        For the response had not come to what needed to be talked about as present and future goals were always stressed. My insight into that discovery meant in my estimation that the past gifts of the psychiatric forefathers could stand some reinterpretation by present practitioners. That piece of understanding from the Freudian school might have given me the opportunity to deal with paranoid thoughts of my family and others trying to do me harm.

        I was followed and attacked with deadly force from behind on our family steps to the house early one morning after leaving my sister and friends who were going to have breakfast on the other side of town. One centimeter from having the carotid artery severed said the doctor who closed the wound. This event was given only cursory discussion if at all. Yet it triggered an emotional response to the fear-flight factor in every perceived threatening encounter with dominant figures (e.g. within the context of my mother and two husbands).

        The stress factor was evoked with too many responsibilities with no moral or any support being offered as I was pregnant, becoming a global facilitator while traveling the world with our family and experiencing hypercritical comments from my mate as I had tamped down with from my mom growing up. For my mom it was with appearance; and for my husband not only that but his projections on my inward motivations as well. I lived in a state of waiting for the other shoe to drop and walked on egg shells interiorly as a result.

        Taught in an urban school after my child was born. I had carried her through completing 2 years of earning my teaching degree within 5 quarters. Thirty-six kids (3rd and 4th graders) who had not experienced any form of effective discipline or character building up to that point in time and had a multi-faceted rebellious response to life and school in general. It took all I had to fashion a lively if firm network of care and learning around them individually and as a group.

        Also became a corporate “house mom” to 80 junior high and high school kids in an experimental Student House that my husband and I were commissioned to head up. More sullen rebellion and organized chaos that demanded a creative and new contextual answers to teens struggling with their selfhood.

        Needless to say, a rather cold lack of intimacy in the marriage was far from helpful. Neither was the response of my teenaged daughter who was not accepting of that second marriage or her situation within that Student House. She made new friends though mine were far and few between.

        Yet at the same time those were times of effulgence as I began to make some headway with the teens in addressing their practical and deeper concerns and needs.

        So, the upshot of this heavy burden, birthed a broken spirit in the milieu of an intensified summer program with further training into advanced group dynamics and leadership skills to be put into practice around the world.

        You may well asked how did PTSD influence this passive child who finally broke the marriage in an aggressive outburst signaling my decision to divorce myself from what had disintegrated into a cauldron of seething, silent hostility.

        Well, it occurred to me that every situation that impinged upon my life was like being attacked from behind again where I screamed, “Daddy, daddy, daddy!! Over and over again. The man turned and ran as the lights went on in the front of the house and as I entered the vestibule; mom opened the door and quietly surmised my plight. The ambulance was summoned, dad rode with me to the hospital. The spirit issue that evolved was one of not talking about what needed to be talked about so the boogey man would have no power over me. My grandmother used to run after us as children in the family home exclaiming, “Somebody’s gonna’ jump out the bushes and grab you”. And it became a self-determining prophecy for me.

        So again, the journey has been from: talking through the past and its key relationships; dealing with a traumatic event and its resultant PTSD and examining the role of stress as a trigger or cause even toward seeing the need to create a better universe “next door”.

        I applaud this corporate journey I’ve taken with the mental health field as it’s been advancing through the years. It took those 40 years of new medications, cognitive therapy and recreation of care networks to be able to say, “I have arrived”; at the threshold of “knocking on Heaven’s door” so to speak and ready to rejoin the human race as the child of God I’ve been created to be.

        This is my story, this is my song. A subjective account of how I traversed interior and exterior space and time to move from passive/aggressive introvert to an informed and contributing patient who grew up to be at ease in the skin I’m in and hoping to offer the results of my journey to enlighten others and lighten their burden.


        Dawn Collins

        P.S. The new drug of choice discovered in my last (literally) hospitalization this spring was Zyprexa (Olanzapine) which along with a bimonthly Risperdal Consta injection serve to maintain balance and stability. I believe every hospitalization was a necessary part of my life as it was related to the care offered up out of the new findings in psychiatry in tandem with my cycles of mental health issues at the time.

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