Everybody has mood swings. Those of us who have uncontrollable changes in our behaviour pattern, from overexcitement, overactivity and sleeplessness to periods of depression, marked lethargy and apathy, are termed manic depressive or bipolar depressive.

Whilst there is a tendency for this condition to run in families, true manic depression is generally a neurochemical imbalance caused by the brain tissues either making too much or to little ‘happy juice’.

Certain factors – hormonal, drug or food stimulants, hypoglycaemia or food allergy – may heighten emotions and thereby turn what would usually be regular mood swings into a type of manic depression. Pregnancy and premenstrual syndrome very commonly cause marked shifts in moods because of the sensitivity of the individual to the oestrogen and progesterone levels. This is not manic depression although some beleaguered husbands may think so!


If mood swings are apparent and life disturbing, discuss the matter with a psychotherapist to establish whether manic depression is a likely diagnosis. Counselling in itself may be beneficial and neurolinguistic programming may help to train an individual to recognize the early signs of either end of the emotional scale and teach control methods.

Eliminate alcohol, caffeine, refined foods , cigarettes and recreational drugs.

Have a food allergy test performed or keep a very accurate journal listing the foods eaten and the mood felt. See if there is any isolated food or food groups that trigger either emotional state.

Deficiencies in zinc, B-complex, calcium, magnesium or the active substance in lecithin known as phosphatidylcholine may all be relevant and taking four times the RDA may make a difference. This should be done as a trial for two weeks and if an improvement is noted the information should be taken to a complementary medical practitioner with experience in this area to analyse your diet or consider why absorption is not taking place.

Amino acid deficiency, especially tryptophan and phenylalanine, is common.

Yeast infections in the bowel, especially Candida, may create the deficiencies that lead to bipolar depression as well as producing chemicals that enhance the condition. See Depression for the down side of this condition and Hysteria for the manic part.

As a last resort, psychiatric administration of the drug lithium may be necessary.