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Northern County Psychiatric Associates

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Mood Swings and Drugs
Carol E. Watkins, M.D.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Which came first, the drugs or the mood swings? Too often, I have to figure this out. His parents or teachers sent him to see me because he have had mood swings, verbal explosions and sleep problems. The drug screen comes back positive for cocaine and marijuana, and the garbage can search reveals empty wine bottles.

He has a problem with drugs and alcohol. He has mood swings. Drugs can cause mood swings. On the other hand, someone with depression or mania may use drugs to take away the pain of uncontrollable mood changes. Figuring out the answer often requires some expert detective work. He need to open up and give me a detailed, honest history. His family members must also be frank about their own drug and psychiatric histories. No more secrets.

Adolescents may abuse drugs for a variety of reasons. These often include peer group pressure, parental drug and alcohol use, depression or just a desire for a new experience.

No adolescent should use alcohol or illegal drugs. However, there are certain individuals who are at increased risk. These individuals should be cautious even as adults. Some people can drink for quite a while before running into problems. Others have problems after that first drink. If close family members have had problems with drugs or alcohol, you are at increased risk. If you are depressed or already have trouble with mood swings, you are more likely to become addicted, and may have more trouble getting off drugs. There is evidence that drug use may cause an individual with a biological tendency toward bipolar disorder to develop the illness earlier in life. High school is difficult enough; you don’t need this too. Talk to a trusted adult and get help early.

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Links related to Depression and Bipolar Disorder

  • Common side effects of medications used for bipolar disorder.
    This site includes a long list of first, second and third-line medications and their more common side effects.

  • Pendulum Resources
    Information, affirmation and support for individuals with bipolar disorder. 

  • Suicidal behavior in adolescents
    The Archives of Suicide Research. This study suggests that adolescent suicidal behavior is often related to the existence of multiple emotional, cognitive and social problems in the same individual.  

  • "Suicide and the Exceptional Child"
    This article from the ERIC Digest, discusses recommendations for recognizing and dealing with adolescents at risk for suicidal behavior. It also mentions media guidelines aimed at reducing the contagious effect of suicide reports.

  • Depression
    Recommended books for children. Also see Psychotherapy Section

  • FAQ about several antidepressant medications
    This was written in 1994, so some new medications may not be mentioned. (always consult your physician before starting, stopping or changing medications), .

  • NDMA
    National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association education support and advocacy for individuals and families affected by mood disorders. This site includes contacts for support groups by locality.

  • Suicide in Youth: This article, written so that an adolescent could understand it, gives advice about the prevention of teen suicide.

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • SA\VE
    A site dedicated to the prevention of suicide. It gives the message that suicide is usually due to treatable mental illness. There is also information and support for survivors.




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Northern County Psychiatric Associates

Offices in Monkton and Lutherville, Maryland

Northern County Psychiatric Associates 

Our practice has experience in the treatment of Attention Deficit disorder (ADD or ADHD), Depression, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and other psychiatric conditions. We are located in Northern Baltimore County and serve the Baltimore County, Carroll County and Harford County areas in Maryland. Since we are near the Pennsylvania border, we also serve the York County area.   Our services include psychotherapy, psychiatric evaluations, medication management, and family therapy. We treat children, adults, and the elderly.

We also maintain a list of informative web sites on mental health topics, such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Parenting and Support Groups. We have links of interest to the general public and links of interest to primary care physicians and other professionals.

Northern County Psychiatric Associates
Lutherville and Monkton
Baltimore County, Maryland
Phone: 410-329-2028
Web Site
Copyright 2001

Carol E. Watkins, M.D.
Glenn Brynes, Ph.D., M.D. 


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