Jolts causing rapid emotional or psychological switches

lightening major

I think we’ve all experienced emotional jolts at times in our lives. Imagine one moment we feel happy and positive, and then during a conversation someone says something that brings on a sudden feeling of fear, self-consciousness, fury, or the like. Or imagine that you go to your living room and discover your beloved pet is seriously ill, and are later told that he/she needs to be put down.

funny joltPowerful emotional jolts can also work in the opposite ways, as well. Perhaps you’re feeling a bit sad and lonely one day, but then the doorbell rings. You open the door to see your brother at the door, a brother from the Navy whom you haven’t seen for over two years. Suddenly you experience a sudden rush of joy and all previous worries and problems fade away in that minute. It’s amazing how such emotional jolts can trigger a switch in our emotional and psychological states. Very often these switches may be caused by adrenaline rushes or other rapid hormonal changes. In negative cases, reassurance, positive affirmations, support from family, basic coping tools, or a normal grieving process can restore you to your previous well state. But this is rarely the case for people with serious mental illnesses, or for those with severe grief. For them, it’s much harder.

Unlike emotionally and psychologically healthy people, people who have significant mental illnesses may either not experience significant psychological switches from emotional or psychological jolts, or if they do, they only do to a much smaller degree, or much shorter-term. It is also possible that depending on the severity of the jolt, the mentally ill may be pushed even further into their illness. Negative jolts can make for more severe depression or anxiety, and positive (or sometimes any type of) jolts can push bipolar manic people higher into mania.

Some happenings in the brain

I have bipolar disorder. I experience depressive states, elevated (hypomanic/manic) states, mixed states, and often stable states at various times in my life. People with bipolar disorder, and all other mental illnesses just hate, yes, hate, when people tell them to “snap out of it” (their mood states, anxiety or other states). Since most mental illnesses are not unlike other physical illnesses, such a suggestion is very much easier said than done, and the person suggesting such an action clearly misunderstands the severity and difficulty of the illnesses. According to most scientists and doctors, most mental illnesses are caused by imbalances in the brain in regards to various neurotransmitters or specific brain circuits. Stress hormones may also play an important role.  Medications for these mental illnesses can take some time to provide relief. This could mean weeks, months or even longer, in some cases. The length of recovery really depends on numerous complex factors. One must find the right medication(s), the best therapy, the right coping tools, lifestyle, or must just give it time for recovery.  Recovery from mental illness is often a major struggle, and requires patients have extreme patience. It can be so frustrating, and the wait for recovery can bring on hopelessness in some. In some cases, recovery may not even be 100% complete.

snap out of it
Ending mental illness symptoms is NOT a snap

Is it possible for major psychological or emotional “jolts” to help a person with a serious mental illness? I suppose it is possible, depending on the person, the severity of the jolt, the illness, and other factors, but self-will to “snap out of it” or “put your chin up” (like my dad often says) is usually ridiculously ineffective, and frustrating for mentally ill to hear.

I wouldn’t in a million years suggest any severe “jolt” examples for possible psychological switches, though I have experienced a couple in my time. Suggesting any would be potentially dangerous and ridiculous. Most often, such deliberate attempts backfire, badly. I will say, however, that besides the medication(s), therapy, and coping tools I mentioned above, there is one “jolt” (of sorts) I opted to have that was helpful in easing my depression. I chose to have ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) at one point in the past. Though to some people this is a scary treatment often with undesirable side effects, it is now considered to be a safe treatment for people who need extreme help to end severe psychological symptoms.  Just as some medications and therapies are not for everyone, neither is ECT.

Safe and positive environments help people with wellness in almost all cases. Even a person with severe depression and anxiety will be aided to at least some minor degree if they live in an environment conducive to recovery. Small positive steps and activities are also generally more helpful than harmful. I write this to emphasize that “jolts” are not something we should count on for recovery, and that they do have risks associated with them.

31 thoughts on “Jolts causing rapid emotional or psychological switches

  1. Hana April 17, 2017 / 3:50 pm

    Very interesting! Especially for better understanding your problems and your illness. I like your posts very much!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. geelayo April 17, 2017 / 4:33 pm

    This came close to home. I do experience drastic mood swings which can be called mood jolts. Thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 17, 2017 / 4:36 pm

      I guess they can be considered mood jolts in a way, but I was thinking more about jolts of emotional or psychological stressors (or the opposite) causing mood shifts. I see them as being common in everyday life, but they aren’t always as effective at changing the courses of severe mood episodes. Only on rare occasions, in my experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. RZA April 17, 2017 / 6:52 pm

    Very interesting (and nice pics too), I was thinking about ECT from the beginning, I’m glad it helps you. It’s generally considered safe even for pregnant women who should not be taking most antidepressant drugs, and effective even in psychosis with stupor. I find that these surges or jolts sometimes provide an exit from a thought spiral in the mind and it can surely be a visit from my brother. Or a favorite piece of music 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 17, 2017 / 7:25 pm

      RZA, thank you for bringing up these facts in this post’s comments, and sharing how you’ve experienced such “jolts”. You bring up a great point how “jolts” (as we’re calling them) can shut down unhealthy thinking. Though I sort of compare health people’s unhealthy thinking to those of the mentally ill, it definitely should be said that sometimes the mentally ill have milder symptoms of dysfunctional or racing thoughts. It is also my experience that these milder symptoms can sometimes be shut down with the right “jolt”.


  4. Robert Matthew Goldstein April 17, 2017 / 7:44 pm

    Thank you for this insight. Another thing about jolts is that a severe jolt such a trauma can induce PTSD related symptoms, especially if they happen to children. Thanks for adding your voice to WordPress.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 17, 2017 / 7:56 pm

      Robert, thanks for adding that fact about trauma and PTSD. It’s terrible when it happens to anyone, especially children when they’re so young and their brains are still developing.

      From all I’ve read there aren’t too many “jolts” that can easily relieve trauma.

      I wish it wasn’t so much easier for people to be struck with such great mental and physical pain than it is to be relieved of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Robert Matthew Goldstein April 17, 2017 / 10:17 pm

        Trauma is proof of the human mind inasmuch as the only treatment is psychotherapy. Our culture is dominated by cognitive behaviorism which has its place but is not the right treatment for the more severe and chronic illnesses.

        I wish we had an easier time of it too.

        Thanks for the reply.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Maggie April 18, 2017 / 12:03 am

    Very interesting read. I have an anxiety disorder controlled by medication. Our brains and emotions are not meant to deal with a lot of the trauma and jolts some have to deal with

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 18, 2017 / 1:14 am

      Thank you, Maggie. No, mental illnesses are beyond the normal range of tolerance, for sure. I hope your anxiety is under good control. I certainly understand anxiety, since it is very common in bipolar disorder, as well.


  6. V.O.L April 18, 2017 / 12:57 pm

    As a social work student this was very informative and I could also relate. Mental health is often misunderstood in comparison to physical health. I myself have been through anxiety, and it can be very isolating.

    Thanks for the insight. We need to raise so much more awareness for this

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 18, 2017 / 1:00 pm

      Thanks so much, V.O.L. It’s nice to hear such feedback from a social work student. I hope that you, me, and many others here will continue to raise awareness about the mental health issues. Anxiety and depression are especially prevalent in this world.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Neeti April 18, 2017 / 10:37 pm

    I found your article really informative, in fact, I was recently reading up on bipolar disorder and this was really helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 18, 2017 / 10:54 pm

      Thank you so much, Neeti. I’m also happy to learn that you are reading about bipolar disorder. Do you or does someone you know have the disorder? Or are are you just interested in learning about it? Either way, I am grateful. So few people really understand mental illnesses, and yet some (particularly anxiety and depression) are so prevalent.


      • Neeti April 18, 2017 / 11:02 pm

        I actually read a book recently and the protagonist was bipolar, the book is mainly about his struggle, it’s made me really sensitive towards this topic 🙈

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight April 18, 2017 / 11:09 pm

        I’m glad you read about bipolar disorder, Neeti. Many people even much older than you know very little about it. Knowledge about mental illness hopefully breaks the stigma against it.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. jacquelineobyikocha April 24, 2017 / 7:45 am

    This is the first time I am reading about the jolt and it’s quite informative. You have a good understanding and what has always baffled me is how people would understand that other medical ailments outside mental health issues take time to heal and yet like you said ‘snap out of it’ is expected to be the case for those with mental health challenges.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 24, 2017 / 11:10 am

      That’s so true, jacqueline. I’m glad you found my post.


  9. dancingpalmtrees April 24, 2017 / 2:32 pm

    Reblogged this on Espiritu en Fuego/A Fiery Spirit and commented:
    This post resonated with me. I once had a friend who told me that I chose to be depressed which is the dumbest stupidest statement on earth. Does a person choose cancer, diabetes, heart attack? Why would I choose to be in the hospital, on pills that don’t work or sometimes spending entire days in bed? No it is not a choice and so little is know about the functioning of the human brain it will be ages before a cure is found.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 24, 2017 / 2:51 pm

      Thank you, dancingpalmtrees, for reblogging my Jolts post. It is sad that there is still so much misunderstanding about mental illness. What’s even sadder, is that some people who’ve even experienced it hold such views to a point, too. Other than my husband, my family has not been as supportive and helpful to me as I wish they had been, despite them also having had anxiety and depression.


  10. sheldonk2014 April 24, 2017 / 6:01 pm

    I live and breath with these jolts
    I can only tell from my experience
    That with some practice,it does
    Get better,the intensity can get
    Tricky at times,but I can sit them out
    Great post
    Excellent work
    As Sheldon Always

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight April 24, 2017 / 6:40 pm

      Hi sheldon. I have gained a sitzfleisch to wait out tricky times too. That was one of the most major steps forward I’ve made over the years.

      Thank you for your kind words, regarding my post.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Sally August 10, 2017 / 4:16 pm

    Very interesting post as I too have bipolar disorder. I will share with you how my psychotherapist goes about changing people’s moods without jolts of any kind. He is half Native American so has built an office in an adobe hacienda-style building with pale peach stucco, arches and walkways through landscaped gardens filled with pots of flowers and trees. Flute music plays in his waiting room along with wonderfully calming sweet grass scents, Native American rugs and wall hangings.

    Whenever I visit him in a depressed mood I always walk out feeling relaxed and cared for. I know I am lucky, but just wish the people around us would make us feel cared for in a similar way and not try to put us down. `

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight August 10, 2017 / 5:06 pm

      Your psychotherapist’s office sounds wonderful! Too often the therapy rooms are too typical office-like.

      My psychiatrist used to have a wonderful painting of forsythia in his office. It started to mean a lot to me. Then one day it disappeared. I guess he brought it home or gave it someone. I was upset by that and told him so. Then he told me the replacement was a painting of a landmark in my childhood hometown. I think he thought that would ease my sadness, but it wasn’t enough.


  12. Sally August 14, 2017 / 1:38 pm

    Yes, a relaxed atmosphere really matters. I know how much you love forsythias, It’s sad that he didn’t realize how important nature was to people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight August 14, 2017 / 4:06 pm

      My guess is that his wife wanted the painting either for home or for someone like the daughter. I have a feeling he had little choice.


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