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Mystifying Mood Swings Happen Without Warning

DEAR ABBY: I read your letters every chance I get. They remind me that I'm not the only one with problems, but sometimes I just feel so empty.

I have random bouts where anything can send me into a crying jag and all I want to do is hide and go to sleep. I can be watching a funny TV show and out of nowhere feel like I need to run away and cry. It scares me that my moods can swing so drastically. I can also become angry every now and then when it's unprovoked.

I don't know what to do. My boyfriend tries to help, but he's at a loss as well. My medical insurance doesn't cover psychological help. Can you give me any advice? -- CRYING MYSELF TO SLEEP

DEAR CRYING: Check again with your insurance carrier, because your primary care provider may be able to order psychological services for you. If, however, that's not possible, your county department of mental health may be able to help you find counseling on a sliding financial scale. Or, contact a university with a medical school, if one is close by. Ask to speak to the Department of Psychiatry and inquire if someone on the staff deals with the problems you're experiencing.

If you live in a town with a college, find out if it has a psychology department and a graduate school. If so, does that graduate school have a psychology program and clinic that charges on a sliding scale and is the clinic staffed with graduate students? If not, inquire if someone on the staff of the department sees people privately and get the phone number.

Individuals can also get referrals from mental health organizations. The largest credentialed ones are the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the National Association of Social Workers. All of these organizations have professional standards and are legitimate resources.

I know this is a longer response than you may have expected, but I hope it helps you find what you need because it's time to enlist professional help in understanding your mood swings.

Read more in: Mental Health

Birthday Party Preparation Turns Into a Debate

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I had a disagreement about a recent birthday party we gave for our daughter. I was making party favors and putting the date of the party on them instead of our daughter's birthday on them. He said it should be the date of her birthday instead of the date of the party. What is the correct way it should be done -- put the date of the party, which is on a different date than her birthday, or put her birthdate on them? -- BELINDA IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR BELINDA: The date of the party should go on the invitations. The age the child has attained should go on the party favors, table decorations and, of course, the birthday cake.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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