Mood swings are rapid and often extreme, fluctuations in one’s emotional state, involving alternating between feelings of happiness and well-being and feelings of anger, irritability, or depression.
You’re up. You’re down. And you’re soon up again. It seems like you spend your days riding an emotional roller coaster.Are these changes normal? The answer is “maybe” as long as they don’t affect your life or the lives of people around you.
Many things can affect how your mood shifts throughout the day. For example, because of body rhythms, most people feel upbeat and energetic around noon but tend to have more negative feelings during the early afternoon or evening.
Sometimes, mood swings are a symptom of a mental illness or they could be a clue that something else is happening in your body. Serious mood shifts that threaten your well-being can be treated by medical professionals. Lifestyle changes can often help mild ones.
Among the possible causes of mood swings is an imbalance in the brain chemicals associated with mood regulation, as in the case of bipolar disorder, and the hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle or menopause. In addition, mood swings may occur in men who abuse steroids (often called ‘roid rage).
Mood swings are also common with depression, especially untreated depression, where moods can fluctuate from irritability to extreme sadness to an angry outburst.
Everyone experiences mood swings once in awhile, but when they start to become so often or so intense that they disrupt your everyday life, your work, and even your relationships, it’s time to see a doctor. You may have a mood disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Hormones can also cause mood swings. This has to do with hormones affecting the chemistry of the brain. Teens and women who are pregnant or going through menopause may experience mood swings due to the hormonal changes associated with this phase of their body’s development.
Sex hormones are tied to your emotions, so changes in your hormone levels can lead to mood swings. It’s no surprise that teenagers are often described as “moody.” For women, Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), pregnancy, menopause (the year after your last period), and perimenopause (the years before it) can lead to unpredictable moods.
Men’s hormones tend to stay pretty stable until age 30 when testosterone begins to gradually decline. About a third of men age 75 and older have low levels of testosterone. That can cause mood swings, along with erectile dysfunction, sleep problems, and, yes, hot flashes.
OTHER HEALTH CONDITIONS
Other health conditions can cause mood swings. This includes conditions affecting your lungs, cardiovascular system, and thyroid. Conditions that affect your central nervous system may also cause mood swings.
Regardless of whether your mood swings occur due to an underlying medical condition or another factor, certain things can trigger them. This includes:
·a significant change in your life
·your sleep habits
STRESS AND ANXIETY
Day-to-day hassles and unexpected surprises both the good kind and the unpleasant ones can definitely change your mood. And when you’re especially sensitive, you may react more strongly or more often to situations than other people.
Lack of sleep, a common complaint of people under stress, doesn’t help. Some people feel uneasy, fearful, and worried even when they realize there’s no good reason. You could be diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder if you’ve had trouble controlling your worries more often than not for the past 6 months and you have additional symptoms such as trouble sleeping. When it’s severe, it can be almost impossible to get through the day.
People with bipolar disorder have highs and lows that are much more intense and longer-lasting than usual mood swings.
For example, it’s normal to feel great, like everything’s going your way, for a day or two. Someone with bipolar disorder, though, can spend several days being the life of the party: racing around, talking fast, not sleeping much, and doing destructive things like running through the family’s bank account. They could possibly hear voices, too. That’s called a manic phase.
Similarly, it’s not uncommon to have trouble getting out of bed to go to a job you don’t like. But someone with bipolar disorder may stay in bed for 4 days and lose that job.
Someone who is depressed may have mood swings, too. They’ll have their lows, then feel OK, but they won’t get the manic highs that someone with bipolar disorder would. Depressed people may feel worse in the morning and become more cheerful later in the day. If you’ve been feeling sad, drained, restless, or hopeless for more than 2 weeks, it’s time to call your doctor.
BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER
A characteristic of this mental illness is sudden, intense shifts in mood such as anxious to angry, or depressed to anxious usually without the extreme highs seen in bipolar disorder. These are often “triggered” by what seem like ordinary interactions with other people. Someone with a borderline personality disorder doesn’t deal well with stress. They may want to harm themselves when they feel very unsettled or upset.
HOW ARE MOOD SWINGS TREATED
If you’re experiencing severe mood swings or mood swings that cause extreme disruption in typical behavior, you should talk to your doctor. They can help you determine the causes of your mood swings and help you find appropriate treatment. You may need professional therapy or medications to relieve these life-altering mood swings. Simple lifestyle changes may also help, too.
If your ups and downs aren’t affecting other aspects of your life negatively, you may be able to work through your mood swings without medical attention. You might be able to regulate your moods if you do the following:
·Keep a schedule. Try to create a routine for yourself, especially when it comes to eating and sleeping.
·Exercise regularly. Exercising regularly has numerous benefits for nearly all aspects of your health, including mood.
·Get sufficient sleep. A good night’s sleep is important and sleep deprivation can affect your mood.
·Eat a healthy diet. A balanced, healthy diet can improve your mood and keep you healthy.
Practice relaxation. Engage in calming practices like yoga or meditation.
·Avoid stress. Easier said than done, right? If you can’t avoid it, aim to manage and relieve stress as it comes.
·Express yourself. Find a creative outlet to express yourself.
·Talk it out. Find someone to talk to, such as a friend, family member, or professional counselor.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
When your mood swings get in the way of your job, your relationships, or any other part of your life, make an appointment with your doctor to sort out what’s going on. Simple changes may help you handle mild, uncomfortable, annoying (to you or to others) mood swings.
Regular workouts even a daily walk can help take the edge off depression and anxiety because they’ll trigger your body to make feel-good endorphins. Plus, exercise can improve your sleep.
Listening to upbeat music can influence your mood in a good way. Too much caffeine can give you symptoms similar to anxiety, so try cutting back and see if your emotions level off.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of short-term treatment. Your therapist will help you change patterns of thinking and behavior that add to problems in your life. For instance, if criticism sends you into an annoying mood, you may work on new ways to receive and react to constructive feedback.
Dialectical behavior therapy can help people with borderline personality disorder learn how to better control their anger and impulses and manage their dramatic mood shifts.
Keeping a journal to record your mood swings might also help you determine the reasons you experience them. Look for patterns and try to avoid situations or activities that directly impact your mood. Sharing the mood journal with your doctor can also help with your diagnosis.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Keep in mind that mood swings can vary in severity. Experiencing a range of emotions is a part of life. You may need to adjust your lifestyle to get back to feeling normal if you experience occasional mood swings.
You should take mood swings that alter your behavior and negatively impact your life or those around you seriously. Contact your doctor if you feel that mood swings have taken over your daily life or if you’ve been feeling out of sorts for an extended period of time. These could be symptoms of a health condition.
TakeCare of Yourself and Each Other