What Can Cause Mood Swings and How to Manage Them
Mood swings are a common phenomenon. It can be a completely natural response to various biological processes or a sign of serious mental health problems. Usually, people mention mood swings when talking about rapid emotional transitions from excitement, happiness, and contentment to sadness, irritability, and anger, or vice versa.
According to the mood swings definition from the American Psychological Association, mood swings may range from normal fluctuations to pathological conditions. Sometimes, mood swings may happen as a response to a certain trigger, and sometimes, they may occur without any obvious reasons.
There are many factors that may impact our mood. It can change because of certain medical conditions, hormonal changes, or as a result of mental health issues.
Therefore, it’s important to know what might cause quick changes in your mood so that you can see whether or not you need therapy. If uncontrollable changes in someone’s mood are caused by mental health disorders, therapy can be the only effective solution.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the common causes of mood swings.
Injuries and illnesses
Although mood swings are an emotional symptom, they might be rooted in physical illnesses and injuries. For instance, people often experience mood swings after brain injuries, concussions, or strokes.
A person can experience mood swings when starting or stopping certain kinds of prescription medication. While people usually expect changes in their mood when taking mood stabilizers or antidepressants, there are also many kinds of medication that have nothing to do with emotional health but still can cause mood swings as a side effect.
For instance, one of the most common questions is, can birth control cause mood swings? The short answer is yes, and the impact of birth control can be positive as well as negative. Hormonal contraceptives affect your hormonal balance, and if your mood swings are caused by hormonal problems, you may feel improvement.
However, research data also indicates that birth control can also disrupt your emotional health and lead to various negative consequences, including problems with emotional recognition and an increased risk of depression.
Similarly, people who take anabolic steroids may also experience intense changes in their mood, including spontaneous anger, because steroids increase the level of testosterone.
About 90% of women experience some premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, which may include mood swings, fatigue, bloating, and depression. While the majority of researchers link PMS-related mood swings to shifts in the estrogen balance, the exact mechanism of such changes remains unknown.
Emotional symptoms of PMS may vary from mild shifts in the mood to extreme irritability or depression. Extreme mood swings can be a symptom of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which affects up to 5% of women.
Given that the changes in the level of estrogen often correlate with mood swings, pregnancy and PMS are common reasons why women of childbearing age experience rapid changes in their mood. When it comes to menopause, mood swings are also very common because during menopause, levels of estrogen fall. Along with mood swings, menopause can also cause insomnia, reduced libido, and hot flashes.
Seasonal allergies may affect not only your physical health but also your mood, as well. Symptoms of allergies, including itchiness, sneezing, post-nasal drip, and watery eyes, can lead to fatigue and negatively affect one’s sleep. As a result, you may feel irritated and have difficulties with concentration.
Mood swings are a common symptom of depression. Research data shows that people with depression may experience various mood fluctuations, including angry outbursts, irritability, and intense sadness.
Depression may stop you from enjoying your favorite activities, affect your sleep, and make you feel exhausted, hopeless, sad, and tired. Severe depression may also cause suicidal thoughts and behavior.
Borderline personality disorder
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) may cause significant shifts in one’s mood. Such mood swings are usually very intense and can last up to a few days. BPD can also make a person feel restless or exhausted and cause inappropriate anger, panic, rage, or risky behavior.
A person with BPD may demonstrate self-harm behavior or attempt suicide. Quite often, people with BPD also experience dissociative symptoms, which may feel like separation of one’s body and mind.
Mood swings are among the typical symptoms of bipolar disorder. A person with bipolar disorder may experience periods of depression followed by manic episodes.
Manic episodes are usually associated with excess energy and irritability, while depressive periods are characterized by sadness, eating and sleep disorders, and self-esteem issues. People with bipolar disorder may also have suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide.
If you have suicidal thoughts or consider self-harm, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
How to Deal With Mood Swings
Exercising can help you improve not only your physical health but your mood as well. Physical activity can boost your blood flow and help your body produce endorphins. In turn, endorphins can help you deal with stress and mood swings.
Get enough sleep
A lack of sleep can contribute to rapid mood swings and increase irritability. If you don’t sleep enough, your brain doesn’t have enough time to process the worries you went through during the day. Thus, your stress may compound and become difficult to handle.
Try to always get 7 to 8 hours of sleep so that your body can get the so-needed rest.
Master stress management
If your mood changes quickly, you should learn to control your emotions. Given that, most often, changes in mood are caused by stress, stress management is very important. There are many approaches that might help you, including meditation, various breathing techniques, and yoga.
When you’re feeling stressed out or your mood starts to change, take some time to calm down and relax. Breathe deeply and focus on your bodily sensations rather than external factors that cause stress.
Limit alcohol, caffeine, and sugar
Although many people use alcohol to deal with stress, it’s important to keep in mind that alcohol is a depressant. It can change your mood and lead to unhelpful behavior.
Caffeine can increase nervousness and anxiety, and sweet foods can change your blood sugar level, which in turn may also impact your mood. If you want to take control of your emotions, the best solution is to avoid these substances.
Change your diet
Given that changes in your blood sugar level might impact your mood, you may also want to reconsider your food habits. Although most people eat three large meals a day, you should keep in mind that large meals lead to significant changes in the level of blood sugar. Therefore, the best solution is to eat smaller meals throughout the day.
Take calcium supplements
Research data shows that calcium can help treat symptoms of anxiety, depression, and emotional swings caused by PMS. Besides, calcium is good for your health, in general. For instance, it can prevent bone deterioration, which is particularly important for women who approach menopause.
As we’ve already mentioned above, mood swings can be caused by various mental health disorders. In this case, the only right solution is to seek professional help.
A licensed therapist can help you figure out what triggers your mood swings and help you deal with them. For example, a therapist can help you learn effective anger management techniques and overcome stress.
While bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and some other serious mental health problems may require you to be present in a therapist’s office, mild anxiety or depression can also be treated remotely.
You can use online therapy platforms like Calmerry to talk to a therapist from virtually anywhere, with no need to leave the comfort of your home. Besides, teletherapy is a great self-care tool for everyone.
If you’ve never talked to a therapist before, you can learn more about talk therapy so that you will know what to expect from your first session. This way, you’ll be able to avoid unnecessary stress and prepare for the treatment process.
If you’re wondering, “Why am I so moody?” then the answer might depend on many different factors, including your hormonal balance and physical and emotional health. While there’s nothing wrong with occasional mood swings, significant uncontrollable shifts in mood can be a sign of various mental health problems.
Therefore, if changes in your mood start to impact the quality of your life, don’t hesitate to go to therapy. A licensed therapist can help you figure out the reasons for your mood swings and provide the necessary support.