How Mood Swings Can Affect Your Health
You’re feeling great one day, and the next, not so much. When is this okay? This article talks about mood swings, what they are, what causes them, what puts you at risk, and how to cope with them.
What are mood swings?
Everyone can experience ups and downs. One day, we feel on top of the world; the next day, we feel like we can’t get out of bed.1,2
These little shifts in mood happen to everyone on a regular basis. Mood-related symptoms can come and go in response to daily stressors, and they’re usually nothing to worry about. 1,2
But some people go through sudden changes in mood or emotional changes that interfere with their daily lives. If this sounds like you, it might be a good idea to find some help. 1,2
What causes mood swings?
Mood swings can happen for various reasons. Here, we’ll explore the most common ones.
Physical health conditions
People dealing with chronic diseases, neurological conditions, or who've experienced a brain injury often describe experiencing mood swings. Examples of such conditions include: 1,2
- Thyroid disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
Mental health conditions
Mood shifts can be a sign that something is going on with your mental health. Mood swings are common in the following psychiatric disorders: 1,2
- Depression – Someone living with depression can experience fluctuating moods, ranging from mild irritability to deep sadness and even occasional bursts of anger.
- Bipolar disorder – People with bipolar disorder go through extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).3
- Borderline Personality Disorder – Those dealing with borderline personality disorder often go through mood swings ranging from extreme happiness to irritability and feelings of shame and anxiety.4
Hormone levels can change depending on the time of day, stage of life, or health condition. These fluctuations are normal and can greatly impact someone’s mood. Mood swings are more likely to occur in these situations: 1,2
- Premenstrual syndrome – symptoms can arise between ovulation and a period, including irritability, feeling down, and mood swings.
- Pregnancy – mood shifts in pregnancy are quite common and can be triggered by stress, fatigue, and hormone changes like estrogen and progesterone.5
- Menopause – During menopause, estrogen and progesterone levels decrease, impacting the neurotransmitters responsible for mood regulation, which can lead to mood swings.6,7
Medications and substance use
Certain medications can cause mood swings as a side effect. If you are taking any medication and have noticed sudden changes in your mood, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. 1,2
Risk factors that can lead to mood swings
Your mood is affected by a wide range of things. Some of the most common include stress, poor eating habits, sleep disruptions, and abusing drugs or alcohol. 1,2
Unhealthy eating habits
If you don't eat properly or your diet lacks essential nutrients, you can become malnourished or experience fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. This can mess with your mood. 1,2
Sleep and mood are closely linked. People who don’t sleep the recommended amount (7 to 8 hours per night) often experience mood swings and mental health problems. 1,2
Using drugs or drinking alcohol in excess can impact your mood. Trying to quit these substances can lead to more sudden mood swings. If you or someone you know is having trouble quitting, reach out to a specialist for support. 1,2
When to see a doctor
Occasional mood swings are normal and shouldn’t interfere much with daily living. However, contact your provider if: 1,2
- Your mood swings happen too frequently.
- Your emotions fluctuate from moment to moment.
- You’re thinking about self-harm or experiencing uncontrollable excitability.
Coping with mood swings
Dealing with mood swings can be challenging, especially when they interfere with your daily life, work, and relationships. 1,2
If you have intense or frequent mood swings, contact your doctor. Your provider can help you identify the cause of your mood fluctuations and may recommend treatments like mood stabilizers or psychotherapy. 1,2
Managing milder and occasional mood swings is possible. Follow these tips: 1,2
- Identify triggering factors (stress, poor sleep, unhealthy diet) and address them.
- Practice regular physical activity.
- Learn stress management techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation.
- Get enough quality sleep.
- Avoid drinking alcohol in excess.
- Address any substance use issue in your life.
Don't let mood swings take over your life. Learn to recognize the triggers and try to handle them. If they start to impact your life and cause you significant distress, don't hesitate to seek help.
- UCLA Health. Are mood swings interfering with your life?
- Harvard Health Publishing. Is that mood change a sign of something more serious?
- NIH News in Health. Major Ups and Downs.
- Mayo Clinic. Borderline personality disorder.
- American Pregnancy Association. Mood Swings During Pregnancy.
- Mood Changes During Perimenopause Are Real. Here’s What to Know.
- Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. Mood changes and depression.