Mood Swings

Mood Swings

What are mood swings?

Mood swings is a medical condition involving rapid and often extreme fluctuations in the emotional state of a person.  It manifests as sudden switches from experiencing feelings of wellbeing and happiness to feelings of extreme depression, anger, and irritability on a regular basis. These rapid changes in behavior could be related to mental health, substance use, or other health conditions.

It is often common to experience some occasional mood changes but if you notice that your behavior is steadily unpredictable for a consecutive number of days, it could be a sign that something more serious is at stake and it might be time to visit a medical professional.

The following behavioral attributes that stem from changes in mood could be a sign of mood swings:

  • wanting to be left alone and unable to visit friends, get enough sleep, get out of bed, or go to work
  • Feeling like hurting oneself or ending one’s your life
  • Getting so excitable to the extent of no longer being able to control one’s urges to confront people, spend money, or get involved in risky and uncontrollable behaviors.

Causes of mood swings

Mood swings is caused by various possible factors which include an imbalance in brain chemicals, which are responsible for regulating the mood, hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle or menopause, and the abuse of substances such as steroids, often referred to as “roid rage”.

worried girl

Mental health conditions

There are several mental health conditions that could lead to mood swings, which are often referred to as mood disorders. Some of these conditions include:

  1. Depression: untreated cases of depression where the mood fluctuates from irritability to extreme sadness and subsequently to an angry outburst. Symptoms of depression include
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Often getting tired and fatigued
  • Losing interest in the pleasures of everyday activities
  • Experiencing difficulty in concentrating and decision making
  • Getting suicidal thoughts
  1. Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD): this is often only diagnosed in children where the child displays sudden outbursts which are not prevalent with their stage of development.
  2. Major depressive disorder (MDD): this is often referred to as clinical depression. It manifests as extreme feelings of sadness which lasts for a long period of time.
  3. Dysthmia: this is a chronic form of depression now referred to as persistent depressive disorder (PDD).
  4. Personality disorders: there is an occurrence of rapid mood changes in a relatively short period of time usually without the extremes experienced in bipolar disorder. Borderline personality disorder results to persistent mood swings. People with borderline personality disorder are often unable to handle stress and would often attempt to harm themselves when they feel unsettled or upset. The following are symptoms of borderline personality disorder:
  • Risky and impulsive behavior such as substance abuse and unprotected sex
  • Uncontrolled reactions to abandonment, whether actual or imagined, manifesting in rage, panic, and depression.
  • Intense mood swings which last from a few hours to days.
  • Outbursts, inability to control one’s temper, and inappropriate anger, which are all anger issues.
  • Dissociative symptoms which often manifest as feelings of having lost time or outside one’s body observing things happen.
  1. Bipolar disorder: bipolar disorder manifests as feelings of extreme sadness to feelings of extreme happiness. At the manic phase of bipolar disorder, the patient could start hearing voices in his head. An episode of mania manifests when the individual experiences a sudden outburst of energy, getting extremely talkative and talking fast, being unable to get some sleep or getting less sleep than normal, displaying risky behavior, and getting irritable and on edge. Bipolar disorder exists in two main types namely Bipolar 1 and Bipolar II. Bipolar 1 is diagnosed after the patient has experienced one manic episode, hypomanic, or depressive episodes. Bipolar II is diagnosed when the individual has had at least a depressive episode which has lasted for two weeks or more and a hypomanic episode that has lasted for four days at least, without the occurrence of any manic episode.

Other mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) could also result to mood swings.

Hormonal conditions

Certain hormonal conditions in the body, which affect the brain chemistry, could lead to mood swings.  Pregnant women, menstruating women, and women going through menopause often experience mood swings due to hormonal changes related to the state of their body’s development.

Substance use

People who drink alcohol and use drugs often experience mood swings. Substance addiction leads to substance use disorders that can be difficult for the person with the disorder and for his loved ones.

Other health conditions

Other health conditions that could lead to mood swings include conditions that affect the lungs, the thyroid, cardiovascular system, and the central nervous system.

Factors that could trigger mood swings

There are certain factors which could trigger the occurrence of mood swings whether it is caused by an underlying mental condition, substance use, hormonal, or mental conditions. These factors include: diet, stress, medications, sleeping habits, or a significant life changing event.

How can mood swings be handled?

  1. Seek medical help: the first thing to do when mood swings start to get in the way of your relationships, your job, or other aspects of your life would be to seek the help of a medical professional so as to decipher the root cause of the mood swings and take proper and timely action.
  2. Practice regular workouts: observing a workout routine would help you handle depression and anxiety. Exercise triggers the production of endorphins in the body helps to improve the mood. Exercise also fosters restful sleep.
  3. Listen to some music: listening to upbeat music can positively affect the mood.
  4. Cut back on caffeine: caffeine often causes symptoms which are similar to anxiety.
  5. Engage in cognitive behavioral therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of short term treatment, could be put in place to help change thinking and behavioral patterns which cause life problems.
  6. Dialectal behavioral therapy: people who suffer from borderline personality disorder can learn how to manage their dramatic shifts in mood and be able to better control their impulses.
  7. Practice relaxation: relaxation practices such as meditation should be observed
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